Poetry is alive and well in Northland. Here in Whangarei, we are gearing up for I’ve brought my immigrant enthusiasm to this event, and am looking forward to meeting some of the 45 contestants in the poetry contest (that’s an impressive number in rural Northland!), plus participating in the Voice in Action seminar to help shy poets learn a thing or two about breathing, enunciating, pacing, and saying what you got to say with more than just words. My first experience reading a story aloud was met with heckles from my well-meaning colleagues and calls of “too fast” — and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who could benefit from the lessons that a professional actor and teacher will share in this workshop.
So the next two weeks will see me and other writers here in Northland prepping for Poetry Night on July 29, which has both an early evening portion (an elegant cocktail hour at the local Nectar Cafe, named twice in a row Best Cafe in Northland) and a latenight event for the rowdier crowd (man, those organisers thought of everything!).
So here’s to poetry in July. Meeting poets, reading poets, hearing poets. From Joy Reynolds, who writes lovely children’s verse, to Tony Clemow, who skewers politicians with his wit and rhyme, to Peter Larsen, whose poem Whangarei got him a punch in the nose a couple months back. At least someone was listening…
WHANGAREI by Peter Larsen
“America two dollars and twenty-seven cents….” A. Ginsberg.
Whangarei I pour my guts out and you don’t give a shit.
Whangarei teenage burnouts in the burger king car park.
Whangarei domestic violence on Friday night.
Whangarei your new police station and courthouse are monuments to shame.
Whangarei Vine Street is a Venus fly trap.
Whangarei I only go to Danger Danger to feel a strangers hand up my skirt.
Whangarei Rugby is not a way out.
Whangarei hurry up and punch me in the face so we can be mates.
Whangarei no one at the library can tell me what Whangarei means.
Whangarei the stories of the names of your rivers are being forgotten.
Whangarei you don’t know what you’ve lost.
Whangarei your mayor is a recycled mumbling idiot obsessed with trucks and concrete.
Whangarei you don’t give a fuck about culture.
Whangarei your teenagers are pregnant with the next generation of criminals.
Whangarei if don’t sort it out you will be overrun by gangs.
Whangarei anyone with a finger of talent and half a brain gets the fuck away.
Whangarei everyone is high on pot because they’re so damned bored.
Whangarei violence is a cheap thrill.
Whangarei I’ve been chased by packs of dogs in your streets.
Whangarei if you don’t start caring for your artists you will remain famous for your bypass.
Whangarei your museum is a hospice to your history.
Whangarei I came here to get well.
Whangarei if I don’t tell you this I’m gonna get sicker.
Whangarei I picked up a twelve-year-old hitchhiker proud to be in a gang.
Whangarei no wonder you’re so fucking brutal.
Whangarei you have no face.
Whangarei no one knows who you are.
Whangarei you’re lucky no one cares who you are.
Whangarei talk is cheaper than violence.
Whangarei you need to start taking a few risks.
Whangarei grow some balls and stop trying to be so nice.
Whangarei I’m putting my balls on the line for you.
Whangarei go tell all your politically correct busybody councilors to go fuck themselves.
Whangarei I gotta get off my taxpayer funded stipend and get a real job.
Whangarei I’m leaving unless you get off your arse.
Whangarei I’m not right in the head and you’re not helping.
Whangarei I’ll pass the course if I pay my fee.
Whangarei you are so mediocre.
Whangarei you kill your own potential by voting in politicians with dead visions.
Whangarei do you wanna give me a spiddy ow?
Whangarei raw sewage in the harbour.
Whangarei this rage is good for my creativity.
Whangarei this is war.
Whangarei I don’t wanna die here.
Whangarei I don’t have the fucking answers.
Whangarei beat the crap out of your homeless for kicks.
Whangarei I reduce the syllables in my words so you don’t think I’m pretentious.
Whangarei I dance like a spastic and don’t give a damn.
Whangarei I’m sick of your brutal secrets.
Whangarei I’m bored by your feigned decency.
Whangarei your talent is escaping you.
Whangarei what am I gonna do?