Blue rain from a clear sky.
Our world a cube of sunlight –
but to the south
the violet admonition of thunder.
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell – from Blue Rain
Whoops, how embarrassing – I’d originally attributed this work of concrete poetry found on Wellington Writers’ Walk to Eileen Duggan…thanks, Epitome.
I should also point out that this work is ‘hiding’ under the wharf that’s a kind of porthole to the harbour, about half way between Te Papa and Circa Theatre. You need to go down the metal stairs, and there it is, with its back to the land (and the southerly) facing out on to the harbour and sun.
When I was a kid James K Baxter had established the commune up the Whanganui River at Hiruharama/Jerusalem. One of my friend’s brother was a regular visitor to the community, less for the spiritual aspects of Maori communal life and more for the ready availability of herbs. We all thought the commune and the associated lifestyle was very radical and somewhat frightening. Today, it would probably go unnoticed.
Good paraoa is less likely to go unnoticed. Paraoa is a bread unleavened by commercial yeasts; rather it uses wild yeasts captured and cultured with mashed potato. There are probably thousands of ‘the very best in the world, much better than your scungy bread’ recipes, but the recipes at maori-in-oz.com are probably not a bad place to start creating YOUR ‘best in the world’ bread. It seems laborious – and initially it is, but like so many things it gets easier and better with time. And time is of the essence – hand-made bread is an expression of patience and understanding. Comes as no surprise then that the Maori Jesus might smell of paraoa – and mussels – the loaves and fishes of Aotearoa.
Baxter’s concrete poem is found, apparently floating in the pool, on the northeastern side of Te Papa.
According to the wikipedia’s definition, concrete poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.
I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and acivity, and the warm decrepitude… there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance.
Down on Wellington’s waterfront, now a wonderful fusion of natural scenery and urban structures, there is a walk which is marked at various points by a series of large, concrete, typographic ‘text sculptures’ designed by Catherine Griffiths. Each sculpture contains a quote by a well-known New Zealand writer with strong Wellington connections.
The walk currently celebrates the work of 11 writers; Katherine Mansfield, James K Baxter, Robin Hyde, Bill Manhire, Bruce Mason, Patricia Grace, Maurice Gee, Patrick (Pat) Lawlor, Vincent O’Sullivan, Lauris Edmond, and Denis Glover.