Thursday, January 29, 2009

Inflight Reading

Boarding a plane with just the right reading matter is really important for me, especially if it's to be a short turbulent flight. I like to have something very interesting, preferably surprising, to read. Stories and poems work well because with choice and variety comes more chance of finding something distracting enough to take my mind off any bumpy interludes, or while landing. Most of the time I love flying, but I don't like that final approach at the end of the journey, especially if there are crosswinds - and for some reason there often seem to be crosswinds. Dunedin airport is subject to wind shear, and I just wish I didn't know that.

So I was delighted yesterday to have with me a poet I hadn't previously discovered, and whose poems I found absorbing and while I was reading, the rest of the world faded. Great! It's a gift I have that has always frustrated the people around me. Once engrossed in reading, I can be oblivious to any attempt to grab my attention. It's a useful talent to have if one is unnerved by the prospect of being caught in an unrecoverable downdraft.

The slim volume I had with me is called All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens by Tim Jones. I bought my copy at Unity Books Wellington, and it had been pre-autographed by the author who had added the exhortation "Happy reading" - that gave me a good feeling right there!

Finding a new poet I like reading is like meeting a new friend.

Here's a poem from the book, online, about a child and a parent watching the stars. I can relate to this poem, except for the child feeling the cold. My mother used to drag us out to watch cosmic phenomena (I will always be grateful that she passed on that enthusiasm to me) and as we lived in Auckland it wasn't ever freezing. But here in the far south of New Zealand - where the poem appears to be set - the best viewing conditions seem to be on the coldest nights. Even here I often brave the cold, with telescope and all, when there's something to see, so I guess I can relate to the father in the poem, who doesn't feel the cold.

With just one poem triggering such thoughts and memories, no wonder I found the book perfect for flying with. There was another wonderful poem ("Love Scene with Monks") about Buddhist monks walking in the Dunedin Botanical gardens while a couple of lovers roll on the grass. I know those gardens. I know those monks. It could have been me, rolling on the grass.

One of Jones' other books is called Extreme Weather Events but I wouldn't have been reading that on a flight scheduled to cross from a southerly airstream into a northerly front.

On Googling, I find that Tim Jones has a website and a blog.

That he has performed a community service by editing Kiwi literary magazine JAAM 26.

And that he has recently published a book of short fiction called Transported (Vintage NZ 2008) so I'll be looking out for that at the airport bookstore next time I fly.


Tim Jones said...

Finding your comments on how much you liked "All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens" was a lovely surprise - thank you, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

Hi Tim, thanks for dropping by, and thanks for writing the poems!

Stan Jones. said...

Tim is a good lad......even if he does feel the cold !!

Regards from Stan Jones (Tim's father.)

Mike Crowl said...

Transported is well worth looking out: I enjoyed it thoroughly.