The Poetry of Objects #3

DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?

…HISSSSSS…
(FADE IN FROM WHITE NOISE):

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*

causing a small beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a writer, reading verse about
humans becoming angels the hard way,
music beating behind her like wings through the house;
the beeps on each hour;
the bird every morning
singing from the magic box atop the fridge.

*click*

Do you hear me now?

If
there was a microphone
and
I spoke
who now would hear me say:

Close your eyes and forget the foamy white noise of the breakers,
close your eyes and feel the swell that lifts you,
Up you go,
and down…

now,
without looking, see the next wave nearing, and
as you rise with it see the one behind it,
and the next,
and the rest,
a procession of gentle waves
refracting around you,
lifting you.

Now-
see:

splash your hand on the wave and smaller ripples spread
in all directions from your radiance,
a signal riding up and along on the
smooth series of sine waves.

See
clouds in the bright blue casting fat drops wide onto the water,
each drop broadcasting ripples,
each drop the centre of expanding circles
that become lost in the noise of the ocean.

Kick
the depths.
Stroke
the surface.
You swim in broad frequencies.
Look
up at the hill.
The transmitter tower,
there.

Swim
for shore.
Time for home.

*click*
Do you hear me now?

Shelter
from the sun-shower under a corrugated iron roof.
See
the world outside wet and bright,
holes torn in the clouds where
the single visible point of radiance is blinding.
Up on the hill, the radio transmitter pushes swells into the air,
a radiance unseen to biological eyes
making great spherical onion layers around itself,
a series of smooth sine waves
carrying splashes and ripples coded for voices and music;
they fly straight through the iron and wood and the feature wall,
and you, not lifting you

but

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*
causing a smaller beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a broadcaster who recalls:
“slipping between the peaks and troughs,
a whisper in the whines and crackles
of the cosmic microwave background.”

The bakelite box hums to itself.

“Is this thing on?
Do you hear me now?”

Pause. Hum. Another voice says:
“Thank you, we’re coming up to the news at 9-”
but she murmurs:
“If my lips brushed the microphone would you hear
i love you
within the hiss and pop of
the dying down of the birth of the universe?

Do y-”
*click*

Get
me a microphone,
I want you to hear me say:
let my waves lift your body,
let my waves lift your soul, while
radiant angels splash in the medium of space/time and
throw voices into the ear…

(Fade out to white noise)
…hissssssssssss…

Aaron Compton, July 2021

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. This radio is currently for sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or on Facebook.

Creative Kupu

What is Creative Kupu?

It is a mātauranga Māori focused initiative that offers accessibility to creativity for kids. The kaupapa of Creative Kupu is therefore guided by tāmariki in what they’re interested in writing, and in developing through a series of workshops and wānanga.  

Why am I interested in making this more accessible to kids here? 

In 2016 I was asked by my friend who was teaching at the time to write a play for their school in Papakura, South Tāmaki. They told me that their budget was small, and that the Ministry of Education asked for $1500 for the licencing rights to use the same old play that the kids didn’t know, and couldn’t relate to. I wrote Young Mana for a koha, so that the school could use the remaining pūtea to put on a cool production, rent out a theatre, have costumes and even a sound technician. 

Young Mana was written from my own experience growing up as an urban Māori in Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa, in Elgin. Although locationally different, my observations spent in Papakura showed me that economically and demographically, we were exactly the same.

I pulled in elements that I considered exciting, and had hoped the kids acting the parts would too. 

The genre of the play is fantasy, and utilises manu, kuri, taniwha, and the kiore to represent key characters. Mana endures a necessary journey in discovering his whakapapa, alongside the guidance of his Mum and a few friends.

Back in June I started 1-hour weekly workshops at my old primary school, Elgin. I wanted to bring the pilot of Creative Kupu, a series of creative writing workshops to Tūranga-nui-a-kiwa for my part in the ONO Project.

This seemed like a good opportunity for me to reconnect with the school where my creativity was first noticed.

Coming back into Elgin was nothing but a warm memory for me. This feeling was only continued when I was openly embraced by the Principal to come in and run these workshops. 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t keen to develop a play with these kids. However, this time, I wanted to give the kids full autonomy over the story, and therefore over their creative pieces, so that the characters they would be ‘playing’ wouldn’t be from someone else’s perspective. 

Because I want them to be excited by whatever they create, I asked them to write down on a piece of paper the kind of creative writing they’d like to develop. 

I also asked the kids what they wanted to focus on, because I wanted to make best use of a short time spent at the school. We all know that creative processes take adults weeks, months and sometimes even years. Having 5 weeks; 5 hours to take the kids to a space of creating with purpose is difficult, and I’m sure teachers can vouch for me on that. 

When I introduced myself to these kids, I proposed that I really wanted to develop works with them, to keep in touch, and to see their mahi produced into something like the production shown above. 

I wanted to see what they would focus on, and figuring that out required trialling one out of the two top options, Songs and a Play.  

We started with songs, taking one kid’s suggestion to watch an exclusively PG video clip of their current favourite song, ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, covered by Tomorrow People. 

I had to tell them that the original was actually sung by a group of American men in the 60’s. 

They didn’t like that so much. 

I asked them to respond to the song, how it made them feel. 

And this one just cracked me up. This kid wanted to write their own song, but needed the teacher to write while they said the lyrics.  

“Girl can you hear the drums?

Girl can you hear the guitar?

Girl can you hear my heart? 

Girl do you know that you make me bad.

Bad, bad, bad. 

Girl do you need a Knight in shining

Armour?”

They later asked me if I could send these lyrics to Three Houses Down.

 This process was difficult because the song chosen didn’t interest the majority of the group. I would say 40% of the class actually enjoyed the song, while the remaining found it a bit lame. Creating their own lyrics would too prove a bit daunting, with many feeling whakamā around expectation. 

Lyricism is time consuming, requiring time to reflect on personal feelings and experiences. Some of the kids opened up about their feelings, but were reluctant to put that down on a piece of paper. The kōrero was pretty special, and still counts as process. 

I decided we’d give that a break, and trial something else the following week. 

In the next session, I decided to push songs aside and trial the play workshop. I thought that something we could get out of an hour would be creating a character – how fun I thought. Turns out that this required a bit of unpacking too, and that agreeing to them using their chromebooks would benefit some, while distract the remaining. Creativity comes in many forms, I decided. 

One of the kids showing me the drawings they had done in their creative writing book. The drawings were incredibly detailed, and involved illustrations I’m dubious would be of interest to kids. I have a feeling that an older sibling drew them, but still this kid’s interest in drawing is obvious to me.

Anime seemed to be a huge theme here, with this kid showing me a character they had “made up”. The character is Todoroki, who has the catch phrase: “It’s not your fault, we’re just playing on different levels”.

Pre-existing or not, the character sounded sassy, which I like. 

I thought for the longest time that these kids were super talented drawers, until I noticed them all folding their chromebook’s down so that they could trace pictures. Hei aha.

It was cool to learn that Dragon Ball Z was making a comeback.  

This kid had traced a video game character. They were telling me all about how unspotabble the character was, and so I suggested they could create a character that would be able to defeat them. We ended up just talking about video games. 

“My character is a girl. She loves drawing her name is Lia. She’s pretty (<3) her hair is blonde and her teeth are bright and white. She is 38 years old and if she was in a movie she would go on an adventure with her drawing book and pencil, and whatever she drew would come to life.” 

I was blown away by the imagination in the creation of this character. The idea that Lia could draw things to life excited me, and I wanted to understand how that would look. 

This is clearly someone who loves creative writing, and a student who might be interested in continuing onward with this kaupapa. 

The kids are on their school break currently, but when they return, we will pick up where we left off and continue developing characters, and moving on to placing the character into a scene.

Massive aroha to Elgin Primary School, to the Principal for entrusting me into this space, the teacher for their huge support and flexibility, and of course to these kids who willingly engage in their creative processes. 

Ngā mihi aroha,

Jordan Walker, Creative Kupu

The Poetry of Objects #2

Remember the Grain

 

From micro-organisms in the silt of an undersea jet trench
to bacteria,
seeding rain-clouds,
we all need our star,

even poets needs the sun;
Let’s paint a picture:

photons striking green barley in the field,
energy stored as starch in swelling grains.
Oak leaves taking the same energy
to stouten trunks.

Evening rays,
filtering through the atmosphere at an obtuse angle,
shifting to the amber end of the spectrum,
giving painters and film-makers’ the brief,
perfect light for capture in their cunning artifices.

There’re golden fields.
Mighty oaks.
There’s
you,
glowing.

A selection of my favourite things.

Consider yeast,
in the darkness of a mash tun,
converting the energy of grain,
again,
from starch and sugars to ethanol,
which goes in an oak barrel to age,
the way the day is aged,
with the hogshead sun so low
over the yardarm.

Bring the decanter into the light,
let it flash and colour,
see your fingers refracted through the cut crystal,
through morning and afternoon sun distilled into a flammable liquid.

Pour one out for us;
Feel that good burn as it goes down;
Become part of the sunset,
even as a sunset passed becomes part of you;
Remember the grain,
and,
if only for this brief few minutes:
live as if in a movie,
or in a picture we’re painting,
with all,

from the trenches to the cloud tops,
raising a glass to Te Rā.

 

By Aaron Compton

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. These sparkling crystal decanters are currently on sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or on Facebook.

Dylan Haley – Far Out! Film Night

Meet Dylan Haley, a guy with an infectious laugh and the organiser of the monthly Far Out Film Nights at the Dome Cinema.

Dylan grew up in Berkeley, California, a city well-known for its liberalism. An epicentre of the anti-Vietnam war and Free Speech movements of the 60’s in the US, Berkeley has kept that tradition of radical politics and challenging the status quo to this day. “It’s a pretty groovy place” says Dylan that most people born there never leave. But Dylan did leave, initially to go to art school in New York and then to Los Angeles to “surround himself with artists”.

It was while he was living in L.A. that Dylan met Sarah, a Kiwi lass who had ended up immersed in the music industry, starting out DJing in bars and moving into music licencing, with a role placing music in film and Television.

Whilst Dylan still sometimes feels as if being here in Gisborne is some kind of happy accident, the pair made a conscious decision to ditch the rat race and find a place to raise a family of their own. With Sarah’s family all living here, Gisborne was that perfect place and Dylan reckons that in some ways Gisborne and Berkeley share a similar vibe in some ways; a special kind of soul that you don’t just find anywhere.

Since moving to Gisborne five years ago Dylan says he’s been educated on all sorts of things from beekeeping to growing vegetables to fence building, and he’s enjoyed growing friendships built upon shared interests in music and art. However he’d been here for a while when he started to realise how much he was missing chewing the fat about film with other people who were as excited about it as he was.

For Dylan it was time living next to some excellent video stores, first in NY and then LA that really got him into watching movies. It was always something of a solitary endeavour until the company Dylan did graphic design for opened a film distribution wing; restoring old films, repackaging them and redistributing them. Dylan started doing the poster design for the films – something he continues doing to this day – and finding himself surrounded by film nerds, his appreciation for film and talking about it with others, was thoroughly entrenched.

In his early days of Gisborne living Dylan would wander over to the Ballance Street Village to grab some lunch from the bakery. He’d often stop by at Retro, to yarn with Ro Darrall. When Sally from the Dome Cinema also showed up at the shop on one of those occasions, Ro prompted Dylan to share his idea for a regular film night showing classic films with her. Sally was sold, and in true Gizzy-styles, Far Out Film Night was born.

So what is Far Out Film Night? Each month Dylan chooses a film from his own personal catalogue of favourites. He goes for films that have stood the test of time but that are also somehow a little fringe-y, left of centre, usually with some kind of anti-hero theme, and always with substance.

Getting the rights to screen any particular film is an exercise which can have Dylan communicating directly with the family of deceased filmmakers or the original film producers and it’s a part of the process he enjoys.

On the night Dylan introduces the film, touching on anything from the social or political history which may have shaped the film, to the backgrounds of particular actors, fun facts about the director or the likes. He is passionate about the films he shows, as an intentional curation of some of  the best films that have ever been made. He especially relishes seeing old films on the big screen, likening the experience to time machine travel into the past.

For Dylan the Far Out Film Nights have achieved his own personal goal in finding people to talk film with, with some of the regulars soon becoming firm friends, and for Gisborne people, it’s an opportunity to enrich both our cultural and social lives; an opportunity to step out of our own lives for a couple of hours to experience someone else’s reality, in another time and place.

Far Out Film Night is on the last Tuesday of the month (that’s tonight!) at the Dome Cinema. The doors open for pizza and toasty hang outs from 5pm and the film starts at 6:30pm. Bookings are essential (027 590 2117) because these nights are pretty popular!

Tonight’s film is a documentary about the life of pianist and jazz great, Thelonious Sphere Monk. Featuring live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius, Dylan reckons this is another banger of a film!

Bonus Hot Tips from Dylan:

#1 If you are searching for something quality to watch on Netflix right now, look for the film Crip Camp. Not only does it prominently feature Dylan’s hometown, he reckons it will have you remembering what we are all here for.

#2 If you’re wanting to break free of Netflix you might want to check out streaming platform mubi.com – comparable in price to other platforms, available in NZ and good for films in particular.

You can follow the Far Out Film Night on Instagram @far.out.film.night

NZ Music Month in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa

It’s May, so it’s NZ Music Month! NZ Music Month is all about music from Aotearoa, and the people who make it. Radio stations play more local tunes, and we celebrate homegrown talent across the length and breadth of the country. So what’s happening locally? What does NZ Music Month mean to our local musicians and how can we support our local talent?

The NZ Music Commission kicked off NZ Music Month in 2000. There was plenty of great music being made but not enough people got to hear it, see it, or have it on their shelves. It’s marvellous to see how far things have come.

My music month started brilliantly with friends over for a birthday celebration, so out came the CDs and vinyl. I’ve got some great early NZ compilations on vinyl, being rather partial to Flying Nun bands and NZ punk. I was lucky enough to be given the book “From AK79 to The Class Of 81” as a prezzy, with great photos of the era by Andrew Phelps. What could be better? Maybe more music? Oh yeah, a gift voucher for Spellbound Wax, our very own local vinyl store. So I went in and got the classic Straitjacket Fits album Hail.

I asked some local musos for their thoughts on NZ Music Month and the local scene (follow the link to our website below for links to these band’s tracks and playlist links on Spotify):

Gana Goldsmith of UNI-FI thinks “the local music scene has really boosted in the last few years since Darryl took over Smash Palace and has live music every weekend. NZ Music Month for me is celebrating awesome kiwi musicians and their creative works but I reckon it should be celebrated all year around and not just for one month!”

SuperFly Killa started the month writing songs for their second EP. Kevin Pewhairangi gave us his local music recommendations: Tuari Brothers, Supreme Brother Sound, UNI-FI, Clown’s Kiss , Strobe & Kwick.

As an artist songwriter ErnieJ says that being involved in NZ Music Month makes him feel like he is contributing to a bigger kiwi vibe “Following Covid lockdown, Kiwi acts stepped up and demonstrated we have the talent. If local original music is given opportunity in front of an audience then chances are, we grow together”.

The man behind Spellbound Radio and The Spellbound Wax Company Deane Craw says he always tries to get anything from New Zealand on vinyl for the shop, “the local music scene has really ramped up after Covid, with more local bands touring, and commercial stations finally coming to the party”.

New Zealand music airplay on commercial stations was 21% in 2020. The industry began a voluntary Music Code back in 2002, when they played less than 10% local music. Their target was for commercial radio stations to play 20% New Zealand music. Not bad, but I reckon they can do better and follow in the footsteps of public, student and iwi radio stations, which are strong supporters of local content.

OK, I know, it’s getting a bit nippy out so you might not make it to all of the live shows. Luckily, there are a couple of other ways to hear our local talent. You may have heard local music playing at a cafe, restaurant, bar or shop lately. That’s because Lazy Fifty band manager Kerry Taggart put together a Gisborne Musicians Spotify playlist and got it out to local hospitality businesses.  You’ll know if they have the playlist from the poster displayed in their window. Your ears can feast on tracks from locals, including The Crumb Factory, The Karuthers Brothers and Tama Waipara.

Another playlist, heavy on music from Tairāwhiti and 100% NZ made is the NZ Music Scene playlist. You’ll hear locals UNI-FI, Superfly Killa, Sit Down in Front, amongst others.

I could go on forever and don’t claim to have covered the whole spectrum of local music. But if you’re keen to find a new favourite NZ band, Bandcamp is a great place to start if you’re keen to support local artists. Check out Bandcamp here.

Enjoy your NZ Music Month and keep an ear out for a new project brewing at Gizzy Local that’s all about shining a light on local music – Gizzy Local music. Coming soon!

By Leah McAneney

Photographs by John Flatt – Lightseeker Photography

The Poetry of Objects #1

The Poetry of Objects #1: Thirty seven piece Branksome Dinner set

Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile,
This bird boned tableware, so thin, light weight,
Your gracious, timely action, full of style.

So curl your hands ‘neath powder blue, and wile,
And cup a cloud of steam against your face,
Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile.

We teacups wear no halos, sure, but I’ll
Reglaze the blue of Mary’s baked in grace
Her timeless gesture, classy, full of style,

As families grow more stories pile up, while
Boards groan with hued ceramics song ‘till late,
When summer nights are to lift me to your smile.

The gravy tide, it lifts all boats on high
So raise a toast to bread and butter plates,
Sunday roasts are to lift me to your smile,
A timeless set. So classy. Full of style.

By Tampa O’Connor for Gizzy Local

* The Poetry of Objects is a creative marketing collaboration between local business ‘Retro’ and writer Tampa O’Connor.
Each month we will be provided with a photograph of an object or collection of objects from Ro Darrall’s shop Retro and our in-house poet will provide a poetic response to it.

** This poem is a Villanelle, an old form of poetry defined by its structure. The most famous example is by Dylan Thomas, “do not go gentle into that good night.”

** Ekphrastic poetry is a form of poetry that emerged in ancient Greece whereby writers aspired to transform the visual into the verbal especially to describe Art. Today, the word ekphrastic refers to any literary response to a non-literary work.

*** Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local.

You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or find her on Facebook.

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