- [23/9/16] - Leicester Kyle & Paul Celan: 2 Corrections
- [1/8/15] - Jen Crawford on Colenso in Cordite 51: Transtasman
- [30/4/15] - Introduction to The Millerton Sequences online
- [14/3/14] - "Celan & Kyle: The Zone & the Plateau" in KMKO 13
- [13/3/14] - Publication of The Millerton Sequences
- [2/10/13] - COHSS Seminar at Massey Albany
- [10/7/13] - Reflection piece in the NZ Geographic
- [17/6/13] - Paper at Transcultural Imaginaries Conference
- [9/1/13] - Launch of online Selected Shorter Poems
- [12/12/12] - Publication of The Orchids of New Zealand
- [6/9/12] - Mention of Leicester Kyle on Bibliophilia
- [9/7/12] - Mention of Leicester Kyle in the NZ Geographic
- [30/3/12] - Short Takes on Long Poems Paper
- [29/11/11] - Launch of online Jacket2 feature
- [12/11/11] - Rose Centre Talk
- [4/11/11] - Publication of Koroneho
- [4/7/11] - Launch of online Collected Poems
[K. J. Walker: Powelliphanta augusta (2005)]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to point out a couple factual errors in my article "Paul Celan & Leicester Kyle: The Zone & the Plateau" [Ka Mate Ka Ora 13: 54-71] which have been pointed out by two correspondents, Dave Johnson and Kath Walker:
... The passage in my essay reads:
His father, a journalist with some literary ambitions (he worked with Allen Curnow on the Christchurch Press) came from a well-established Greymouth family, but found it difficult to adjust to life in the city. He committed suicide when Leicester was still in his teens. [60-61]Mr Johnson, in his email of 29th October 2014, makes these adjustments: “Cecil committed suicide (without meaning to) as he rang Helga [Leicester’s mother – JR] on the day of his death asking when she would be home. She was delayed by well over an hour and when she found him after he had swallowed his pills and binged it was too late to save him. Leicester was 29, not a teenager.”
He goes on to comment:
The snail Millertonii you mentioned is not the one from Mt. Augusta (now strip mined) I actually found the first specimen when we tramped up to the old Rainbow mine while botanising. Leicester thought the shell looked different and sent it off to Ch.Ch. It was eventually given the specific name Augusta.This refers to the passage in pp. 62-64 of my essay about the discovery of the rare “Millerton snail,” which I have unfortunately confused with another, even rarer snail discovered on Mt. Augusta.
[Siliga David Setoga: White Sunday (2014)]
A review-article on Leicester Kyle's Koroneho by Jen Crawford in the Australian journal Cordite Poetry Review - full title: "Transplanting Colenso: Taxonomy and Translocation in Leicester Kyle’s Koroneho: Joyful News Out of the New Found World."
[Leicester Kyle: The Millerton Sequences (2014)]
A posting on the Atuanui Press website of the entire text of my introduction to Leicester's The Millerton Sequences (pp. 1-25), together with the text of the poem "Death of a Landscape" (pp. 81-95)
[Ka Mate Ka Ora 13 (March, 2014)]
An article in the online poetics journal Ka Mate Ka Ora designed to point out certain similarities between the concept of space in the poetry of Paul Celan and Leicester Kyle.
[Leicester Kyle: The Millerton Sequences (2014)]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to advertise the appearance of The Millerton Sequences, edited by me (with a poem by David Howard) and published by Atuanui Press, on February 6th:
"... Well, I certainly hope that the subscribers and contributors to brief 50 - the projects issue are pleased with the results of my editing and Brett Cross's stunning text and cover design. More to the point, I hope they're happy to get, as a special bonus with this fiftieth issue of the magazine, a free copy of Leicester Kyle's Millerton Sequences ...
You can find out a lot more about the book here, if you're curious. And, yes, copies are still on sale from the Atuanui Press website. ..."
Atrium building, Albany Campus
[photograph: Jack Ross]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum (24/9/13) to advertise the talk on "The Poetics of the Denniston Plateau" I'll be giving next week in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences seminar series:
"In a recent reflection piece on the mining of the Denniston Plateau in NZ Geographic magazine [# 122 (July-August, 2013): 114], Editor-at–large Kennedy Warne asked:
To what extent … did John Hanlon’s song “Damn the Dam”, which topped the singles chart for 1973, help tip the balance against the raising of Lake Manapouri? Did Grahame Sydney’s paintings and Brian Turner’s poems celebrating Central Otago landscapes influence public perception of a wind farm proposal for the Lammermoor Range?
He goes on to speculate that “perhaps a shared cultural esteem offers a more resilient protection than laws ever can.”
In this paper I would like to examine the ongoing influence of poet Leicester Kyle’s cultural and conservationist activism on the West Coast during the last seven years of his life, from 1998 to 2006. During this period he published a number of books and poems critical of Solid Energy’s plans for the development of the Stockton Plateau – most prominently The Great Buller Coal Plateaux (2001).
Warne concludes his piece in NZ Geographic as follows:
… for me … it is Kyle who catches the breath of this place and warns of the impending silence – just as he did for Happy Valley, the contentious Solid Energy mining site near Stockton. In his lament for that landscape, he spoke of the birds, writing poignantly: “they have no song for apocalypse”.
Could it be that it is only now, seven years after his death, that Kyle’s work is beginning to have the influence he hoped for it all along? In what sense can (or should) poetry aspire to have agency in cases such as this?"
[NZ Geographic 122 (July-August, 2013)]
"On Reflection: The birds have no song for apocalypse" - An article about Leicester Kyle by Editor-at-Large Kennedy Warne in the New Zealand Geographic 122 (July-August, 2013): 114.
[On Reflection (p.114)]
The birds have no song for apocalypse
Editor-at-Large Kennedy Warne considers the place of poets as stewards of landscape
I was up ‘the hill’ in April — on Earth Day, as it happened. Ever since I first visited Denniston a year ago to write about the place I have found myself taking any opportunity to go back. Something about this upland bog and its bonsai forests has got under my skin. The fact that it might soon have a 100-hectare hole in it, a pit deep enough to swallow a 20-storey building, undoubtedly focuses the mind on appreciating its virtues while you can.
I drove the rough familiar road towards Mt Rochfort, and walked to the escarpment edge, that irresistible precipice where you could wish to be Icarus and soar across unbroken forest where birdsong floats upward like draughts of warm air. Clouds crept in from the Tasman, twining among the pillars and outcrops of this sandstone Stonehenge, and soon I was standing in what poet Leicester Kyle called “an alien world of silences”, a place where fog grows so thick “it’s dark by day and all you can see is a shadow”.
For me, Kyle’s words have become as much a part of this landscape as the centuries-old conifers that spreadeagle their roots across the stone slabs, the gentians and eyebrights flowering in soaked soil, the velvet worms and vagrant spiders lurking under rocks — the incomparable richness and mystery of this plateau.
Kyle lived just eight years on the Coast — the last eight of his life — so hard-core Coasters probably consider him an outsider, and a traitorous one at that, because he broke ranks and questioned what was happening on Stockton plateau, not far from the house where he lived. He watched Mt Frederick decapitated by coal company Solid Energy, and wrote a poem about it. Why do miners need to take the top off mountains, he asked. “Pillage is the privilege of man,” he concluded, “who likes to stand sturdily on his given domain and see it go on without end and forever.”
The battle over Denniston seems to have been grinding its way through courts and commissioners’ hearings “without end and forever”. Each side’s champions have been duking it out over matters ranging from the precise levels of threat facing plateau wildlife to the size of the projected economic boost to West Coast communities.
Kyle’s poetry offers testimony in a different arena: moral imagination. He believed there were ethical as well as practical choices to be made in regard to the environment, and that poetry could serve as nature’s patron, just as nature is often poetry’s muse.
In 2006, the year he died, he wrote: “I’m fascinated by what poetry can do, what it can achieve, change and record in a region.” But he wondered if it would ever achieve the place in our culture that it has overseas, where poetry has even led revolutions. “In other lands the plants and animals are protected by the love they’re held in and poetically identified by it,” he wrote, “but here this is lacking and our environment is without the most powerful protection it could have.”
This is an intriguing thought. Isn’t a listing in Schedule 4 — the statutory register of the country’s most valuable conservation land—the highest protection our environment can have? In one sense, yes. But statutes change, reflecting shifts in social priorities. Perhaps a shared cultural esteem offers a more resilient protection than laws ever can.
To what extent, I wonder, did John Hanlon’s song “Damn the Dam”, which topped the singles chart for 1973, help tip the balance against the raising of Lake Manapouri? Did Grahame Sydney’s paintings and Brian Turner’s poems celebrating Central Otago landscapes influence public perception of a wind farm proposal for the Lammermoor Range?
Artists see the world in a different register, and can help us tune in to that frequency. So when we read this statement of the commissioners who presided at the Resource Management Act hearings into the Denniston mine application — “it is abundantly clear that large scale mining is poised to invade the entire Denniston Plateau coal reserves which, if unchecked, will totally destroy the ecosystems which are present” — we might recollect this snatch of verse from Kyle, writing about Stockton, Denniston’s neighbour to the north:
All gone or going
This landscape from the Eocene
Is being ploughed
For the faulted seamed and fossilled fuel beneath
For it they take a mountain top
Smother poison level flood extinguish
This old part of us
Kyle wasn’t the only Coaster to question the ethics of extraction. Down the road at Greymouth, schoolteacher, bookshop owner and author Peter Hooper beat a drum for nature during the Muldoon years and into the 1980s, when the main environmental battlegrounds on the Coast were its living forests, not their ancient carbon residues. Hooper lamented his countrymen’s “failure to relate to the community of the land” and wrote that even “crowded England’s care of much of her landscape shames New Zealand’s creation of a soulless land-utilisation-scape”.
But for me, standing on the escarpment, it is Kyle who catches the breath of this place and warns of the impending silence—just as he did for Happy Valley, the contentious Solid Energy mining site near Stockton. In his lament for that landscape, he spoke of the birds, writing poignantly: “they have no song for apocalypse”. Their song may be quelled, but the poet’s words sound on.
Leicester Kyle’s poetry collection The Great Buller Coal Plateaux can be found online at http://bit.ly/11Httw7
Perhaps the greatest risk for the reading of Celan in our time ... is that … crippling exceptionalism has made his work a symbol of his fate rather than an active matrix for an ongoing poetic practice.In her launch speech for my book Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan (2012), Michele Leggott talked of the idea of “airlifting” material from one cultural matrix into another – in this case, taking German poems by a Central European poet addressed to his Francophone wife, and transferring them into English.
– Charles Bernstein
Leggott justified this act in terms of the emotional identification we can all feel with the tragic story of Paul and his wife, artist Gisèle Celan-Lestrange. This reading is strengthened by the presence, in Celanie, of two portfolios of drawings by New Zealand artist Emma Smith.
In a recent review of Maori poet Vaughan Rapatahana, Scott Hamilton suggests, by contrast, that Celan’s work offers an ideal model for Rapatahana’s hostility towards the English language, and his anxiety at retaining it as his principal medium of expression, despite its inevitable colonial overtones.
While not wishing to dispute either of these interpretations, I’d like to suggest a third way of justifying the ongoing relevance of Celan’s work by discussing the affinities I find between Celan and New Zealand poet and environmental activist Leicester Kyle.
Ecology, spirituality and mourning are themes particularly addressed by both poets. Reading them together may help us understand the resurgence of these factors in contemporary poetics.
– Dr Jack Ross, Massey University (14/1/13)
Making New, Making Strange
(14–17 June 2013)
A Moving Worlds Conference
NTU [Nanyang Technological University] Singapore
Making New, Making Strange
(14–17 June 2013)
A Moving Worlds Conference
NTU [Nanyang Technological University] Singapore
Boxfiles I-IV (of 8)
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to celebrate the posting of my selection from Leicester's Collected Shorter Poems boxfiles online:
"... a few statistics to mull over:
To be more precise, there are 746 poems and sequences included in the two boxfiles (some in more than one version). This translates to 860 separate poems, occupying the 957 pages listed above. Quite a few of them (66, to be precise [= 80 poems / pages]) are, admittedly, included in one or other of the 23 books. But then there are another 36 uncollected poems among his computer files, not to mention various miscellaneous verses in Christmas cards, pamphlets, etc.
- 19 published books (1996-2005) = 913 pp.
- 4 posthumous books (1996-2006) = 303 pp.
- 2 boxfiles of shorter poems (1983-2006) = 957 pp.
In all, then, I've so far counted up 2194 pages of poetry left behind by Leicester on his death. The 23 major books account for 1216 pp. of this. I've also posted 14 pp. of miscellaneous pamphlets and ephemera, plus 24 of the 36 uncollected poems on the website. Of the remaining 746 shorter poems and sequences, I've selected roughly a quarter, 193 [200/680 poems; 253/957 pages]. This brings the grand total up to 1570 pp. of his poetry now available online."
[Leicester Kyle: The Orchids of New Zealand (2012)]
Ian St George of the New Zealand Native Orchid group has sent me a copy of:
Leicester Kyle. The Orchids of New Zealand. 1956-1957. Compiled by Ian St George. ISSN 0114-5568. Historical Series, no. 19. Wellington: New Zealand Native Orchid Group, 2012. 30 pp.
Here's a section from his preface:
"These notes are significant for two reasons.
The first is that they are the only lengthy appraisal of the New Zealand orchids between Hatch's papers and Moore's work published in Flora II. The nomenclature pretty much follows Hatch, but there is much that is original too, especially the observations from the West Coast. It is written in lay terms, as advice to growers.
The second reason is that they were written by the late Leicester Kyle - at one time a member of our NZ Native Orchid Group, and a contributor to our journals - now recognized as an important environmentalist, poet, historian, scientist and priest."
[Melior Simms' Gallery Site]
A posting on Melior Simms' blog Bibliophilia recommending Leicester Kyle's 2001 book The Great Buller Coal Plateaux.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Poems of the Plateaux
I'm sorry that the blog is being neglected even more than usual. I'm moving right now (well I moved last weekend, but its taking a while to sort myself from one room into a whole house). So no time to blog.
Besides I'm not making any art at the moment, just making home which is itself an art. When things look a bit nicer I promise I'll give you a tour. Right now there's not much to see but piles of boxes and stray bits of furniture sitting forlornly in odd places waiting for their new assignments.
While you are waiting Bibliophila to resume regular posting I highly recommend this collection of poems about Denniston and Stockton Plateaux by the late Leicester Kyle. I have to thank Bronwyn Lloyd for letting me know about this site because the poems really resonated for me.
Posted by Meliors Simms at 8:27 AM
Labels: home, mining, pathetic excuses, poetry
[NZ Geographic 116 (July-August, 2012)]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to advertise some citations of Leicester Kyle in an article in the New Zealand Geographic 116 (July-August, 2012): 48-79.
I had an interesting phone conversation a couple of months ago with journalist Kennedy Warne, who was working on an article about the implications of further strip-mining of coal on the West Coast of the South Island. He'd just come across my Leicester Kyle website, and was fascinated - above all - by Leicester's lyrical sequence of protest poems The Great Buller Coal Plateaux (2001) ...
Kennedy Warne's article "The Black and the Green" concludes as follows:
On my last day at Denniston, I return to the escarpment. The place has a strange drawing power. Leicester Kyle must have felt it too, standing here, as he put it, on the "world's bright edge." For him, it was a cross-roads that invited a person to examine old ideas and consider new ones. He wrote:
As soon as you stand here
you know you know it
All roads end here
and somewhere else begins.
"My plan is to discuss the challenge of posting Leicester Kyle’s long poem Koroneho: Joyful News Out Of The New Found World (1996-2001) in cyberspace. I will show how I’ve presented the poem on the dual website set up by Kyle’s Literary Estate to make his collected poems accessible online. See Leicester Kyle. Index to the Collected Poems.
I’d also like to compare my conservatively edited e-text with the more readable version of the poem, which has recently appeared in book form: Koroneho: Joyful News Out Of The New Found World. Edited by Jack Ross. Preface by Ian St George. Auckland: The Leicester Kyle Literary Estate / Wellington: The Colenso Society, 2011 (a joint publication with the Colenso Society, for William Colenso’s Bicentennial).
The focus of the presentation will therefore be twofold. First, the practical (and theoretical) difficulties of transferring the main texts of Kyle’s oeuvre, twenty-odd eccentrically printed book-length poems, to a website both cheaply and efficiently. Second, the fascinating tale of Koroneho itself: a poem which initially appeared in part in Alan Loney’s A Brief Description of the Whole World in 1996-97, but whose complete text did not become available to me until early 2011. Taking as his subject matter the life and explorations of pioneer missionary, printer, and naturalist William Colenso (1811-1899) (whose Māori name was “Koroneho”) Kyle expertly weaves letters, historical details, and the language of botanical description to create an epic about orchids: a long poem “containing history”, like Pound’s Cantos, but with a style more consciously modelled on the linguistic experimentation of Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers.
Jack Ross is a poet, editor and critic who teaches at Massey University's Albany Campus in Auckland. His recent books include Scenes from the Puppet Oresteia (NY: Narcissus Press, 2011), Kingdom of Alt (Titus Books, 2010) and The Return of the Vanishing New Zealander (Kilmog Press, 2009). He runs a blog called The Imaginary Museum."
[Emma Smith: green thigh (2011)]
"Leicester Kyle (1937–2006) spent the last seven or so years of his life living in the tiny hamlet of Millerton, on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, where he wrote some of his most important poetry. A priest, poet, and radical environmentalist, Kyle held ecological concerns that seem even more relevant now than they did during his lifetime. Nor has his literary work yet reached all of the audiences it was intended for. In association with my co-literary executor, David Howard, I’ve set up a website to publicize his work and (hopefully, in the fullness of time) make his collected writings accessible online. You can find more details here.
— Jack Ross."
[Poems by Leicester Kyle:
"Happy Valley" (31/10/03) &
"I Like It When The Sun Doesn’t Shine" (12/9/03)].
"Jack Ross, PhD, lecturer in English at Massey University, will be the guest speaker at the Rose Centre in Belmont on November 12 at 2 pm. His appearance completes a decade of hosting New Zealand top authors and poets by the Rose Centre Writers. Dr Ross will be speaking on the life and work of Leicester Kyle, eco-poet, botanist and environmentalist and retired Anglican priest who was well-known in Auckland before his death on the West Coast in 2006. Join the Rose Centre Writers and enjoy the talk and a cup of tea afterwards for $5. Contact Hazel at 489-7203 or email email@example.com."
["Speaker." North Shore Times Advertiser (1 November, 2011): 5].
[Leicester Kyle: Koroneho (2011)]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to advertise the appearance of Koroneho, a co-publication by the Colenso Society and the Leicester Kyle Literary Estate:
Leicester Kyle. Koroneho: Joyful News Out Of The New Found World. Edited with a Introduction by Jack Ross. Preface by Ian St George. ISBN 978-0-9876604-0-4. Auckland: The Leicester Kyle Literary Estate / Wellington: The Colenso Society, 2011. ii + 110 pp.
"... If you'd like to purchase a copy of Koroneho, you can either contact me here online or at the address given on the cover page of the Leicester Kyle website. They're $NZ 10 each (plus $2 postage & packing).
Or you can write to Ian St George, secretary of the Colenso Society, at:
The Colenso Society Inc.
c/o 22 Orchard St.
For more about the centennial conference, see here ..."
[Leicester Kyle (2000)]
A posting on my blog The Imaginary Museum to advertise the new website:
"It's five years to the day since poet, priest and ecological activist Leicester Kyle (1937-2006) died in Christchurch hospital. I doubt that he'd recognise the city of his childhood if he could see it today. That former Christchurch is now a thing of the past ...
The main purpose of this post, though, is to advertise the Leicester Kyle website which has been set up by his literary executors (David Howard and myself) to make his writings more accessible in the future - both to those already familiar with his poetry, and those who've never heard of him or it. My model was Kendrick Smithyman's online Collected Poems 1943-1995 site, edited by Margaret Edcumbe and Peter Simpson, and designed expertly by Brian Flaherty.
There are eleven books (at present) listed under the name "Leicester Kyle" in the NZ National Library database, together with another earlier prose pamphlet indexed under "L. Kyle". My present intention is to put all of these up on the website. We'll be supplementing them with another eleven or so works which are not presently available in any public collection ..."
© Leicester Kyle Literary Estate, 2012