Monday, September 29, 2008


A few weeks ago I ventured into the world of recorded poetry with a session at my friend Ed's place. The resulting recording has just been selected to go through to the second round of a poetry competition. But even nicer, the recording is now on the web for people to sample - listen quickly, at some stage I'm going to have to repost without music to comply with the rules.

The recording, "Miscellany", is two sonnets from a 76-sonnet sequence I've been working on for a few years. Thanks to Ed Mecija for recording and mixing, and to his friend for the music.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Modern Music

Overheard as my parents were preparing to go out the other night. Most of this would have been in Cantonese, I think.

Mum: Daddy! Are you ready for the concert?

Dad: Yes. OK.

Mum: I'm.... ready now. (aside: this is a miracle - she spends ages in the bathroom, to the frustration of my father. Nothing particularly Chinese about that.)

Dad: OK.

Mum: You'd better pack your earplugs.

Dad: OK.

Mum: It could be bad.

Dad: OK.

Mum: Some of that music you don't like.

Dad: OK.

Mum: you know, the screeching... modern stuff.

Dad: Uh-hmmm.

Mum: OK?

Dad: OK.

Friday, September 26, 2008

when is a Kiwi not a Kiwi?

I don't know if this is related to writing but this is so quotable that I'm going to post it. This is from a rather earnestly written treatise by a Chinese nutritionist on a Canadian website. She's obviously unaware of the connotations of "kiwi" and "chinese Kiwi" in their country of origin (the fruit I mean - now I'm getting confused!). Anyone who's ever travelled will know about the weird looks one gets when you describe yourself as a Kiwi.

Among my favourite quotes from this is the prospect of being larger and more misshapen than my NZ and chinese counterparts (really?),that all kiwis come from China in the first place, the fact I can be blended with banana, and being a local kiwi with extra vitamin kick.

When is a Kiwi not a Kiwi?

Contrary to popular belief, the kiwifruit (mi hou tao) is not in fact a Kiwi - that is, it is not native to New Zealand. Instead kiwis originated in China, in the Yangtze River region of the country around Zhejiang province.

At the beginning of the 20th century New Zealand missionaries in China brought seeds of the fruit, which they named the Chinese gooseberry, back to New Zealand. It was renamed the "melonette", and then the "kiwi" in a bid to avoid tax duties imposed on melons.

Chinese kiwis are larger and more misshapen than their highly bred New Zealand and Californian counterparts, but I would certainly advocate them as they are cheaper, will last longer in your fruit bowl and of course have racked up considerably less food miles. Frankly, I think they are tastier too.

Those of you who pop a daily vitamin C tablet would be better to swap this for a single local kiwi which will provide double your vitamin C quota, along with other beneficial anti-oxidants - beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which help to protect your body from damaging free radicals in the environment.

For the size of the fruit the fiber content is also impressive with two kiwis containing the same amount as a serving of bran flakes. Add a sliced kiwi on top of your morning cereal, or use a blender to make fresh juice sweetening with a little honey if necessary.

For refreshing and healthy frozen desserts, try peeling and slicing kiwis in half, wrapping in cling film and simply freezing. Alternatively blend together kiwis, banana and yoghurt and freeze in lolly trays with sticks.

Kiwi may not seem a natural partner to savory foods but they contain the enzyme actinidin which breaks down protein and therefore acts as a brilliant meat tenderizer.

Mash up one kiwi with a little olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne pepper and use to marinade chunks of chicken for 30 minutes. Then thread alternative chunks of the chicken, firm kiwi and red onion onto skewers and grill. If you wish to avoid flavoring meat with kiwi, simply cut the fruit in half and use it to rub the meat half an hour before cooking.

This same enzyme is capable of digesting protein in a variety of other foods, so make sure that desserts combining kiwis with dairy products are eaten quickly else they may degenerate into a sloppy mess. Kiwi jelly is a definite no-go as the enzyme breaks down gelatin meaning it will never set.

The Chinese approach to the kiwis is pretty straightforward: It tends to be eaten whole, sliced in a fruit salad or juiced. Xi'an, in Shaanxi province, and the surrounding areas are renowned for their dried kiwi fruit (mi hou tao gan) and these can be found at many market stalls in the city.

Unfortunately vast amounts of sugar seem to be added during the drying process. You can experiment with drying kiwi fruit yourself, and bringing down the additional sugar.

Make a weak sugar syrup, and add one teaspoon of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) per 900ml. Cut the kiwis into thick slices, dip in the syrup and dry in the oven (at 120 C) or in the sun until dry and leathery.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

blue-eyed sky

a feather arc up and out
traces line
across mind
pins spine of thoughts
on a single


stormed through flowers in spring
left your sweat
on my door
wrote your pleas
on purple blossoms


pushed you away
in my hands

the blue-eyed sky cried

a canary sang
alone in a cage
pinned to the side
of a house
in Valparaiso

and it sang


found me
smeared paint
against my walls
showed the world
your red slashed mouth
pushed me to the ground
mugged me of my indifference

o that night

now i

run writhing
through narrow cobblestone streets
watched by dogs with hard


piece by piece i

take off my clothes
string them from
see light refracted

from a single


Blogging... officially

I've just become an "official blogger" for The Big Idea creative network. It's a great honour and potentially a much bigger audience than I'm used to. I felt quite nervous writing my first blog - I stayed up all night trying to get it right (though doing the 11 pm - 5 am writing shift is quite normal for me now, my brain seems to work better then and anyway, I have a certain someone to talk to in Japan between midnight and 2 am).

It's funny writing a "regular" (contracted fortnightly) blog, a very different business to my ramblings here where I'm used to just blurting down my thoughts whatever and whenever. The "official" blog calls for a lot more thought, I think, and I get quite self conscious because of the terrifying idea that people more expert than me (quite a large group, really) may read it. I feel I have to be more careful with quotes and impressions rather than just raving on in my usual opinionated way. On the other hand I've been thinking that the reason people read columns (which is what this official blog really is) is just because of that slight edge, that rawness. Hmmm. Blogging is a funny thing when you think of it, it speaks to the voyeuristic side of us all, don't you think? And what's the word for the other side of that - the tendency to display oneself, to let the contents of one's brain be ogled while trying to keep other more unsavoury parts out of view? It's called writing, I think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


you're so welcome stranger
welcome to clean green NZ our home

you're welcome stranger
welcome to clean green NZ our home

you're welcome stranger
to clean green NZ our home

you're welcome stranger
to clean NZ our home

you're welcome stranger
to clean our home

you're welcome
to clean our home

to clean our home

to clean home

to clean

to clean


note: this poem was inspired by a great blog post on closet racism - eloquent and true.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

a Lumiere anniversary

Today is one year since I wrote my first post for Lumiere, an online journal of arts and review. In my first year I've clocked up 33 articles, mainly theatre reviews, along with some artist interviews and one dance review. I'm rather proud of my portfolio, actually.

Slam rewind

a video from the archives, recently rediscovered on Utube.... the finals of the Poetry Live Slam earlier this year, featuring Gus Simonovic and Murray Lee. Gus was the winner, but Murray won the second prize of $2 Laser fingers, so he was happy too!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Yay! I'm special!

OK, so I admit it. I'm a self googler. I look myself up to see what's been written (sadly most of it is actually by me). But it was a lovely accident that led to me discovering that my latest chapbook, Cardiac Cycle (co produced with Cat Auburn) has been bought for the Auckland University's Special Collection. And after I discovered that I couldn't resist going in for a look for myself.

It's not one of those hushed places with oak panelling where you have to handle everything with kid gloves (there are gloves, but mainly to handle the photographs). It's efficient, quiet, well lit, inhabiting a nondescript corner of the library. But you have to hand in your ID to get stuff, and there's a "gatekeeper" to bring you the books you request. So I felt quite excited when she delivered my book to me, in crisp mint condition, from its temperature controlled vault. I felt special....