Strata, and a performance

strata 1Taking a leap into the unknown, going, as they say ‘out of my comfort zone’, tonight marks the first Venus Vulture live performance. This is at Swampfest, the Palmerston North annual event showcasing local musicians (and, this year, hosting me).

In about five hours. Hmm! I’ve written here before about the fun I have making music and seeing what I can come up with. Ambient soundscapes and drones and quiet minimal stuff.

But this is a different thing. Live. Performance.


Now, I do make music using a modular synthesizer, so there’s an element of just turning it on and sound comes out. Quite distinct from having to hold the chords on a guitar as the player strums, or, well, actually playing any kind of non-electronic instrument.

I’m using my Unpredictability Machine – which you can see here on Modulargrid. Performing a piece called “Strata”

So, yeah, I do need to turn the knobs at the right time, and cue up the samples in the right order. All while standing in front of people. Actual people. You know, real musicians, who tend to be the people who come to Swampfest.

Fifteen minutes is all. Not long, right. Should be fine. Heh. Do I seem intimidate? Nah.

Anyway, in the lead up and preparing for the night, I’ve recorded some of my sessions and released them on Bandcamp. Pay what you like, or just have a listen online.

With focus, the show might even sound pretty close to this.

And thanks to so many people for their encouragement in taking this leap.

Bizarre confusion for a contradictory world

Usually I don’t have my cellphone with me when I’m out walking or jogging. On one strange morning, however I did (that’s another long story). Anyway, startled by a sign I took this photo:

So, crossing the road to use the other side, I found this:

It doesn’t make too much sense to me (I’m sure a robot would expend its batteries crossing back and forth). I guess in some kind of bizarre logic it works – really it was only a short section of the footpath on each side closed, but it did appeal to my sense of humour.

New Shoes, Old Eyes – in Poetry on Palmy

My poem New Shoes, Old Eyes was third equal in a local competition here, and has now been published twice – once in The Tribune, a community newspaper, and again in the Urban Care Poetry on Palmy booklet. It’s neat to have a placing and be published.

Occasionally an author loses control over formatting – usually not a big deal, and editors often have better ideas. Unfortunately in both printings of my poem the formatting has been changed and some of the impact of the poem is lost. Sometimes with poems the first line is also the title – as with Medusa Medusa, so there is a repetition. Other times the title is quite distinct – as with Carnival Cage. The latter is the case with New Shoes, Old Eyes – even if in the booklet the title is not bolded and seems to be the first line, it’s not meant that way – the rhythm is different and it would work better if, as with most of the other poems in the book, if it was in bold and separate.

In both printings the poem appears as a single stanza – without the stanza breaks. As Tim Keeton pointed out with Medusa Medusa, the breaks “make the lines more impactful”. With New Shoes, Old Eyes, those stanza breaks are part of the cadence/rhythm of the poem.

Anyway, enough griping. Here is the poem as I’d intended it to appear:

New Shoes, Old Eyes

Returning to your frigid grid
of fragile kerbs
and surly kids
where turbined hills
spill spun white glass
above the river’s
placid parks,

I stride straight streets
in crisp new shoes,
cross blocks of grass
and tarmac spurs
to find the clipped green

box now sculpted

like the slick
stockcar track
by boys and girls
born since
I left.

Certainly it’s a poem about Palmerston North – aimed at the competition, and loaded with stuff familiar to locals.

New Shoes, Old Eyes – poem gets 3rd place in local contest

My poem submitted for the Urban Care – Poetry on Palmy contest has come third equal and, yay, there’s a prize-giving this afternoon. It’s great to get a place, but also neat to have something in the real world – so much of my writing now is here on your screen: I’ll be mixing with real people today. The competition was to write a poem about our hometown Palmerston North (New Zealand). The poem will probably be published at some point, but here are the first few lines:

New Shoes, Old Eyes

Returning to your frigid grid
Of fragile kerbs
And surly kids
Where turbined hills
spill spun white glass

If you’re in Palmy and happen to read this beforehand, the prize-giving is at 4pm at Square Edge.