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Rushing today – have a lot of reading to do for my MA programme – a 200 page folio to get through in one day. Looking forward to it though, I love this guy's stories, Julian, he's a genius. The day is grey again, Wellington, you gotta love her. But wherever I am in a day, writing or just hanging, I seem to score the most spectacular views – the one from the university here is superb, the ‘flat-iron tugs' smoothing out the harbour – that's a quote from a NZ poet, I'll find out who wrote it tomorrow...it's a fantastic piece. Mauri ora.
Rushing today – have a lot of reading to do for the MA programme – a 200 page folio to get through in one day. Looking forward to it though, I love this guy's stories, Julian, he's a genius. The day is grey again, Wellington, you gotta love her. But wherever I am in a day, writing or just hanging, I seem to score the most spectacular views – the one from the university here is superb, the ‘flat-iron tugs' smoothing out the harbour – that's a quote from a NZ poet, I'll find out who wrote it tomorrow...it's a fantastic piece. Mauri ora.
Another grey-ish morning, but my view is still superb in my cottage by the sea. Grateful for touch-typing so I can look at Kapiti Island while I work. I feel like my poetry's gone to seed somehow, needing that regular habit again. Not a poem a day, but I need to do more than a few poems a month. Hand it over, Higher Power, stop ‘driving' it, etc. Our cat, Fish, is fighting with a neighbouring cat – a black and white, scraggly looking thing, as scraggly looking as Fish was when we first found her here, abandoned by the neighbours.
Denis Glover, that's the name of the poet – ‘…flat-iron tugs rush towards any shirt of a ship…' – something like that anyway, brilliant. Today a well-known NZ poet, Andrew Johnston, is coming to talk to our MA class. Prof. Manhire has decided it would be useful for us to examine the ‘sestina' form, and because I've just attempted writing one, he thought it would be a good idea to use my poem to workshop in the session. I feel excited and nervous about it – it's not my best work, but I know the session will be really helpful. Wish me luck.
Worried today about our friend in the MA course who has gotten real sick, she can't come to the classes any more. Illness has been around me a lot in my life, and though I'm grateful for the skills and knowledge I have around diet and exercise and all those other holistic health things, I am also really tired of it. Also the combination of illness and no-money. I'm lucky that's never gonna just outright kill me like in some countries, but sometimes, especially today, I wish for better health and happier hearts for myself and the people I love.
Having a shitty morning, a fight with T. She's gone now, I can get on with my day. She is so cruel when we fight. This time, it might sound mental, but I actually took notes while we were fighting so I could remember the things she says to and about me. When it's all blown over, it's easy to forget and forgive, but I think I do that too quickly sometimes. She goes right to the bottom of the barrel, accuses me of everything she can, none of which I'm doing, then slams the doors on her way out.
Yes, I'm cruel too – though usually afterwards, not at the time, it takes a while for her comments to sink in and then I get an urge to be just as nasty to her as she has been to me. It's a horrible spiral. So today I'm on my own, she stayed in town last night and is there all day today, finishing off N's room renovations and rehearsing with B. I have managed to eat a good breakfast and do some yoga, but I'm having a hard time doing anything else – creative, at least. All this freezes me up.
Woke up with numbers in my head. How to work out our finances. I start to obsess / distress and churn them round but of course fuck-all usually remains fuck-all. T has stayed away for the weekend, which has been sad and good. It's my mother's birthday and for the first time I forgot. Last time we talked she said Your father always gets a nice mention whenever you're on the radio…She's right, I told her she has to be nicer to me. I was joking. I talk about her with love every time I perform The Daughter's Song live.
Great day yesterday, in the end. Fantastic practice with M, she's the Conga's Queen. I've actually started composing again, which has made me really happy. I thought it'd left me. T is back and we are on eggshells, I must say it was really good having the house to myself for the weekend and it seems she really enjoyed herself in town as well, even went busking. I'm wondering if we shouldn't make this a regular thing, having a break from each other over a weekend – without the horrible fight first, though, ay. Big day today – Poetry Reading, gig tonight.
I'm proud of myself for keeping this up each day. It helps I've written 100 WORDS in permanent ink marker on the back of my hand. Today, Sept 11, (down here in the Antipodes) I'm singing at a peace gathering in St Andrews church tonight. I've written something to read, too. It feels trite, but it's all I feel I can say…it's about when someone does harm to you, how do you write it? That desire for revenge, even just in print. The larger lesson of ‘do no further harm than has already been done', and how hard that is.
I've left it late, it's actually tomorrow, but I haven't gone to sleep yet. A full on week of readings and gigs – just been at the Bluenote, read some poems and did two songs, it was one of those really magic moments when the audience are totally into it and I'm not making mistakes or being nervous, there's silence and not too much cigarette smoke, there's one guy who laughs at all the jokes in the poems – because he really gets them, not because it's polite or he's drunk. It was awesome. T and I are feeling stronger together again.
Spent the day practising with M, she is such a fantastic percussionist and she is so much FUN. It's late now, I'm sleeping early because my gig means getting up early tomorrow. I'm doing my Maori Language songs, some of them anyway, and I'm real nervous, I haven't performed them for years, some of them. But it's now or never – ma to reo ka mohiotia koe – by your language you will be known. I'm quite sure I will murder three of the songs, and the others will go really well. That's about half-half in a thirty minute set, o, fabulous.
It was a great gig. I am happier with my performance today than any other. The audience was small because it was a stunning, Wellington-spring day, the first, and good on ‘em, those people who chose to be out by the water, or on it, or driving in the sun. Another argument with T beforehand, M was kind about it, thankfully. She had a rough morning too, and it was a relief not to have to hide it from her. After the gig T and I walked the waterfront, the first time we've done that sort of thing in ages.
Tonight was the second of the ‘Reverberations' gigs – T's performance workshop students proving they'd learned their stuff…it was a really choice night. Nearly 80 people, no alcohol, no cigarettes, lotsa heart. People there because they wanted to support the music and the muso's, not to get pissed. The students gave T flowers and a tee-shirt printed with the poster of the gig, it was so excellent. After the gig, B's dad (her family drove hours to be there) locked his keys in his car – T's an expert with a wire hanger and she got ‘em sorted, she's so damn cool.
Drove to Taranaki to visit T's Dad, so I'm writing this in my journal, instead of MS Word. He is due for major heart surgery in 10 days, so it's a pre-op cheerin' up visit, and T also cleaned out his gutters and fixed his bolt-cutters. They have a great time together, doin' boy stuff. Her step-mother even said ‘That T, she should have been a boy.' I nearly laughed out loud. Her Dad looks real fit and well, though he's frightened I think. He's arranged his funeral and all. We're staying with her sister D, she's such a sweetheart.
Back again, long drive, just home, lunchtime. Quick trip so we could get back into it, though T's travelling up again to pick up her brother from Oz closer to their Dad's operation. Now I'm trying to get some writing done before the day closes – have Letters to write to other class members, reports on their folio's and what I feel about them so far. I'm bleeding like a stuck pig and finding it hard to get motivated. Maybe I need another pyjama's day. The house is a bit of a tip, it's been the victim of our crazy week.
What a crazy fucking day yesterday. We are both so on edge, worried for our own worries. I get scared of her temper which makes it difficult to comfort her at this time she really needs it. She is so worried for her Dad and in the past when she's really stressed or upset about things she takes it out in anger and aggression, so I'm just on schpilkers (sp?) waiting for that to happen. It's so horrible, and it doesn't give her a chance to do it differently. And it's nearly time to hand in my MA folio, geeziz.
Have to spend the day writing. Then I remember the bloody deadline for a job I want to apply for is tomorrow, christalmighty. So I've asked for an extension for my Letters of Reference, I feel like I'm already being a pain in the ass and they're not going to be interested just because of that. But Prof. Bill has said yes, he'll send something, and hopefully the others will, too, and in the meantime they said they'll be verbal referees. It's a job as a writer / editor with the National Museum, doing exhibition texts and publications. It sounds really really perfect.
Spent the day finishing off that fucking job application. Finally got it done along with quite a lot of other bitsy work that's so frustrating because it's not WRITING. Took it into Te Papa and all was well. Then went to University, delivered a CD to a happy buyer, but of course, wrongly autographed, so I have swop it on Monday. Which is a bugger because I didn't want to go in on Monday. UURRGH. Then went to the 12-step meeting with my friend, the one in St Andrews, and it was so fantastic, so glad I went, uplifting, strengthening.
TA has stayed over – she came out last night and it was real nice. This morning T left to pick up her brother from Auckland and take him back to New Plymouth for their Dad's operation. TA and I got up slowly and lay in the sun, we even had our first swim of the summer, it was freezing and rough and fantastic. It was pounding up against the seawall, so the waves were breaking onto us from out at sea and also onto us from the seawall, in both directions, in and out, it was fucking great! No poems.
I feel like I'm coming down with something. T is away, she's gone up to get her brother, she's not back till tomorrow. I am struggling with trying to write, I mean new stuff. Even more so with what feels like the flu encroaching. I want to try and write the love poems to my sister, my mother and my father, to give a sense of them as whole people. That way I think it's kind of ok to write and even maybe publish the honestly bad stuff about the honestly bad times. Still, I struggle with all this constantly.
Still feeling rotten today. T due back today, it'll be good to have her home. I wish I had more energy and pluck, I've got so much writing to do. Maybe I haven't though. Maybe I should just stop trying to make new stuff and work with what I've got. It's easier to go for that second option when I'm feeling like this. I'm trying to live out of another space other than my head, my mentality is so unreliable as a guide for right action and even right thought. It's so sunny again today, summer, raumati, bring it on.
Still feel kinda rotten, throaty and strange. Maybe it's detox – I'm doing that Liver Cleanse diet, or at least moving towards it. I've just written this to the editor of the Gay and Lesbian Newspaper here: Hey I just wanted to touch base with you about the poetry you published of mine a couple of issues ago. It was really gratifying that you decided to publish all the ones I sent you (I think 5?) – trouble is that these poems are my livelihood, and because you chose to publish them all, I actually can't publish them in any other publications…etc.
It's amazing to think a month has passed almost. T's dad had his huge operation today. Only a 20% chance of surviving and he made it, he made it. We cried with relief, we're still crying with relief. It's not the only dangerous part of the process, of course, he's got a huge recovery ahead of him. But it's the major hurdle. T so deserves to have her dad for a bit longer. I am so happy for her. So. We will head up to Taranaki on Monday I think to visit him in hospital and see what's the haps.
Today I'm alone (T's gone to host her singer-songwriter's night) and the day stretches out in front of me. I feel motivated though, keep going back to that 12-Step principle of ‘doing exactly what you don't want to do'. Well, what I don't want to do right now is start on organising my folio. I have to re-write heavily, just about every poem, and then start organising it into a ‘book'. A ‘book', geeziz. Trying not to let the fear take over the action. Another thing, I need to read John's novel – from the course – which is fab but long.
Well the sun's shining. I am really sore, fibromyaligia-wise, after a marathon session on my folio yesterday. I'm continuing today, but I've got my alarm clock beside me for half-hour movement and stretching breaks. T and I are doing the ‘Liver Cleanse' diet at the moment as well, sheesh, health freaks. It's working though – I've got that good ole detox headache. Got a title for the folio – ‘Hongi' – it's kinda perfect, I'm proud of myself, not that I haven't been through a hundred hideous options to get to it. Turns out (surprise) it's one of the hardest parts, the naming.
I spent the day with Neta, it was lovely. We worked out the wording for her mum's headstone; she actually had it sorted, she just wanted a bit of a hand with getting it down. It's beautiful, real appropriate. It's so hard to believe she's been gone nearly a year. But it's that time of year again. When I went up those stairs it was like a time warp, she was there again, smiling, touching my chin, reassuring me when I said sorry to her (again) for not putting her pillows right or forgetting something. I miss you, Aunty Kath.
Listening to a radio doco about Bill Clinton, they're cutting in excerpts of Elvis…'you're a beautiful audience…thangyaverrrrmuch…' It's very good. It's pissing down, so my internet connection's gone as it does. T is being very affectionate, hangin' off me, as she does sometimes when I'm on the computer. She's pretty adorable. Drinking our vegetable juice, we're both feeling better from this diet, despite the detox headaches. Today, time to sort out the penultimate version of my folio before meeting with Bill. Time to sort it into chapters, or sections, or a setlist, or soundbytes or something. Epigraphs or no epigraphs?
Well. I've worked fucking hard the last few days and now I've got my folio printed out. Giving it to Bill to read and we'll meet on Wednesday. I've called it ‘Tangi Hongi Hangi'. And it's now got no epigraphs or section titles at all, it's just a I II III thing, much simpler. Tyree ended up helping me with how to put it together, I got lost. I want each poem to light up the ones around it, not like a lame-arsed inevitability from one to the next, but the occasional exchanged wave of recognition, a bit of illumination.
Last day of the month – it's actually gone slowly, a lot's happened. I'm looking forward to posting these and seeing what they look like on the site. Of course now I've pretty much handed in my folio I'm writing new poems. This morning: ‘Relative' / there goes that relative of yours / true, who's her family / i thought she was a pakeha / kehua, sis // true, who's her family / geez they're fair down there ay / kehua, bro / tona hiakai hoki ki te reo // etc. So finally, on deadline, the Identity Poem arrives. ‘bout time.
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