Writing in Whangarei

Author Archive

Vaughan Gunson’s new poetry collection

book cover1

To purchase Vaughan Gunson’s poetry collection this hill, all it’s about is lifting it to a higher level (2012) go to the website of the publisher Steele Roberts. Or send a cheque for $20 (includes postage) to Vaughan Gunson, 71A George Street, Hikurangi, Whangarei (with return address).

“This is a book I’ve been keenly awaiting. We’ve printed a number of Vaughan’s poems in Poetry New Zealand and I’ve come to admire and respect what he writes. His poems merge his concerns for the human and natural worlds into a unity that reflects the human condition and its expression in internal and external experience.”
 – Alistair Paterson, ONZM

“Vaughan Gunson’s this hill, all it’s about is lifting it to a higher level is a startling collection of poetry. Buoyed by Gunson’s eye for the unusual and precise and his cadent tongue, the book mines new and familiar territory in surprising and exciting ways.”
 – Siobhan Harvey, Takahe poetry editor andNational Poetry Day organiser

To listen to the Arts on Sunday (9 Dec 2012) Radio NZ interview with Vaughan Gunson click here.


Take Flight 4 out now

Click on image to download PDF of Take Flight 4 featuring poems by Michelle Elvy, Piet Nieuwland, Aaron Robertson, Arthur Fairley, Jac Jenkins, Martin Porter and Vaughan Gunson.

Crespuscle with Nellie

by Martin Porter

Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, Carnegie Hall, November 1957

They were not in his canon. Dizzy,
Billie, Ray, he stomped the same boards,
Chet and Sonny too

Humph he did not meet
but that did not stop
him writing

Effortless his playing
Unique undoubtedly in genius fashion
as peculiar as his hat



The angular notes
strike from the piano strings
like crimes

of Epistrophy:
angular dancesteps, complex,
astringent, roll like a spiked ball

John’s sax is calming. Laminated
sheets of space flow in long solos, probing
discovered corners of this difficult man. The joy is evident
while he plays, not one, not two, but
Many notes, all at once, or in rapid

Do you feel you have to get up
And dance?

Do you feel you have to sit down
To seize the opportunity?

Well, you needn’t.

Silence of the lamb

by Arthur Fairley

She refused
to take her words orally.
The earliest were force-fed by a

panicked mother. Hopefully
out of harm’s way. She began to dance
open-mouthed through the gland’s shadow,

a wail-harp is brought in,
little by little white notes are torn
from her throat

it is the breeding season of song.

a pub in Kaitaia on Anzac Day

by Vaughan Gunson

a space with more room
than what’s needed
pushes back
the hazy night crowd, watching
the play
at the pool table.

the young sailors
wearing ridiculously white
square collar shirts, low-cut
revealing tufts of hair
on their backs.

they look
like guys I went to school with,
not men
standing on a ship
in the Dardanelles.

then there’s the boys
in Wu-Tang jackets
wondering what the fuck
I’m doing here.

the woman in the yellow jersey
with the fluffy neck
sinks the black
in a corner pocket,
there’s few claps of applause.

her opponent,
a grey bearded gentleman in shorts
goes over to her, they embrace
& kiss each other
on the cheek.

everyone who’s been watching
turns to talk
to someone else.

I raise my glass
to the Wu-Tang boys

who smile back.

Twinkle, twinkle, little planet

by Bernard Heise

When the first incidents occurred in Cairo, Berlin, Toronto and Wichita, people mistook them for acts of terrorism. But the reality was worse. Eyewitness reports indicated that the individuals involved were not setting off suicide bombs but rather were the victims of some sort of fire that spontaneously flamed from within before making them explode. Certainly, the explosions weren’t nearly as powerful as a typical suicide bomb, but they could easily kill or maim anyone nearby, obliterate a taxicab or disable a bus. And, apart from a large sect of evangelical Christians who were convinced, despite biblical inconsistencies, that they were witnessing the rapture and eagerly anticipated their own combustion, most people found them much more frightening, for they were completely unpredictable and unexplained. As the frequency of such incidents grew, so did the probability that within any group an individual would ignite. Like the Black Death, the threat was indiscriminate, failing to honor the privileges of socio-political distinction. Explosions were taking place in homeless shelters, corporate boardrooms, at cabinet meetings, and family dinner tables. As they looked into each other’s eyes, friends, comrades, and lovers not only recognized their mutual affection but now also understood that they were the likely agents of their own mutual destruction. And so it was that people stopped working and playing. Instead, they slipped their bonds of sociability and fled the burning cities, seeking solitude in the forests and the hills, where they forgot their language and waited in silence for the fire within.

The night vodka got into the compost

by Martin Porter

Franz Kafka, diaries 1910-1923

Were we crazy?
We ran through the park at night
Swinging branches until our leaves fell,
Exhausted, laughing at the full Moon,
Roots free at last, tasting fresh air
For the first time, enlivening their thirst
For ground waters again.

We might have been observed…

We watch you in the day,
Little people tripping over the stones
Crushing grass in the haste to get
From where to where?
Kicking up the gravel.
Dance on, hasty fools,
What concern is it of mine?