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Ready to move

Well I’ve been using WordPress for exactly two years and now I’m ready for a change. I had been looking at all the lovely Typepad blogs out there and was seriously considering trying one when Mr SYW suggested a Drupal site. We are big fans of Open Source software so it seemed like the logical step. When you go over to look at the new site you’ll notice that there have been some changes but it looks almost exactly the same, that’s because all the whizz-bang stuff hides behind the scenes (like Mr SYW). So please come on over and have a look around, update your rss feeds and settle in.
I have some great vintage give-aways lined up for 2010 – including new ephemera scans along with new sewing and knitting patterns for all you crafters. For the readers why not join in my Book Club? We are starting with a new New Zealand novel – Somebody Loves Us All by Damien Wilkins.
Of course there will still be my ramblings as usual on writing, life and craft, no change there!

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Sculpture: The Persistence of Memory, Dali

This week I’ve been reading more about Elizabeth Bishop and taking notes from Art and Memory in the work of Elizabeth Bishop– Jonathan Ellis.

The notion of poetic form as a hiding place for autobiographical secrets, somewhere to absorb, codify and often re-imagine memories, not just of friends and relatives but of other painters and poets – Ellis, p15

Life and the memory of life gets so compressed that they turn into each other. Which is which? These ideas tie back to what I was thinking about Elizabeth Knox making me want to re-write my past. EB seems to be very certain of her memories and their clarity, to have easy access to them. But they are more than just memories.

Memory becomes a synonym for art, for that which is alive forever rather than bound by mortality. It takes on the indeterminate form of a ghost or zombie, something that has a relation to life but is, at the same time, on the other side of the immortal or unloving. –Ellis, p21

The past needs to undergo transformation though, to be transformed into art. EB uses memory but transforms hers by placing formal constraints on them. I read her poem In Paris, 7AM.

here’s the first stanza:

I make a trip to each clock in the apartment:

some hands point histrionically one way

and some point others, from ignorant faces.

Time is an Etoile; the hours diverge

so much that days are journeys round the suburbs,

circles surrounding stars, overlapping circles.

The short, half-tone scale of winter weathers

is a spread pigeon’s wing.

Winter lives under a pigeon’s wing, a dead wing with damp


She is playing with clocks and time, looking out from a confused interior, which seems to confuse the exterior, it is quite surreal (although she is not a surrealist). The title is certain of time and place but the content of the poem blurs this reality.

Rather than evading limitations of time (and space?) clocks, all telling different times, seem to lead, via “endless intersecting circles” into a dizzy solipsism. What do we really know? What is real? Does anything really exist? Are past and present separate? How can anything be truly communicated?

Her ideas are so big and this poem is quite depressing, they both make you feel so small and uncertain, vulnerable in the world.

Co-incidentally the exercise of the week is also about memory.

Remembered Space (an exercise adapted from Mark Doty)

Note: This exercise is in two clear stages, produced over two days.

  1. First sketch the floor plan of the first house you can remember. Next fill it in with details of objects, placement of furniture, etc. Next pick up one of those objects and do a quick mind map – a free-associated list of words based on the object. When done, flip to a blank page and write (for 20-25 minutes) based on this. Write in first person, present tense.
  2. Next day, make something finished (no more than three pages) from your previous day’s writing: an autobiographical sketch, a poem, a story.

I sketched my childhood house and focussed on the mantelpiece and a clock on it, of course, after reading Paris, 7AM. But it’s awful to read after that, I feel like a child writing one fragile, simplistic layer of a poem while EB has written a multi-layered, brainiac poem. I guess it’s just stupid to think that way, how do I break through to the next level of my writing?

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Just want to say go and have a look over here.


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I’m In!!

I’ve been accepted into the IIMLs MA in creative writing! This means I get to devote next year to writing and reading and being with other writers and oh oh!! I’m so happy!!!

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All of you in the Wellington region, here’s a heads up. My friend Ngaere and other clever crafters are putting on:


17 – 21 DECEMBER 2008
12NOON – 7.00PM


featuring good stuff by:
gabby o’connor, genevieve packer, lucy adams, phillipa cowdrey, kirsten sutherland, vanessa crowe, miriam silvester, alanah gibson, amy van luijk, wendy neale, nicola jackson, ngaere mackinnon,
flora waycott, carla yeung, greta wenmoth, amy pyle, jim dennison & leanne williams

‘the great quest’
blank journal
recycled cover and map endpapers
145 x 215mm
ngaere mackinnon

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remember to go and visit Helen Squared!

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R.I.P Sushi

Sushi (behind) 1989-2008.
Goodbye little friend.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion yearold carbon and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden… – Joni Mitchell.

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