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Sunday, December 27, 2009


perhaps such eyes

Perhaps such eyes, as, the stark skull might hope might en Be itself, suppose it lived.

It is the word, the phrase, the sudden flame of the clause, is my starting forth:
no idea or desire have I of completing any linear completeness,
demonstration, exegesis, proof, or subtle analogue.
The beach – shells and wave song.

To have eyes.

Knowledge is incompleteness.

For example: an inventory, a cost analysis,
the calculus of turning moments –
all these things set against fiscal expansion, torsion, tension, tensile, talons – shear forces….

Be wary of the leopard – its spots I mean, rarely. Rare steak and stakes, they are raised. Cleverness, deviousness, these keep the yo yo up,
or moving.

Illusion of everlasting life.


The Universe fucks itself.)

Something no bastard expected.

The red - swelling head moves closer – who are you? –

(I have lingered in my chamber.

Time. Eyes indeed –

the Immense Light in Child.


Friday, October 30, 2009



Room 57 exp z




















Zabragg::::::::: undo 23mno onp = goolach meeno

Qulifagi @ ==@ sanca;;;; 9d os PartiKa

Iytcgee -5 worrraamooglefiittyy >>><<<>

Oooo|ooopu ik gafaya 3 Gweeta blauorye|||||||

fg Gatt zeeppl{}++=== Ggogg wouse (*098z] tarag0rt Yuagoohjj

forog im ^ fortafffagg ## [Kcruncah pol, 252 meei ….

Iasta-menta? Ssss ? mo 6a Polla dumsaaafsf Faaglo -

Greedheeeeads //////Januckl acnaha//// =========pragggo ik ++

Katagaggggg!!!!! % Xitttafundaaaaa!!!

















<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


Monday, October 12, 2009

Room 55,555

cold moving coldness / cacophony of quivers (circles) or sparks in dark

and oxymoronic vision of flowing ice in sparkle / transilluminates dark supple silence

when the chuncks again as he edged until crevasses plunged / the viol stroke not so bad as Winter plays in bone leaves and bone speech and the spectre of sand / vast ones without cause except the creeping of old force the steps are heard and who and the cause of cold coagulant / until there is a new kind of death sprung out of coal and basalt of every sparkle shivering / and something there / the cruel creaking cold in the masses of the thinking things

and the things thinking coldly examine the cold light of the existence of their possibleness who somehow in fury became

and the thought of things thinking set up new movements until firelight brush dead to hand

the hand from cold caresses the nothing if not thought the illuminating stipple as ideas enter

beginning a bird enters dives in bullet drop to the sea seeking fish and things thinking or being thought revolve in concept

the number is studied and the massive mind meanders as huge light brings fresh thoughts of flowers and ever new ideas bud

and again the thoughts of breath are cold in a warm new explosion as if thinking was

when thought pierces the spires of inversions in the chromatic fantasia where fish are said to reign in sea of green sex death

again death ugly head rears and the patient horse is there awaiting oats of kindness inside a thinking mass of gorgeously embellished flame

for the deadness of the horse is famous is the living brain of a golden rain out beyond clatter or the coldness of cold where clack

because you also reach to caress the ice mountains and the thoughtful head as it grows as huge as death of life and the sea roars like a wand

and indeed a new kind of clack clack is heard in the block land where even Eros froze the hand extended in mock forgive all this light useless the eternal wound and smoothly writhes

the gash of truth is the beginning of armies whose death is blue red and gold glory for where are we is the question stamped on the imperious report

the question raised is mocked by the King of Trees or Corn and all now dance unrigidly in giddy light of lust whose ancient times were as merry as young women on a boat and there is a great mercy

for it drops as gentle as the soft rain to engender the thirsty roots whose new quick is now the thinking thinking thing whose fire is the crack of the sun

the sun lunatic polarizes the clown of the puppet moon as all things begin to dance as if Saint Saens in macabre scenes when erotic boys to erotic girls do press

when the quickness of lust is lost in microwave hush as a pulse rebuilds the blue blocks of ice who bend with black the tongue of song

whose voice by tongue is lizard long in ancient songs where hermits thrash

more secret than exit stone

and stone recalls the cold and the fingers, stretched, of their duty to the gold and the light, and the cold moving thinking things erupt again

for thinking is thinking and no height can be more than wall for the roar of time is vast and consumes the smallest sip of love

for love is not cold as blocks yet hate has power as spears are seen to rise

nor do the molecules disturb the black machine who in steel is alive when huge the claw

for who is that shape that sea of sky and when do the gongs resound?

and sand and gobs and endless the hours and gold the seas illuminate

and, and …. the fire …. the thinking fire leaps again in the aeronautic night… and no one is yet or pyro … or emerge

for colours explode inside the howling head, whose single eye is mad with time


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Room y = e to the x, cosh a

And every version seemed to me, peering over and into the austere glass and bossy case, of an equal, or similar merit, or wondrousness. Further: it was the totality as I felt this experience of reading and interpreting, and not understanding, was, for me. Later I realised that there was again here an example of constant process as 'poem' - and my encounter with it was part of an ongoing experience of a work - a work that for me in its endlessess
and its non beginning.
Later in
- at least in our minds - separate things out.
The stories I recalled most vividly were ones that involved near death, or were of a romantic nature, or were distressing, erotic, or joyful - the "ordinary" totality of existence of course is mostly forgotten by the mind and we see things in separate "blocks" but we are amid an ongoing roar of process.. molecular and existential boil of Being and causation and the burning torment of matter and the
agonised and joyful convulsions of life lived in
(albeit quantum
mechanical and multi vectorial) space
.......................the squirting joy of the act
! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
A similar thing occurred for me when I once came across a book on how to write poetry by Michael Harlow and Ill Aanhire - these included some excellent creative writing exercises. Indeed I have probably used some of the ideas in that book in EYELIGHT and in some of my previous writings. But again my main interest was in Harlow's demonstration of the evolution of poem he had written. Again with many versions, "crossings out", changes, circlings, mysterious marks, squiggles, corrections - indeed, many 'Visions and revisions'.... all in arlow's emonstration of the evolution of his Oem.
But for me his poem began with the beginning of the Universe or the Multiverse - if it (they) has / have a beginning...
ere i ( are) a (ome), image(s) o the oem [ in ocess o evelopment] as it ere] an e (some o) accmpanying ext:


The "process"continued(or continues) until Harlow (and he goes through all this with the potential writer who is learning or interested in this procedure) (perhaps of many but typical of writers and their methods) has or had or may have had could have or did have the"perfect poem"; that he then sent off ) (
perhaps) to a p
ublisher (or he may have k
ept it in drawer or his back trouser pocket for some time: until showing, indeed revealing, it here in this "how to" book) and it was now ready to be p
ublished - and was [or is or
,nay fascinates, m

the leopards are strewn about the desert in a lazy terror

that only White can convey

the leopards are strewn about the desert in a lazy terror

So I "get angry"with it all!!

The finished poem as poem is good - really good. Harlow is a major poet in NZ - one of my favourite - but I am not interested just now in the poem's meaning (meaning is problematic in any case) interested here in the look of the totality of his work as worked through and I then transform it - as things constantly do in life - in fact I went "berserk" with it almost in trance or a fever, a kind of "creative rage" perhaps: creating a new "poem" or text as in the following image-poem-text-enactment: an implication of an infinite and progressive or degressive process ... I got very angry with it:

When he arrives
on his lips a small tattoo
The plumes of his pocket

almost a wonder

has signed

something else - buff -coloured signs are taken for wonders....

the leopards are strewn about the desert in a lazy terror

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Room 4.12 exp 4

foreward backward then here come the march of distribution, startle. the eagle stare. then went the reverse to space whence unsteel. of course you the stars. then if a bloom, nothing is not not something, yet a sheer. whereby enormous. once there was as steps. up upon the up.

we don’t do do. as agrarian. i indeed igloo yet yellow to unheard the extent. not facing. not impending. and distributed, could shatter to unstick the sprig because wire desire. enough. Ich habe Genug ein cochin. water. satrebach. blue is you. something. something and a

cluster how a), because, or b), because. thus if thus. we wern’t trunks. death. Mrs Walker walked. until a star surreal or if and dangle until snow. there were many Mrs Smile. yet, back there, its not the hand. a passes across; if what who when i. pigs squeal then glory. i wouldn’t wont do. but the butter. if doubt then to condition the champ. singular. When mesons then gin. i, mightily, into the mouth. mess. pig by salient until, it wants to be singular. desperation by ballot, it declined to decline, sun. soared up to sacrifice, one metre to one matchbox. six by six by six say. intransigent, implosion pan sudden to spider to black. you, too, have three heads.

everything is so quietly remarkable.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Friday, September 04, 2009

Room 4.1 exp 3

Across the road in Panmure - Light.

The image. The power or indifference of the image.

The first school I went to - I ran away on the first day! I thought my mother would stay with me at school! It took months for them to get me to stay at school. But I eventually did, and I learnt a lot. ... Tamaki Primary.

Cottonwood (U.S. tree) in the grounds of my first school Tamaki Primary. There I learnt to read, write, and I learnt the magic of numbers coming together in patterns.

Everything gets stranger than a tree

(Grey Lynn shop in a state of convulsion...))))

The shadows - the shadows dance. No they don't. Shadows dont dance. The shadows. The shadows. The lines showing shadows. Shadowy shadows. The lines of what could be trees or grey veins. Shadow veins. Grey or gray. The insistent persistence. The after image. SEM = slow eye movement. Dreamless in shade land. Very shady!
The pub at the University of Auckland is called Shadows. Mum's cat was called Shadow. She was ferocious hunter and roamed widely. This is a message that isn't a message - read it by not reading it. Let it be a shadow. Or shadows. If "Willows willow" (Michelle Leggott) then "Shadows shadow." So there!

My art. Art? I can do art!

Sebastian and Tam - Mother and Son.

Grandson and daughter - Tam recently passed her MA in Psychology with top marks - an A.
She is with"Teddy Bear" Ed Cake - who has a great space on MySpace - he has somewhat of a cult following in the NZ music world.

Dionne is doing well and works in a library. Victor and I talk a lot - he is just now ill but seems to be o.k. so far. Seems just a bad cold.

The reason for life is life?

This was taken, about a year or so ago, at the home of the son of the, sadly recently deceased, poet Alistair Campbell. I talked with his son, a very nice young man. This inspired me to buy a copy of his latest book.

Night - everything is more mysterious and perhaps more frightening at night.

People shopping, living, struggling with reality as here in my local shopping centre of Panmre. Tony also lived in a working class suburb. Note the diamond patterns...

Local graffiti "art" in Panmure - each individual seeks to leave their "mark".

....................................................TONY FOLARI





.........................................................................WHERE TO NOW?


I am experimenting with ways of posting and so on. Also, the previous post was part of my poem The Red - previously posted with the large fonts - the total effect of which I cant predict -in fact I was surprised (and pleased) by it. Since then in fat I have an upgraded computer and a different screen.

But I still have little knowledge of ways to manipulate texts and images or fonts on sites etc! Just a kind of "bush cunning"....

I am still not able to take a "composition" on say, WORD, and then load it up on to this blog site.

I haven't studied HTML at all - mainly from laziness I must confess. But I know that all the
"how to info" is all out there!

I like the rawness of the unembellished Blog I have here, and by the way, I don't see 'blackness' as something negative. When I published a "huge blankness" as a Blog post on here, I did it in the vague hope that no one else had - of course I am well aware that books with nothing in them hav been published (and much else has been tried!) and so on; e.g via the book, The Book of Nothing by John Barrow, a fascinating book for "the layman" about maths, cosmolony, and so on where it is shown how by dealing with the NULL set - let's say that is zero - in fact something can be generated. But I or Barrow I am sure don't claim to have solved Russell or Whitehead's problems or Wittgenstein's additions!) (And of course we have touched on Godel! .... in my case even the questions raised themselves are too difficult (for me in any case) to "get a handle on" as they say....BUT what is interesting is, as emphasised in Barrow's book, the complex reactions there have been to the idea of zero and nothingness over time - it seems that in general the Western religions or philosophies resisted zero as a number or even an idea for many centuries while the Indian or Arabian and other Eastern peoples more readily accepted zero. Also the use of zero in our decimal system is now known by us to be essential. But interesting is the interaction of religion, philosophy and many other 'disciplines'.........

....BTW I am just typing this straight on here I really don't know what I am about to say next as I do so.....I have no plan you? minute to minute? .... eh?! ...hmmm!!! eh?! Taylor, what's the ablative of (Latin word and a phrase, some trick involved...) ... I can hear old Watson's voice, I recall his old car chugging in to Tamaki College ... the fascinating Latin lessons...Graham Tatana, Les Clarke....(where's he gone - rumour is he "dropped out"... he was in the Labour Party once and had a degree in Economics...old Les...lived in GI...I tried to get him to become a Communist in the 70s... crazy days (I 'm getting old (61, a lot of people die in their 60s, a lot of people die...) ... ] but as I wrote somewhere else

............................. But I loved the darkness

This not negative. This posit.. This me honest. These days silence itself has deep attraction - not Buddhism - no isms for me. Just the idea of it.

And zero is connected to infinity - another "number" or idea, debated for centuries...related to zero as if you simply do this



................................................ 0

(Five - or any number except infinity - divided by zero)

You have

.................................... Infinity

Or, on calculator (none when I was a boy , slide rules for us, but log tables first)


--------------------- ERROR


Fascinated Tony Folari, poet and humourist, who, tragically; committed suicide on the 17th of August this year. A double tragedy for his family, as his brother, a hightly talented artist, also committed suicide some eyasr previously. Tony had many conversations with me over the years...he was deeply disturbed and passionate about words,writing,art, cosmology, and numbers - he once said that the number 3 was stronger than the number 4, and once, that there were praying mantices all over his jacket, and was quite angry that Praying mantises should be on his Jacket

"Why do the bloody things place themselves all over my jacket, and why is it that when I go on the bus or for walk people everywhere (my old so-called mates in many cases) run along side jeering and at me..?!"

In both cases I simply averred that..."These things happen."

Tragi-comic as this is, I liked Tony, who was part Italian, and had done pretty well in commercial art, worked as a house a painter and renovator but never seemed to settle, movng around from place to place. He was obsessed with words and language in way that could have meant he, unlike so many NZ writers, seeking a "common voice" or accessibility, or wanting to write about how their girlfriend or boy friend bit their left ear, or they couldn't get money, or they failed to orgasm, or whatever, or some sad moan about politics, or some dull "realist" or personal to confessionalist dilemma or event (unfortunately over popularised by such as Lowell, Berryman, Sexton, as Plath with her ridiculous and selfish suicide - o.k all these were tragic cases of the demise of highly talented writers, but it is the way these events have been exaggerated by the press and literary vultures, and slobbered over by feminists and homosexuals etc etc and others that have seemed to glorify this cult of the confessional which extends to dubious writers such as Bukowski) ...........

....what interested me about Tony was his absolute fascination with language as almost a thing in itself. Something rarely seen in NZ poetry - where still to this day - with (fortunately more than a few exceptions) - there seems to reign - a terrible plague of dullness (such as might requireth another Dunciad!) - but this turn toward language [this is also a major target, of course, of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E movement (influenced by postmodern philosophy and European poetry) which still has a powerful influence, and indeed has influenced me, although I am not a paid up Langpo) - perhaps we see it, or saw it in Spear's writing and some of that of Leggott's - certainly much is in the work of Jen Crawford (although she mentioned the British poet Roy Fisher to me the other day - he like Raworth etc is very interesting and twists and remakes language ), and "dance of language is cunningly concealed in the work of Jack Ross (who is very deceptive, if not a Langpo, well, hmm... his "realism" is a front - but he is onto some great stuff) ... and Smithyman and Curnow mixed their 'reality' and craft with dosages language intensity - and in fact all good writers are language obsessed or 'centred' to some degree, as language is a writer's main tool ... but too many veer away from this focused intensity and depth to a tired realist-conversational tone...

Tony, however had read of the Oulipo group and would spend weeks (or even months) on one poem. (Often Curnow would write only 8 or fewer poems a year. Such was his huge dedication to his craft.) Perec had written an entire novel without the letter 'e' which he called "Avoid" - this fascinated Tony and he read about the Oulipos (who have also influenced such as the late Italo Calvino and that great (and fortunately current!) Kiwi poetic magician Richard von Sturmer); and in a recent Poetry Slam at poetry Live Tony had three poems he had worked on for months - they were, he felt perfect. He was bound to win -no matter how he read them or who the audience was, by their sheer unearthly power: the force of the combinations of letters and sounds, the essential wizardry of his great gestalt

The problem was the abstraction. This drive for symbolic resonance or deep intensity of a near mystical kind has the defect that, we all need, at some point, to relate at a human level. Some of his poems in his books worked. I suggested to Tony that perhaps he should vary his style (or limit the number of his poems per book) as the poems with all the vowels or all the consonants as say 'i' or 'g' - so many poems with internal rhymes and mesmeric rhthyms, like the work of Christian Blok, who he admired, but whose work I find somehow tedious; that the accumulation of the sound and ryhme and repetition was ultimately counter productive. It was, or could be, like a telvision advertising jingle. At their best though - and taken individually - some of his poems were quite extraordinary. But not, perhaps, as I see it, great (however one defines that elusive quality - I may be wrong) : as there needs - beyond this abstract mystical essential force, to always be the pressure, if not the obvious presence, or evidence, or delineation, of some deep, human, and universal emotion or need. The emotion was there, but it was wierldy side-winded into word patterns and what seemed almost like mantras or magic spells. And poetry needs magic..but not all magic. But his project such as he attempted it - and he worked deeply and sincerely - his art - was in it's philosophy, direction and intention, was admirable, as was that of his brother's. He was, however, too tormented by deep ontological or epistemological questions or emotions (in his own self) . I say too tormented. But can we be so? Some would argue that these questions are THE issues of life. Others, simply, live.

I had started to write about how my Blog has changed direction somewhat and that my method now - was, at least for now, to continue to write as when I felt, rather than to any preconceived idea. My ideas about this, in fact all my ideas! - keep changing - so to keep to a structure as such may be superfluous. However I might revert to some more formal structure.

The structure will be whatever is haphazardly or luckily weaved....

Room 4 x 1o exp3

The Red

The blocks of red on red on red by black around

by black by black by line by line by round. The

red in red of red in red where black by back the

white around. Around the bound about the

white the red more red comes up the red. It

rears its head. The eye the see the sight to see.

The eye the see the light the sight.

And light,

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Room 34443.01

it would be a mistake not to rise early to break fast and to walk within the city or in the great Earth to go forth into the sounds the huge day and the curses and the voices and the clouds and the women and the men of all ilk or being; to rise and go; and maybe first the fried liver the bran the oat the milk the nuts the tea the coffee the aqua; and to set out like a small god or a thing; anything huge or small; anything of dirt or light or being, any possibility; it, not to go, a terrible waste of the sky and the lungs and the light and the motor cars, the gardens, and the old man by the bus stop or the cat the fly the air the your the you of me or the lungs the heart the legs; to go and not to miss; for there is the no final Yes infinite in meaning or sound or the wind and the sweet girl sweet flower sweet songs; and the harsh menace the secret and the rocks to avoid; but it would be error to lie abed silly head for the brain is your brain and it is your hand, for the Now shall hold it in clasp and the menace of eyes / the yes of eyes / and the no of eyes / and the No of those who fear or who do not fear to embrace the tumult of the shout and the words and the works the days; it would be wicked to lie or yet to die for we and me and your and you could venture the bran the honey the bitter death the blood the sirens the sure soft sucks the dangerous scents; and the all bright ambiguous yield of the queer beginning of sound and the perfect imperfection of day and eye the pain; the crave the hunger the swirl and the great sea the child the things the road and it all; stepping out in the city or the world the dark dust the what is next; for out of the enigma of ending and the surety of starting out and the manifest of cessation of the uncertain step as the egg holds vital the Nothing where things begin or die; but the dappling splashing light is now russet now green and now it is a cascade of man-killing ice and now the fire spreads beyond anything your mind could imagine or your ear could hear; or the clack of stones and the miasmic mesmer of the especial silence; and colours imply the plunge into the sea or the tramp of mighty boots or the quiet scratching of a match to start or stop; and yet we breathe we breathe we breathe in all tortures of joy – for there is no truth whose lie we cannot ache for in our huge aloneness; and the girl and the man or the woman or the child or any being or thing that is or imagines or images or is the dust of the potential ghost or the sign or the song or the music of create who would search; endless endless the stopping start who it wakes us and it lurches and they sup in expectation of the thing shall come; a fire in any being’s eye; the eye of all things the beating things or the soft thud in the dull sad hope as rouge and grass and the things moving always and always but never still as the grey light and the whiteness spreads and the white and the breast the muscle the stare the dog the limping man and the dripping tap the beat the great gush and the storm begin the sad wind and the huge joy of the child the heavy boot the thud the grief and the wing and the sting of song and the strange of truth and the knot and the seed in soil; the minute and the uncountable the stars the milk the flow beyond all moons the Cow of knowing the ignorance in the great library of towers where the nodding smile is a book on a beach of dreams is the truck and the blood of the what of all things are beyond all arks or shelves and the sea and the songs and the many musicks and the capering antics of ancient Man…

…. and the eternal lust of Woman and the power the power the power and the all generative regenerative mighty Deathlife ka’ora of the Two

Thursday, July 30, 2009




".....To which you are invited. To which you are invited. To which you are invited. I say this in triplicate, being a good bureaucrat: the enemy of all poets. Ah! Such is life. Anyway, I bid you
adieu, and trust you have a very merry morn, etc etc. Que serra! Bye!”

There were hundreds at the Grey Lynn Library, for the dead man, most recently a book seller but previously a highly successful and very renowned film critic who had the audience of such as Scorcese and many others such as Jane Fonda (of whom “Oh blast, I’ve lost Jane Fonda’s phone number from my wallet”!), but who also campaigned throughout the world against Apartheid and war as she did, and who was very well known to Labour Party people such as Phil Goff, Mike Rann, Mike Moore (the ex-Prime Minister of NZ); and others both of such exalted and of “lower” rank, who spoke at the funeral. Brendon Maher, and Viggo Monrad were others who spoke strongly, or angrily but passionately and interestingly, about the deceased. There were hundreds. I saw many booksellers, a number of writers (such as Bob Orr, Jen Crawford, Michael Steven, Colin Munn, and John Bentley, who were - at least - four I knew), many locals of Grey Lynn how had attended his book “soirees” held often of a Friday evening.

Of the the booksellers / collectors, I saw Brian who had the Moa Hunter Book Shop in Ponsonby Road until fairly recently. (Brian confessed to liking books of poetry later in the evening). It was tothat shop atht Brent repaired, to find how to organise and run a book shop. I also saw Rowan and Brendan Waters.

My daughter Tamasin and Gerhard Lotermoser who met at one of these evenings went on to produce my grandson before separating (in reasonably civilized manner, or as much as such separations can be “good” or even positive in some cases). So my grandson was also there. (Interviewed later, at the Polish Club where the “eats” were held, he confided and concurred with me from his 7 years’ wisdom, solemnly putting lollies into his mouth, that it had indeed been a “good funeral”). And it was, the service was not overly preachy as more conventional Christian or other funerals can be, and while it was about the death of a well and very popular and much loved man, a bookseller and an ex-journalist, musician and film expert: it was interesting and even "uplifting" by the very lack of dubious appeals to scary and vague ideals such as "eternal life", resurrection, and so on. It was dignified, but far from solemn or tedious.

And there, also, was I, one of “God’s spies”, and my son Victor, another; and my ex wife Mary Manoah, of course, who helped with the catering. Her friend and general poet Daniel Harrison (who read an excellent and moving account / poem (with music by and organized by Gerhard) of a trip taken by Brent Lewis, for that was the dead man’s name, and his latter days.
Phil Goff (who had known him since his University days where Brent’s passion had been film and politics, and was still a very close friend) and others such as his friend Viggo Monrad who and known him in squats in London where he notoriously flooded his apartment, both gave very funny and moving accounts of his life and in particular, that despite his great ability to write about film, of which subject his knowledge was huge, and take part in political activism, he was enormously unpractical and sometimes very absentminded in his daily affairs. A great laugh was raised when it was revealed by Goff that, after Brent had lost his passport, rather a useful object to have for syndicated and globe trotting journo, (albeit a rather Pickwickian or at the very least, a Dickensian, one); for the eighth time!!; the Department of Internal Affairs contacted him as number two to Helen Clark, concerned about this Brent Lewis character…wondering what his game was!! Alas the explanation was known to anyone who loved and knew Brent, as I, and my friend Greg Brimblecombe did. For Brent was Brent. Loved? Perhaps “loved” is too strong a word. I felt a lot for him, had a number of conversations and interactions (about books etc) but I didn’t know him closely.

My love was not of a deeply personal or emotional kind, but I feel still a sad sense of loss when I think of him . His abrupt passing was a shock to me, as it was to many. He was greatly liked. And I liked him, and in his insidious way, he had "grown"on me . For Brent, love him or not, was undeniable. But their were some who took advantage of his generosity with money or his tendency to evade certain of the realities of life. Or rather, he let them do so.

Of course he was not faultless, and his own demise, the method of it, might be seen by some as "self-centred", or even indulgent. An indulgent death! And we all say or think things like that when someone suddenly departs this sphere. So some were at first a bit angered, annoyed, or infuriated, at hearing of his death, and it's manner.

Certainly Brent was and could be infuriating, despite his kindness, gentleness and wit. (Many also talked of his courage and his good-natured welcoming attitude in the shop, which made them feel "at home"). But exasperating he could be. He phoned me about 20 times asking for the phone number of a mutual friend. I happened to know it easily as it was one of those very easy numbers to memorize! And I suggested, tentatively, that Brent take the extreme, and undoubtedly radical, measure for him, of purchasing an address book! But his conversations were amusing. Here is him urging (on a telephone message me to come to one of his “gatherings” (It went):


Sir Richard! [this humoresque mock reverential address arose from the time Ron Riddell poet and owner of the Dead Poet’s Book Store had myself, Harry Cording etc “knighted” by Anne Jones], are you in the land of the living? If so, I’m glad to hear it (!). I trust you’re ready for the great do on Saturday. Now I just have happened to have found or acquired, a book of poetry, inscribed to you: Valparaiso by the Bob Orr, inscribed very personally to you, inscribed indeed with an inscription which will please you very much, I can read said inscription in the morning, or tomorrow sometime, if you care to ring me at Nostromo [Brent’s book shop in Grey Lynn] ; or you can keep it for your very own special treat for Saturday night, when, you remember there is fabulous Nostromo party. To which you are invited. To which you are invited. To which you are invited. I say this in triplicate, being a good bureaucrat: the enemy of all poets. Ah! Such is life. Anyway, I bid you adieu, and trust you have a very merry morn, etc etc. Que serra! Bye!”

Such a gem of a message was typical of Brent in a good mood. Of course his tone was mock-serious and deliberately “overdone”.

But he was not always so talkative or in such high spirits. He had inherited cash and property in Otahuhu, and had been an exceptionally successful journalist, syndicated and indeed often even asked for by famous film makers, stars, writers, and others. He wrote beautifully and insightfully about film. One of his first interviews it was said, was with Betty Davis. He had books inscribed by Joseph Heller, Saul Bellow, and others. He told me of his encounters with two of my favourite comedians, Dudley Moore (in the U.S.) and Peter Cook (in England) He was ‘attacked’ once (verbally) by de Niro.

Brent's passion was movies. Poster and scenes from a famous film. He once reviewed a biography of
Marlin Brando.

…. The frisson and magic of film and Americana was his world. But he felt and acted strongly on many issues of justice and civil rights. The Holocaust, Apartheid, the Vietnam War were some of the issues he attacked or addressed. He was tireless in this sense. He assisted Labour Party politics until a few days before his death. Through the Labour Party, he pushed for better rights and the good recognition of Maoritanga at a time it wasn’t fashionable to do so. While he was no fool, or naïf, he perhaps lacked the edge, or at least the organisation, to engage in the real war of parliamentary debate and the personal viciousness often encountered in that particular combat zone.
One New Year’s eve, he surprised me by sitting at the piano, and playing quite beautifully, but he seemed shy. He had talent as a musician and had been, and was, a very good singer. The more recent photo below (with the green jacket and a drink) shows him rather edgy, it was taken a year ago. Earlier photos at the “funeral” showed him as happy and a very good-looking young man, setting out on his road to a life of adventure. He had very little guile. A “protest” against his shop in Grey Lynn and other pressures, and disappointments, and perhaps an inability to deal with certain “big issues” (Viggo Monrad was, because very sad, quite angry about this side of Brent) lead to breakdown in about 2006 and a general decline in his interest in the book trade and in fact in life. It was said he was "running on empty" by Viggo. I had urged him to write the story of his own life in film (or to even write a novel, or to return to journalism) and as journalist - for he had traversed the globe and had written (often beautifully, always insightfully) about so many films and had seen so many famous people he had met. And these famous "stars" would seek Brent out in many cases. He had charm and a facility in converse with such people. And he was likable, concerned and kindly to anyone. (He was never a "star struck snob"). Nor was he a fool. Given the faults that plague us all - he was a good and a likable man.

Brent in better times.

This “failure”, his inability to settle on a new venture, or tackle those who took advantage of his generosity, his disappointments in love, and his loneliness, and other darker, and perhaps unknowable, and inexpressible, depths of the blackness of his moods, and finally his desperation, led him, on the night of Friday the 12th of June, to leap from a six story building in Symonds Street (Auckland) to an almost histrionic, yet very real, death; as John Berryman and Paul Celan leapt off bridges and into rivers, and to their respective deaths in the U.S. and France.

John Berryman, who is picture below, and a poet I greatly admire, was an alcoholic most of his life having witnessed as boy his father’s death by a handgun. Paul Celan, who was Jewish and also a great poet, was tormented by the effects of his parents’ death at the hands of the Nazis.

Brent, who was also Jewish, but not primarily interested in poetry, took us all once to film based on events in Nazi Germany. This is distant connection of course. Suicide happens everywhere and in all classes. Why does it occur? A major reason according to one study I read is simply financial depletion. It beats love. Or it did in that study. No one knows. Virginia Woolf, of whom every one is either afraid, or in awe: and who'se husband was Jewish – committed suicide by walking into river and drowning as, as well as a mind attack which prevented her from writing or reading; the terrible Nazis were gaining full control of Europe. Not only was she chronically tormented, but she and her husband knew that Hitler had terrible plans for such as them and many others if England were to fall. And yet, even in years when her “madness” was most intense, she worked with enormous productivity on novels, journal articles, her diary and more. Woolf, in her great novel “Mrs Dalloway” (certainly very influenced by Joyce, but in some ways in my view it surpasses ‘Ulysses’ which she read, and, outwardly, at least, let herself be “shocked” or disgusted by it): confronts madness, and the book climaxes with the suicide of a “main character” and thus she deals with the agony of a man or anyone disintegrating mentally under the horror of an internal psychological malaise, which is perhaps the more terrible or powerful; as we know that Woolf was, like Sylvia Plath, quite tragically afflicted in this way by depression, suicidal actions and thoughts and deep mental suffering. Perhaps too it more intensely confronts deep issues of psychological suffering caused by war and isolation and other causes that Joyce evades, as indeed he evaded, to some degree, truths of Ireland’s conflicts and tragedies and that of the First World War.
Not entirely though, and of course these writers are very different, in fact both, with their deep insights and powerful abilities with language, may have been capable of delving into the mind of someone such as Brent.

The understanding and potential elucidation of such a life and death as Brent's, would require the satire and complexity of a Joyce and the depth and compassion of a Woolf (!).

Berryman, who was a chronic alcoholic, somewhat offset or combated his nightmares by writing his brilliant poetic series Dream Songs. Through these, it has been argued,the very fragmentation of self or selves was in a deep way actually therapeutic, but also a way of creating a profound, oscillating music, of his mind and heart.

Why have I connected these three people? Brent would be interested, but his main passion was film. Film and not plays, and not much of poetry. (But he did appreciate good writing and also poetry). Yet he was concerned for human justice and that implies a concern for human happiness. He was deeply sensitive. He was also, when he was not vastly impractical, quite urbane in his own way.
Perhaps a deeper concern for these “great” examples such as Woolf and Berryman might help us to speculate on the horror and suffering he experienced in his last days as he searched for contact, for a place to live, and perhaps for love: and finally threw himself to his death.

Also, of course, I had the pictures on my files. The sight of these connected me by association to Brent and his life and death.

Brent Lewis as I saw him about a year before his death. He could be infuriating. Here he looks edgy.

John Berryman. U.S. poet. An alcoholic (Brent had mainly overcome his drink problems when he died). Berryman, one of perhaps the world's greatest poets was haunted by the nightmare of seeing his own father kill himself by a hand gun. His poetry was superb. He fought his own darknesses with humour, love, and lyricism. He jumped from a bridge as did Paul Celan another victim of the Holocaust. Brent threw himself also to the earth but not into water - rather to the ground off Symonds Street in Auckland. Those who found him say he looked peaceful in death. Brent's great passion was film not poetry. Also it was Americana and he had an interest in the Holocaust (and many other deep human problems) as did Berryman. Susan Sontag considered the Nazi Horror to be the problem or issue of the 20th Century. It's monstrous crime still haunts us. There is a tragi-comic aspect to this drama. As in that famous "revenger" play - Hamlet. One tries and fails to visualise Brent sailing (or is that "plummeting"?) through the air to his demise in a kind of mythic Icarian action.



My "angle"on Virginia Woolf ... shows her face on the cover of my huge biography of her (written by Hermione Lee). My copy of Richard Ellmann's great biography of James Joyce, who influenced her "inner" style, but whose "Ulysses" she was rather dubious, or 'disapproving,' of; I obtained from Brent's shop.

Picture of a Nazi Death Camp

Brent focused a lot on the Holocaust, perhaps as he was part Jewish.
This also is part of the "horror" Woolf may have feared, one extra reason perhaps, that lead to her tragic suicide.


Perhaps a deeper concern for these “great” examples such as Woolf and Berryman might help us to speculate on the horror and suffering he experienced in his last days as he searched for contact, for a place to live, and perhaps for love: and finally threw himself to his death.

Also, of course, I had the pictures on my files. The sight of these connected me by association to Brent and his life and death.

Brent Lewis as a child, and a young man setting out with excitement and hope, on life's great adventure.

But mostly, in my memory, and in pictures I have here taken of him (he is invariably smiling), he was quite happy, especially when he began his enterprise of opening the Nostromo bookshop. He became an almost legendary figure in Grey Lynn society, talking with musicians, book dealers, collectors, readers of various kinds, artists, workers of various kinds, politicos, poets, “cadgers” and the dispossessed from the streets who he invariably leant money to: or to such as Peter Williams QC, the passionate lawyer who defended Arthur Allen Thomas and many others, and loved to visit Brent’s shop. Many others also, including his friends Greg Brimblecombe (poet and book seller); and the passionate collector of Russian books Greg Linton (brother of the cartoonist and artist Barry). And Brent and the Gregs restlessly scoured book fairs and many places to acquire his stock of books.

It made me think of suicide and suffering, of waste, but also it reminded me of the courage that people of sensitivity can summon. Their suicides may anger or sadden us. And “they” include people from all walks of life whether they write or create “high art” or, like most of us who are “ordinary”, and live variously our various lives, perhaps of “quiet desperation” or of high passion, joy and or despair. We speculate on the mystery of each being’s experience. And we wonder, but we cannot know.

Bookseller Brent in the "heyday" of his Nostromo Books days.

The "party" at the Polish Club ended with eats and drinks and Mike Moore organised a sing along about the famous trade uninionist and activist Joe Hill who was, probably quite wrongly, shot for murder in a very right wing U.S. (the other side of Brent's American dream) ... Colin Munn in his "motley", stood by the besuited, "Red Fed Marxists" singing. And it was good, if a little incongruous, as I said to (a rather tipsy) Moore. (But his political experience stood him in good stead versus my sobriety and chastening comments: as he rightly ignored my query as to his 'alliegence' to the working class). But the song was relevant. Brent had been an activist, and he really cared for people. And it said something of the alliegences of Brent and, let's allow - the idealism of his friends in the Labour Party. For idealism and hope everywhere.


An image of beauty for Brent Lewis - Requiescat in pacem, Brent meum amicum.