Saradha Koirala


Tuesday Poem – Secret Garden

Autumnal mix
signals warning and welcome

push through the leaf window
glassless, opaque

leaving no fingerprints, no clues
to discover a place

where healing is possible
beyond the leaves of a paperback

beyond the rustle
the growth.


More Tuesday Poems here.

Tuesday Poem – As You Like it

Dad calls to tell me he’s well
and life is just a drama
from Monday to Sunday.

He says someone plays music
another dances into view
we’re all just acting
until the curtain comes down.

I don’t know if he’s ever read Shakespeare
but his metaphor, apt
on a day of walking to the beach
worrying about Grandad (pipes
and whistles in his sound)
calling each other to describe our lives.

Here, he says,
someone is in the cupboard
deciding what to wear
another has left to buy chillies.

Someone else has called his daughter
as she walks to the beach
to say everyone is well here
playing their part
and life is just a drama
until the curtain comes down.


More Tuesday Poems here

Summer Reading

Over the last few weeks I’ve managed to work my way through some of the ever-increasing pile of books by my bed. Here’s what I thought:

Stuff I’ve Been Reading, by Nick Hornby


I’ve written a full review of this for Lumiere Reader, which you can read here. This is the first book I’ve read in ages that actually had me laughing out loud. It’s like having an intelligent and amusing conversation with someone about books while they’re still pottering around living their domestic life. I imagined Hornby rabbiting on about the wide range of topics he found himself indulging in on a monthly basis while I sat at his kitchen table drinking tea and watching his family run riot about the house. The book is technically a collection of book reviews, and as interesting as the books he reads sound (the index of Stuff I’ve Been Reading makes a great list to add to the bedside pile) the circumstances under which he reads them – or neglects to – are the witty and thought-provoking moments.

The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton

73.Eleanor Catton-The LuminariesI studied Creative Writing with Ellie in 2007 and played pool with her just last week. She’s absolutely one of the most intelligent and interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to. However (or, therefore) I was quite daunted by The Luminaries and had reserved quite a lot of time and mental space to absorb it into my life. On one level it’s actually a very easy read with the details and story moving along in spiralling and satisfying motions and the plot itself really just covering a few specific but mysterious incidents. The details are incredibly thorough and the world of soggy and difficult Hokitika vivid and plausible, if a little incongruous with my Nelson summer holiday. On another level, I fear I just didn’t get it. There are so many clever devices at play here with structure and language and character that in all my simplicity I could only focus on one at a time. I did let myself trust the author – I think the best authors are those who can gain the reader’s trust quickly, as Ellie does – to take me through the details of the character’s interactions and lead me to that satisfying final image.

Incendiary, by Chris Cleave

n143968This is an older novel, from 2005 and focussing on an issue I guess I haven’t thought much about in the past year or two. Written as a letter to Osama Bin Laden from a woman who has lost her husband and young son in a stadium bombing, the naivete of the voice really humanises a situation that can so quickly become about politics and clandestine negotiations. The narrator is incredibly forgiving of all the distraught and difficult people she encounters immediately post the incident and her ‘fish fingers and track pants’ life is tragic, but only to those who encounter her. She’s a strong character with a very well-crafted voice. There are moments that are surprisingly funny, given the trauma of the situation and the events of her life rise to an implausible yet still some how heart-in-mouth final moment.

Autobiography, by Morrissey

Morrissey_Autobiography_cover“I will never be lacking if the clash of sounds collide, with refinement and logic bursting from a cone of manful blast.” says Morrissey  describing his realisation that he must make music. His writing is fantastic in his poetic style and immediacy of key moments and conversations. I love his descriptions of the clueless Morrissey and Marr signing everything they’re handed without question and being gobsmacked by the industry they find themselves in. The early part of his life is told in a tone of wonder and awe, even despite the  ruthless teachers and blatant homophobia of Manchester in the 70s. The characteristic “misery” creeps in later with a whiff of cynicism. It makes sense that Morrissey’s writing would be so engaging and he’s one of my favourite lyricists, but it’s also fascinating to learn more about his thoughts and experiences from his own point of view.

Tuesday Poem – Blood on the Tracks (redux)

I found you first in Windsor
I was burning bridges over the Thames.
You were too square for my backpack
too familiar not to own.

I remember you best in Spain
a simple twist in Barcelona
found me tangled up in bus rides
you said Meet me in the morning in Grenada.

You were my wise advice in love
my mother’s voice in Tangier
my idiot wind map flapping me off course
and buckets of rain back to England again.

After a message from my Jack of Hearts
you were shelter from the storm
telling me no-nonsense
You’re a Big Girl Now. I carried on

and every time I left a town whispered
… lonesome when you go.


This is a very old poem. I wrote it as an exercise in 2007 about my O.E in 2003. This version marks ten years since I was lost in Spain and Morocco. ‘Blood on the Tracks’ is one of my all-time favourite albums and I find comforting references to it all over the place. The book I’m now reading mentions it in paragraph one and the book I’m writing...? Well we’ll have to wait and see.

More Tuesday Poems here.

Tuesday Poem – Reach

Sunday afternoons
I migrated continents
to sit by your fire
look out to the sliver of ocean
we knew we could step across.

Our land-locked huddle
gradually loosened
weekly visits spread
to months
nomadic years.

Now looking out at the green bush of Wilton
I  s  t  r  e  t  c  h
to fill the space I’ve been given.

No longer compacted into single rooms
or forced to the footpath
a pile of native creatures struggling     for     air.

Up here the rubbish truck doesn’t come
until after the trek to work
and up here

the silence

at night

could part seas.

Tuis call their digital tune to a distant invisible shore
ask, do you remember drifting plates?
– a subtle shift –
that slow separation home?


More Tuesday Poems here

Seasonal Work

I would bike to the pear trees each morning
and stretch into their leaves, pulling out fruit.
I developed a taste for Winter Cole
Doyenne Du Comice and Taylor’s Gold.
When the pears ran out I moved on to apples.
Cox’s Orange were small in thick trees,
Granny Smiths green among gnarly branches
and Fuji, red bulbs hanging within reach.
Apples were harder than pears, resistant
and once I had shed my picking bag, I’d
head to the main road, extend a pleading thumb
and make my way back into Nelson
to paint abstractions in the garage
and read in the shade of the plum tree.

from Wit of the staircase, 2009

One of the many things I love about a poem is how it can shift under a change of circumstances. Poppy, whose pear orchard I once worked on 10 years ago, passed away on Friday. She was a dear friend to my mum, who visited her regularly throughout her long illness.

The phrases “among gnarly branches,” “harder… resistant,” “stretch…pulling…extend,” “within reach” and then the final rest beneath the “shade of the plum tree” now stand out to me in this old poem, in a way I never intended them to. The poem’s title too seems to have been steeped in poignancy. Language is magical in that way. I will remember Poppy among the pear trees, her curly black hair, her sharp wit and often surprising sense of humour. She will be missed.

Tuesday Poem – Writing Night

The city I love at night and miss
all week as I work up the line
in a classroom at the edge
of development

reveals a stranded few who
I can’t help with leaking pen
stray thoughts unmorphed awaiting
the tatty notebook
tucked under my arm.

Tall and tough but out of luck
out of gas with kids in the car
she’s fleeing something
I’ve got nothing to give
redden to be so unprepared.

Or, here, sobbing into shopping bag
gym bag or running-away-from-it-all bag.
I stop and stoop to offer, well nothing
I guess, nothing here to dab at red eyes
empty notebook, dangling thoughts
and ink-stained finger tips.

This is not my reality or the stuff of poetry.
This city I miss
as I work up the line
this city leaves us empty and dry.


Read more Tuesday Poems here


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