Clockwise: Lit Crawl, Ben Brown (photograph by Dean Mackenzie), Emma Barnes, Max Chapnick, Hannah Mettner, Carolyn DeCarlo.
Rejection makes you stop in your tracks. No sooner do your eyes trace over the words: I am writing to inform you… your heart sinks, your eyes well with tears, the piece of paper falls to the floor and you curl up into a little ball because rejection STINGS.
In the name of rejection, editors Emma Barnes and Pip Adam have collated an online exhibition Rejectamenta which features writing which has been rejected for publication, along with imagined and creatively written rejection letters. The works are being showcased as part of LitCrawl, a spoken word festival taking place on the 15th November in Wellington.
Sonia Sly reports.
Below are both published and unpublished poems by writers involved in Rejectamenta and Lit Crawl.
i grew up watching trees grow through my windows,
their long rings stretching
through the glass and into the house.
when a witch is created by a man she isn’t really a witch.
walk to the end of the street and keep going.
you will find yourself deep in the woods,
picking up pinecones and placing them in your basket.
when you reach the yellowed bones of the houses,
don’t be alarmed by the disease
blooming on beds and perambulators.
a cremated body cannot be resurrected.
pluck a blade of grass from the earth and unzip it at its seam.
you are in the ground now.
Ben Brown 2010
Take a look at my face,
got the right shape for the moko,
got the haughty jut to the jaw,
got an appropriate nose
for the koru bro
I got borstal stars
and a crooked cross but I
never been inside eh
They just bullshit schoolboy tats
idiot stickers cost me nothin
but a inky needle
and some discomfort
Yeah, but I wear my moko
on the inside bro,
old school chiselling in
pigment and blood cut
with an albatross bone
This line is my father's line
This line is my mother's
Here is a mountain, a river,
Here is the chanting karakia
of a young man bleeding
beneath the blade
Here is road
in the footsteps
of a warrior
Here is a path
in the broken feet
of a slave
It’s the music
The second adolescence of training my body
to use its muscles in a linked chain under
the pressure of weight and movement provides
the explosive strength of feelings for me to use
at will. I am powered by the lust of those
engaged with the process of their bodies against
other bodies. This muscle is made of sugar.
This muscle is made of iron fibres. It’s the music.
You ran across the street and I was a bouncing
atom. We have questions but no one answers
them directly. You were a teenager and I was
a teenager and it was literally one side of the city a
gainst the other. We used nostalgia like a
klein bottle. We cannot distinguish left and right
here. Dissection results in only Mobius strips.
The only way out is to never have been born.
The Adventures of Wilbert, a Toyota Vitz
Anais grew up in the south of France.
She lives in Paris. On a vineyard
on Waiheke Island, she orders Sprite.
We swim off a private beach of crushed shells.
Waves from a passing Chinese warship break
with laughter, like foaming beer.
In a rented car Anais smashes her mirror
into three other cars parked on the curb.
She has written five Camelot novels
in French. She doesn’t stop.
My children are abducted by 17th century French courtesans
In the rose garden near the big house
where somebody famous was either
born, or not, all the ladies spread their
pinks out in the sun. Pretty young ladies
with expensive, dewy faces who want
my children for their photogenic walls.
They look as though they’re picnicking
with their floral bubbles and their green
men but their stiletto fingers give them
away. And my children were just feeding
ducks, but where have they gone?! Quick
say the birds Find them Find them, gobbling
their trails of bread. The ladies strengthen
in the light and their prickles rise and my
nose is so full of their French scent that
I start to sneeze. The ladies wilt a little in
revulsion. Their corals and blushes and rouges
are falling brown, then grey; old ladies with
shallow bones and prickles blunted with
age. And where are your children they
want to know and I want to know too.
I’ve looked everywhere. There’s a low
graze of desperation in my throat, which
stings as I call their names. I uproot one
of the ladies and use her to beat back a
path through the others, until they look
almost young again in the freshness
of their bruises. When I get back to the
pond most of the spinsters have frosted
in the ground. The children are there
wearing new fur coats. One is putting logs
on a fire, while the other pulls dinner
from the snow.