new zealand electronic poetry centre


Tapa Notebooks


Lisa Samuels teaches at the University of Auckland. She has lived in various parts of the United States, as well as in Sweden, Israel / Palestine, Yemen, Malaysia, and now New Zealand / Aotearoa, and is interested in transculturalism, especially as embodied in language and the digitas. Some recent poetry books include Tomorrowland (Shearsman, 2009), Throe (Oystercatcher, 2009) and Mama Mortality Corridos (Holloway, 2010). Gender City (poetry) is just out from Shearsman Books and Chax Press will publish her creative non-fiction book Anti M later in the year.

Lisa Samuels writes:

I took my Tapa notebook with me on a trip out of the country and filled it while away, 18-25 May 2007. The long plane flights to Paris, the time in Paris, the E-Poetry conference there, and the long flights back to New Zealand are the time and thinking of this notebook. I found the concentration prompting; looking back at the notebook now in 2011 I see a number of my incurable themes in evidence in its pages.

The following two poems, from The Invention of Culture (Shearsman Books, 2008), are self-pastiched and embellished constructions from some of the contents of my 2007 Tapa notebook.


Everyone agrees and you have culture

The elect, morphemically engrossed
is beautiful, his haunch par terre
like the horsey appended to a carousel
whose figures of motion self-deceive.

‘Safari,’ he’s telling me about it, one exquisite
fortitude after another. We purr on land
in grasses, on highways made of carpet
the pinks of funerary curiosity

Not that economy isn’t the central basis of
blood terror, but the woman in the cake
knew how to get out of there fast
(he did it, he stayed right there in his doubt!)

They all smiled enormously their boundaries
lightened. After that, one might hope to be thinking.
Hyperions of crème brûlée, cities
one would heretofore have no reason to spell.



The beauty of self-arrested purity sits across from me
on the train. a few more nobs of oxygen proving history.
Our Lady of the Dollars isn’t his finest work, no matter:
without a nation-state, you’re free to superimpose.
Social doughnuts, pansy skies, the burlesque nausea
of the city. The presentation of calamity as the surest sign
of mimetic reasonableness. The soft manicure of reference
closets its indices
. He must have painted the heads on last.



   Poetry Slam, May 2011, with Alex Taylor (violin)
credit: Lydia Robinson

   credit: Joanna Forsberg

Last updated 7 July, 2011