Monthly Archives: April 2011


Today is the last day of National Poetry Month (in the US, at least, though enough others seem to have taken part to rename it International Poetry Month). One challenge for the month, raised on several sites (the one I followed at NotWithoutPoetry and another at NaPoWriMo, among others) was to write a poem a day for the whole month. I took up this challenge. I did miss a couple of days but made them up so that, by today, I have at least 30 poems written. Click the Poems menu item above to work back through them.

I can say with all honesty that it has been the most productive artistic month of my life. It has made me eager to get out of bed and check what prompts have been issued on each site and see what I might make of them. I’m proud of some of the poems and will likely blush when I reread others. But, I am certainly pleased that I undertook and met the challenge.

My challenge for the rest of the year is to try and keep up the momentum, not to writing a poem a day, but to be able to follow through on the poems I do write and make them as good as they can be. For this, I’ll need to work even harder and in a different way but I am looking forward to that challenge. I’ll likely not post much more poetry since, as my friend Kona has discovered, posting poems excludes them from magazine publication and competition entry. But I may be back next year. By then I may need the challenge to refresh or restart my poetic voice.

For the last poem of the month, I’ve ignored all prompts and written a short, quick paean to National Poetry Month.


April is the lyric month.
For thirty days and thirty nights,
the words came, mine amongst them.
Long and short, rhyming and not,
of recognised form and all their own.
Amongst the tumult, I caught my
voice, now and then. If it will speak
in silence, I’ll soon discover.
But, to be a part of that
mellifluous chorus gladdened me.


These are probably the best pictures I’ve ever taken. Not just because they look quite good but because they were taken from the front deck of a small-ish boat, standing up, hanging on desperately with one hand to the back of a seat while the boat heaved up and down in 1m+ waves. So that left me holding my D90 in one hand trying to follow the flight of this albatross as it wheeled about in the skies above the boat.

albatross #1

albatross #2

I have to hand it to the D90. As long as I kept the albatross in the viewfinder, it kept it in focus.

I did suffer for it though, after all that twisting my head about, I got quite seasick on the voyage back – and that was in much calmer seas.

These were all taken on the Monarch Wildlife Cruise just at the entrance to Otago Harbour. A great experience.


The prompt for today was simply to ‘write that poem that’s been lying in wait. Or use one of the prompts that you had to skip previously. Or just start something deliciously, gloriously new!’ So, I did.

I took my lead from a passage in the book I was reading last night, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld.


A feller stood on his patch
and shouted “Mine” so the sound
would carry to the boundary
and beyond. To any bugger
who might question the right of it.

I walked my Dad’s fence, it took
all day. The scrub on both sides
was the same, burned by the same sun.

We’ve lost the idea of land,
the feeling of what it is to
have land, to be that feller.
Beyond possession and ownership
is the rootedness of land,
the sense it gives of being
supported, held close and nourished.

They retired to a city flat, held
leasehold, and flourished. Gained, they joked,
a new lease on life. A long term one,
it turned out.

Too close a hold can
suffocate, escape can mean
breathing free again. Fences work
both ways. I never took root, took
off instead. Still, I miss the
completedness of that fenceline.

Seal pups

Taken near the entrance to Otago Harbour, Dunedin, from the boat of the Monarch Wildlife Cruise. This seal colony included these two pups with their mothers.

seal pups

Very cute.


This is pretty much the antithesis of the prompt for today, a bit of a rant against the imposition of form. I’m sure there are poets who can use the constraints of form creatively and I have read plenty of contemporary poems where the form works without being obvious. For me though, trying to write to a form means I think too much about that and not enough about getting words that work, and the words are all that matter to me.

What the heck: put it down to my inability to think of rhymes!


Rearranging a verse to fit some form seems
like writing the news to suit the sentiment
of your class of reader. Leave restraints to
the sadomasochists in our midst. Write
what is right. Whatever a word’s colour
or origins, if it can play the role,
employ it. End rhymed lines can produce
a fine effect but repetition dulls.
Use rhyme as a tool to hone your sense
not as a weapon of blunt trauma.
And if you find that thirteen lines contain
your thought, then leave it there, don’t add one more.
Let your poem speak with its own voice.

Dead tree

Quick update on the tree painting. I thought of creating a wash (using water) from the background in the last stage of the painting (see previous post) and adding more and more yellow ochre to this to create and deepen a green that I could apply over the background to bring it up to the right colour and shades. It half worked.

dead tree

I added raw umber and phthalo green to the mix in the last couple of washes to deepen the colour. Wasn’t happy with the result. I then washed the background with matt medium to try to get it to recede and the foreground with gloss to bring it out. Bah!

I’ve decided to finish with this painting, take it to my new teacher in a couple of weeks and see if he can tell me how I ought to have done this in the first place. Not sure I’m that interested in the image itself that I’ll try it again. Ah well, on to something else.

Sea lion

While in Dunedin, we went on a cruise (with Monarch Wildlife Cruises) which went out to the seal and albatross colonies at the entrance to Otago Harbour. I’ll post a few of the pictures I took on this cruise starting with this chap, a young sea lion sunning himself on the sands.

sea lion

Old shed

This second poem uses the other photograph in the prompt:

old shed

I tried to relate a number of concepts here but after a couple of hours of struggle and my pencil reducing considerably in length, I have to admit failure. There is the germ of an idea but it’ll need more time than I had today to get it in shape. Still, this will serve as a reminder.


There, a shelf of jars before a window.

Good glass aspires to erasure, it
signifies nothing. This glass, however,
asserts its existence. The jars enclose,
the window warps the world beyond.

Just-in-case jars, dusty and forgotten.
Screw-topped, flip-topped, cork and glass-stoppered,
wide and narrow mouthed, long and squat, all
contents long gone. Like words holding their shape
when the meaning has fled.

That thin pane conjures a filmic dreamscape,
a Gaudian geography of stretch
and snap progression.

Don’t look for meaning here. Only disuse
is significant.

Still life

The prompt today is to take one of two photographs, still lifes, and compose a poem from them. This photograph,

red bicycle

brought to mind Williams’ poem and I came up with:

who might depend

a red bi-

sunk in wood

against the white

Couldn’t resist it :). Will try a proper poem later.


Post title pretty much says it all. Taken on the wharf of Monarch Cruises outside Dunedin. Cruise pics to follow.


Little cropping but no adjustment needed. Love the New Zealand sunshine.

Night, looking out

Another prompt-based poem. A little less stream of consciousness than the last. Perhaps a little less sensible but, then, it is later now. This one is more me. That is, rambling, convoluted and invoking Spinoza :).

May not get anything written tomorrow as I’ll be out for most of the morning so this one is in reserve.

Night, looking out

Mostly darkness, the odd lighted window.
Empty living room, kitchen with a shadow.
Lives hovering over chaos. Quantum
substrate for a badly etched reality.
Realign the design, retool the
manufactory. Refashion Spinoza’s
substance. That which is and not god but
of which all is. Start with the Ethics.
Near mathematical rules for sensemaking.
Realign with Physics for a retooled
enlightenment. Not to conquer darkness
but comprehend it. Thrill to the chaos.

Work in progress (I hope)

I’ve not posted any art work for last week. Our classes at Gallery 18 are finished; I’m starting another in a few weeks but the interim is me working on my own. Or not, as the case more accurately is. I will post an in progress painting that I’ve been trying to get looking right for a couple of months. It is of this photograph taken in NZ:

Tree painting: photograph

and the work to date looks like the following. I started laying on rough colours, messed that up adding white (which always happens: I’ll learn one day) so overpainted the whole sheet and redrew the tree, adding some more bits to improve the composition, painted in the tree with a yellow ochre (I think) then tried adding actual colours and detailing.

Tree painting #1 Tree painting #2 Tree painting #3 Tree painting #4 Tree painting #5 Tree painting #6

The last version is after trying to put a faint purple wash over the background of the last one to lighten it and ending up with a complete mess. I simply painted over the whole background with a light blue and am trying to figure out how to darken it and put in the hazy detail without making more of a mess. I’ve been trying to figure it out for two weeks!

Tree painting #7

I quite like the dark edges around the tree and the way it now stands out so I’ll need to add the detailing without, perhaps, dulling the background too much. The tree needs to look like a tree as well. Lots to do. Will hit the books I’ve got out the library to see if anything there strikes me. Hope I figure something out before I run out of paint (or patience).