Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The magic of the South. And Lush. And Turner.

Last week I almost put myself into an hysterics-induced, frantic seizure. You can imagine how fun that was for the polite, softly spoken beauty therapist who had lit candles and prepared a room with hot towels, pan flute music and a cup of herbal tea for me in preparation for...my eyebrows.

I had secured a Pearl Jam ticket. I was seeing some of my family that weekend.

The high points though?

I'd just heard the most exciting rumour that Marcus Lush was back on our screen with his new series South on Channel One. Seriously. Can he top Off the Rails? After Sunday's premiere, I'd say there's a good chance. Teepee cults on Stewart Island, moments of reflection in his hometown of Bluff, the usual inquisitive/mickey taking but not spiteful approach to interviewing quirky characters/embracing of the old adage 'different strokes for different folks'...I eagerly await the next episode. Hell, the day I can buy it on DVD!

Anyway, don't be thinking I haven't already started drafting a post about trains + Radio Live + Marcus Lush. Because I have. It's pending, and it is TOUGH to execute.

So. There I am, bursting to get home and confirm said rumour, tapping my fingers on each side of the bed, trying to process this new series AND the fact that bestowed upon me in Unity Books was a total surprise.
Brian Turner. New volume of poetry. Entitled 'Just This'. For some reason I am biding time to buy it. I think with the bustling life that is so at the moment (the sun comes out and days suddenly fill up!), I don't want to have it at home knowing I can't just hide away for a day and delve into the latest grumblings, beautifully narrated thoughts and delicate observations on nature from BT. Turner is someone, a Kiwi someone that I have, rightly, wrongly, however it has happened, almost deified really. He believes one succeeds by posessing courage in the face of adversity. When interviewed on Dunedin's Channel 9, he remains undeterred by the fact that poetry books, when published 'punch above their weight' when selling. He is deeply concerned at how we, by and large, treat this environment and if 'we don't stop, it'll be curtains'. I found it interesting, though not surprising, to read in an ODT article that Turner had 'run out of steam' with his intense level of campaigning around Meridian's 2007 consent application to build a new wind farm in the Rock & Pillar Ranges (incorrectly stated in hearings as being on Lammermoor Ranges) down in Central Otago (Meridian's side of things can be viewed here). Bitterness really does only eat you up, and I guess depsite seeing his big skies, vast landscapes and the flora & fauna, BT keeps on keeping on. As a 'practical idealist', Turner's poetry is the kind that one should read with an acceptance of cycnicism, a hope for humanity and an embrace of romanticism. Often poets are shunned into a corner, not to be taken seriously like 'real authors'. I think what people forget is that poetry, the poetry I identify with anyhow, is conceived, written in a manner that gives you a meaning that is face value, but also inspires you to dig a little deeper, think for yourself. Poetry isn't to be spoon fed, though it is a delight to share, to savour.
I think what BT does for me is remind me of the person I want to be. Of the morals and values I want to hold on to despite living in a city, working at a desk.

Roger Robinson describes Turner's poetry as 'tough honesty', which is a unique description to hold considering to write poetry you need to be...hmm, not sensitive, but almost painfully aware of your surroundings. Poet Emma Neale puts it much more eloquently: you have to be `thin-skinned' - have a heightened reception to the world around you'.

While there is always room for tenderness, human emotion, nostalgia, cheeky sarcasm (which I rate); Turner has no qualms in stating through his work that there are no tricks up his sleeve. What you see is what you get, and I like that about him. Life teaches you that talk is cheap, and those that are earnest can sometimes be fooled: inadvertently or not. In poetry, you are quickly busted for being cheap. But further to this, you can go back to Turner, again and again, and always feel something different, or re-read a poem with fresh eyes, or a new understanding. The more you grow, the more I think you'll understand his point of view more and more.

John Keats commented that poets are usually able to identify with everyone in the room to the point where their identities merge: Turner does this. He doesn't stereotype, yet he somehow articulates notions on common ground. If you don't know poetry, I urge you to start with BT. A national sports rep, with national sports rep brothers, a love for fishing, literature, our country: why wouldn't you?

I'll leave you with a poem I once passed on to a friend of mine who is a good kiwi bloke but has a touch of SNAG in him as well (...there's a 90's acronym we all wanted to forget. Well forget it, the renaissance is here!). BT was just the man to help me out...


It's nice when they volunteer
the benefit of their experience,

which is to take it on the chin,
mate, move on and make a clean

break. It's as if they think
emotions are like bones

that grow back more or less
in the same place, and fresh

starts are as simple as lining up
week after week for another

club event that affects no one's
national ranking. Fine, chaps,

fine, but it's not that easy.
Perhaps it's better to have

an end in mind and hope
you've a mind in the end.

Until next time!


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