John Tranter has published more than twenty collections of verse. His collection Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected won a number of major prizes. His latest book is Starlight: 150 Poems (UQP, 2010). He is the founding editor of the free Internet magazine Jacket (jacketmagazine.com), and he has a homepage and journal at johntranter.net.
John Tranter writes:
My Tapa Notebook experience was so closely aligned to my visit to the "SHORT TAKES ON LONG POEMS” symposium at Auckland University in March 2012 that I can't separate them. In fact the Notebook became a kind of log of my visit, with lots of photos of the conference and the various conference-goers and the teamwork "long poem" engraved on the beach at Waiheke Island.
Travelling by plane en route to Auckland I wrote a poem to read at the LOUNGE reading night, and it's included in the notebook: to be fair, it was a short trip, so I wrote a short poem, loosely based on Rimbaud's poem on the colours of the vowels:
A, green, the tint of absinthe dripping through
a wad of lawn clippings – E,
chartreuse, colour that only monks can see –
I, cloudy violet with sparkling points of blue
or paler, the fresh paint sheen of a car –
when new, easy to buy – old, hard to sell.
O, orange, the sound of a tolling bell
travelling over town and factory, very far –
U, under clear water, underwear –
your flight spoiled by lots of crying babies
though all of Europe is reflected in your eyes.
You think you hear, as you brush your hair,
the howling of a kennel full of hounds with rabies.
A rainbow as you land; then a career surprise.
How did I get the (digital) photos into the (material object) Notebook? I asked a nearby office bureau to copy a Photoshop page of photos onto color paper, then I cut them out, and pasted them in. In fact I did a lot of cutting out and pasting in: decoupage, it's called, these days.
Some samples above.
And while I was listening to Ella O'Keefe's paper on the poetry of the late Victorian (Australia) poet John Anderson I wrote a sonnet weaving some of his lines and some of Ella's lines into the fabric. This also appears in the notebook:
Poem Beginning with a line by John Anderson
It is the time of clarity, noon,
when one creature recognises another.
A banker sees a policeman as his brother.
A street sweeper leans against his broom.
The ants are my friends, also a rabbit.
The Jindyworobaks come to mind.
No European models – they're unkind,
and plunge us into war; horrible habit.
But our language comes from Europe: Latin,
Greek, Germanic, Indo-European roots.
In the pre-dawn chill, magic things happen.
An animal that never reads books eats boots
and leaves quickly. Dawn breeze, leaves
fall. Cut wheat stands in sheaves.
All in all it was a wonderful trip, and somehow the Tapa Notebook reified the excitement and the intellectual ferment of the experience into an object I am grateful to be able to preserve. On the net, and in the University Library in Auckland.
John Tranter and hoe on Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island, 30 March 2012.
Credit: Pam Brown