Monday, November 28, 2011

Missing photos and misinterpreted ruins

Yesterday's launch of Bronwyn Lloyd's book of stories The Second Location and my book of poems Feeding the Gods went well, with old and new friends alike turning up to Ponsonby's Objectspace Gallery to devour the food Bronwyn and her sister had baked, drink the booze Creative New Zealand had stumped up for, listen to a thoughtful Michelle Leggott talk about the relationship between scholarship and creative writing, and watch Paul Janman and I play our own adaption of Jack Ross' literary adaption of the grand old game of monopoly.

As I struggle to shake off today's hangover, though, I can't lay my virtual hands on any photos from the launch. I lost Skyler's camera last September, after I got too close to the edge of the reef on 'Eua Island, and got knocked for six by a wave. I noticed various handheld devices flashing and beeping away yesterday, as I moved my thimble counter over the monopoly board version of the South Pacific that Paul and I had constructed, but I can't find any photos of yesterday's action in the blogosphere or on facebook today.

I have occasionally presented myself as a grumpy technosceptic and a foe of innovations like facebook, but I have to admit that the absence of authenticating images of yesterday's event fills me with an almost existential unease. Was it Richard Nixon or Marshall McLuhlan who said, back in the 1960s, that an event which wasn't reported on television didn't really happen? Perhaps today we could modify that quote, and say that a literary event which hasn't been preserved in the chaotic canons of facebook and the blogosphere never really happened?

Since I haven't got any authenticating photos to offer, I thought I'd post one of the shorter poems in my new book (I posted one of the longer poems here). The poem was written after I visited Muriwai Beach near the end of last year to inspect a ruined building which I suspected might have been built as a coastal observation post during World War Two, when many Aucklanders feared that Japanese forces might use their lonely West Coast as a 'back door' into New Zealand's largest city. The Home Guard certainly set tank traps on some of the roads that lead to the West Coast, and also cut paths through the bush down to possible Japanese landing points, but a look at Ramparts on the Sea, Peter Cooke's two-volume study of the history of New Zealand's coastal defences, suggests that beaches like Muriwai were never given the pillbox observation posts and the gun emplacements which are still such features of Auckland's eastern shoreline. If a Kiwi pillbox isn't in Cooke's book, then it probably never existed. Because I was preoccupied with military history during my trip to Muriwai the whole environment took on a strangely martial air, and prompted this rather paranoid poem.


A telescope, on a half-painted
deck - a telescope aimed over
Maori Bay, over gannets
that circle low, awaiting
permission to land
on that flat rock,
their aircraft carrier.
A telescope aimed
to blow up these details.

A taua of middle-aged Poms,
camped on an eroded
midden, between the bunker
and the beach - a taua armed
with chilly bins: with Tetley's,
Boddingtons, Victoria Bitter.

One of the Poms lies
apart from the rest,
on a bed of crushed lupins
and loose sand, and aims
an invisible rifle high
above his head.
Silently he shoots down
the monotonous flocks.
[Posted by Maps/Scott]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah. Bourgeois.

2:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Takapu are *never* monotonous!

4:16 pm  
Blogger Skyler said...

Great launch on Sunday :-)

9:05 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Maps I have some photos but haven't looked at them yet.

I'm going to New Plymouth tomorrow. want to look the art gallery (where Len Lye's work is) and other things. I've been down there before but might take a slower look.

I could send some photos sometime or put some on Face Book.

Your and Bronywn's stories/poems are great. I enjoyed the Monopoly and Michelle Leggott's poem and intro etc

Good to see Brett in good form and Cerian as well as Murray Edmonds, Farrell Cleary and Paul Janman and others such as Denys Trussell. Ted Jenner enjoyed it also.

Interesting poem here.

Briefly also I see we are in Jacket and I thank Jack for helping me (and you and the others) there. I'll expound more to Jack when I get back re that.

11:53 pm  
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