Short Takes on the Long Poem

Auckland, New Zealand, poetry conference

New Zealand map, text by John Tranter
New Zealand map, text by John Tranter

I left Sydney at dawn on Wednesday 28 March 2012 headed South-east over the Tasman Sea, aiming for New Zealand, on an Emirates A380 Airbus, a massive double-decker airplane that drives like an aircraft carrier full of warm mud.

I had been invited to attend the Short Takes on the Long Poem symposium at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, right at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean. If you look South-west into the setting sun from San Diego and fly at thirty thousand feet for fourteen hours, there it is. From Sydney you do the opposite, more or less, except that is a much shorter trip.
You can read hundreds of pages of poems and commentary and see dozens of sparkling photos on my Main Site here.

That evening I donned my disguise as an executive of the Hartford Fire and General Insurance Company, to wit, a fine wool summer-weight suit, and a subdued tartan tie; the tartan in honour of my mother’s Scottish-New-Zealand forebears — my mother had been born in Invercargill, a place in southern New Zealand satisfyingly colder than the Shetland Islands, whence her maternal ancestry.

On the opening night, I took part in the ten-person poetry reading at Auckland’s Old Government House, a sedate and spacious venue in a leafy park across the road from the hotel, in the University grounds. The readers were Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Pam Brown, Dinah Hawken, David Howard, Jill Jones, Cilia McQueen, Jack Ross, Susan Schultz, Hazel Smith, Robert Sullivan and John Tranter.
Read more here:
Text and Photos: Auckland: University of Auckland Symposium: “Short Takes on Long Poems”, 28-30 March, 2012

  1. Wednesday evening: lots of short, fast poems
  2. Thursday early: papers
  3. Thursday: My long slow poem “The Anaglyph”
  4. Thursday, later: papers
  5. Friday: On the beach — the longest poem on earth!
  6. Summary: Rachel Blau DuPlessis Wraps it Up

You can also read my handwritten 110-page Tapa Notebook from the Auckland Symposium: these detailed notebook pages include idle comments, photos, my clumsy handwriting, various odd decoupage objects pasted in and colourful native stamps, to misquote Australian poet John Forbes. See it all here: my Tapa Notebook.

Photo below: John Tranter and Lisa Samuels at a Chinese Restaurant in Auckland, after the poetry reading. Photo courtesy Pam Brown. Note the tie. Is that tartan?

John Tranter and Lisa Samuels at a Chinese Restaurant, after the poetry reading Photo courtesy Pam Brown