Instructions for How to Get Ahead of Yourself While the Light Still Shines
If you have a bike, get on it at night
and go to the top of the Brooklyn Hill.
When you reach the top
start smiling — this is Happy Valley Road.
Pedal at first, then let the road take you down
into the dark as black as underground
broken by circles of yellow lowered by the street lights.
As you come up to each light
you will notice a figure
racing up behind.
Don’t be scared
this is you creeping up on yourself.
As you pass under the light
you will sail past yourself into the night.
– JENNY BORNHOLDT, from Moving House (VUP, 1989).
I thought I’d start Tui Tuesday with a poem; partly because of the Tuesday Poem group, and partly because I thought it would be a handy jumping-off point for the standard navel-gazing associated with talking about oneself.
I was born in Wellington, where this poem was both written and set; I am 23 years old and I do not own a bicycle. Well, I do, but I left it in Christchurch, with some other things. I have a BA (Hons) in English and a BSc in Philosophy (yeah, you can get those, it involves taking a lot of logic, maths, and biomedical ethics papers, and it’s totally worth it to see the looks on people’s faces). I live in Newtown. I am a recent graduate of the Whitireia New Zealand Applied Diploma in Publishing, which is a brilliant and extremely thorough course. 2011 will be the first year since I was ten that I won’t be a full-time student. I like to knit, cook, bake and sing.
I don’t really know what blog readers like to know about people who are blogging, so what you should do is, ask me a question in the comments, and I’ll answer it next week! Or you can ask me anonymously at Formspring.
This poem is probably my favourite poem of all time, although curiously I don’t have it by heart, and it’s by my favourite poet of all time, Jenny Bornholdt, who happens to come from the same city I do: Te Whanganui ā Tara, New Zealand. It was first published (in books anyway) in Moving House, which since I was two when it was published, I don’t own. However, it has justly been thoroughly anthologised, sufficiently that I believe I own it three times: in Miss New Zealand: Selected Poems (VUP, 1997); in Essential New Zealand Poems (ed. Lauris Edmond and Bill Sewell, Random House, 2001); and in Big Weather: Poems of Wellington (ed. Gregory O’Brien and Louise White, Mallinson Rendell, 2000).
These books are all still in print. You can get Miss New Zealand directly from VUP, and the rest are available from your local bookseller, from Muirs Bookshop online, or from Fishpond.co.nz. These are all wonderful books; Big Weather is Unity Books’ bestselling book about Wellington, which is ravingly unusual and completely deserved (it is a stunning book, beautifully designed and carefully created. Tremendous production values and wonderful poems) while Miss New Zealand is really ideal for anyone hoping to get into JB and includes many of my favourite poems, like “A love poem has very long sentences”, “Rodnie and her bicycles”, “Weighing up the heart”, “Tourists often stop”, “Wedding Song”, “The Man Dean Went To Photograph”. And this is all a long way of telling you one last thing about me, I suppose, which is that I’m looking out for books.