This weekend update arrives a day late (and maybe a dollar short) because yesterday I had a flying visit to Booktown (aka Featherston). I was there as one of the Pop Up Poets - a fairly challenging gig, but it’s always a treat to spend an hour or so in a car with Richard Langston. We’ve done a few readings together over the last year - our books were released a week apart and via the same publisher and we’ve read together in Wellington, Palmerston North, the Wairarapa and Kapiti and will probably do some more readings soon no doubt. Always a pleasure. Oh and in case you missed it Richard was on RNZ today reading a poem for Mother’s Day.
The other great thing was doing a cover poem - I read from Helen Lehndorf’s very fine collection The Comforter which I discovered a few years back in Wellington Central Library. I also found a great Denis Glover collection and read a short one from that as well as a couple of new poems I’ve written recently (one about dog shit, one about surviving Y2K and a poem from my book - Quatrain Refrain was the one I chose, and I don’t think I’ve ever read that one out before…)
This week I was on RNZ talking about new music - always fun to do this (a monthly occurance, usually) and this week I gushed about Dianne Swann’s debut solo album (which I mentioned here a couple of weeks back) and the new Dinosaur Jr album. I won’t include my written reviews here as well but they’re in that link above - so you can click there to either hear the Radio NZ chat or to read the album reviews.
This week’s podcast was a ripper too. A chat with Mark Rogers - he hosts RNZ’s Nashvilly Babylon, he’s a man about town with music - been a promoter and publicist, a DJ, wrangler, raconteur - also runs a books and antique store in Masterton (Bear Flag Books And Retro) and so of course I bumped into him again yesterday up in/at Booktown! But a great chat with Mark - he’s seen and done and heard many cool things and the conversation just flows.
Mali Mali is the name Ben Tolich uses to record and perform under - he has made a handful of exquisite records, and his latest is a wee EP (released late last year) that includes a tremendous cover of the great Bob Dylan song, Changing Of The Guards. I finally got around to reviewing this in the prep to last week’s chat I had with Ben (my first time actually meeting him). You’ll get to hear that conversation soon on the podcast.
It was great to get to the theatre again - for Things I Know To Be True. Best thing I’ve seen in a while. Great writing and performances. A must.
Usually I recommend things here - rather than be negative. So let’s re-frame this. I’m recommending here that you do not bother with the new Van Morrison album. He’s lost the plot completely. Silly old fool not trusting the government and science, and fearful of foreigners - it’s basically 28 angry letters to the editor. BOO! (Had fun writing about it though, can’t lie).
You’re probably well aware that I’m a massive Billie Holiday fan - so through that I discovered Mandy Barnett and her latest album. It’s a song-by-song cover of Lady in Satin (not the first artist to do that recently). But nice to find out about Barnett - a great singer. And these versions are probably easier to take for many than Holiday’s. Lush arrangments still, the full 60-piece orchestra treatment. Lovely.
Went to the library - as I do at least once or twice a week - and got a bag-load of brand new poetry. Too many things to mention here, but recent collections or volumes by Jim Harrison, Carl Phillips, Barbara Kingsolver, Jorie Graham, Danez Smith and Morgan Parker among others. Will report back with any super great findings.
During the week I read at the Poetry in Motion open-mic and I met Michael Botur who was in town and gave me his collected poems (very kindly) so that’s on the list now too.
My recent reconnection with all things Peanuts has me digging out this old biography of Schulz which isn’t as complete as recent volumes but is very readable.
Absolutely loved Kajillionaire - pretty big Miranda July fan, in general. But this also reminded me of when Todd Solondz was writing the weirdest, smartest, darkest movies and it sat in nicely alongside my recent David Lynch fix, in a way. Anyway, a brilliant old-school indie feel to this film. Huge heart and humanity present.
Here is your weekly reminder that Devious Maids is the greatest TV show in the history of transmission. By the time you read this we’ll have moved on to season three in this house.
The Documentary Edge Festival is always a winter highlight. Click the link there to check out the program. Many of the films are available online now also - I’ve been sent a bunch of screener links and have started in earnest - some cool things I’ve watched this week already, and many more to come. I’ll be reviewing those as part of future Sounds Good! newsletters and/or over on Off The Tracks. Starting very soon.
I started listening to the new Sarah Mary Chadwick album this week. She’s fantastic - so I’ll just link you to her Bandcamp and you can check it from there, I’ll include a clip of a song here too. But the latest album (Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby) is superb.
It got me thinking back to this great Aussie band from the late-90s/early-00s that I was lucky to see a couple of times. The Foots. And also Kirsty Stegwazi (a solo act that toured with The Foots and even appeared on some of their records). You can usually find music when you remember it - but if it’s not on Spotify or YouTube it’s somewhere and I was so chuffed to find The Foots on Bandcamp. Check them out. Such a great band.
John Swartzwelder wrote more episodes of The Simpsons than any other staff writer. He left the show a while back but contributed to many of the iconic TV cartoon’s greatest single episodes. This week he gave his first ever interview it was published in the New Yorker and picked up and shared in many other places. It’s filled with great wisdom, writing tips, humour and a little darkness. Swartzwelder is reclusive and self-publishes comic noir novels. But you really should click on that link and read the interview. It’s so, so good. In fact that’s all I want to link to.
Oh, alright, one more link. My son Oscar posts all his writing and projects at his site called Fascinating Inspires. He’s nine years old. And appears to be up and running with projects to share again. Lol. Good on him! Apples/trees, etc.
I know Mother’s Day can be as triggering - and sad - for some as it is happy/nostalgic for others. So love and care and support to you and yours and to all the mothers out there.
And I hope you have a great week ahead.