new zealand electronic poetry centre


Tapa Notebooks


Notebook - cover Notebook p20 Notebook p53 Notebook p54 Notebook p75 Notebook p80
Notebook p85 Notebook p89 Notebook p99 Notebook p101 Notebook p106 Notebook p107

John Tranter has published more than twenty collections of verse. His collection Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected won a number of major prizes. His latest book is Starlight: 150 Poems (UQP, 2010). He is the founding editor of the free Internet magazine Jacket (, and he has a homepage and journal at

John Tranter writes:
My Tapa Notebook experience was so closely aligned to my visit to the "SHORT TAKES ON LONG POEMS” symposium at Auckland University in March 2012 that I can't separate them. In fact the Notebook became a kind of log of my visit, with lots of photos of the conference and the various conference-goers and the teamwork "long poem" engraved on the beach at Waiheke Island. 

Travelling by plane en route to Auckland I wrote a poem to read at the LOUNGE reading night, and it's included in the notebook: to be fair, it was a short trip, so I wrote a short poem, loosely based on Rimbaud's poem on the colours of the vowels: 

           Tasman Sonnet

A, green, the tint of absinthe dripping through 

a wad of lawn clippings – E, 

chartreuse, colour that only monks can see – 

I, cloudy violet with sparkling points of blue 

or paler, the fresh paint sheen of a car – 

when new, easy to buy – old, hard to sell. 

O, orange, the sound of a tolling bell 

travelling over town and factory, very far – 

U, under clear water, underwear – 

your flight spoiled by lots of crying babies 

though all of Europe is reflected in your eyes. 

You think you hear, as you brush your hair, 

the howling of a kennel full of hounds with rabies. 

A rainbow as you land; then a career surprise. 


How did I get the (digital) photos into the (material object) Notebook? I asked a nearby office bureau to copy a Photoshop page of photos onto color paper, then I cut them out, and pasted them in. In fact I did a lot of cutting out and pasting in: decoupage, it's called, these days. 

Some samples above. 

And while I was listening to Ella O'Keefe's paper on the poetry of the late Victorian (Australia) poet John Anderson I wrote a sonnet weaving some of his lines and some of Ella's lines into the fabric. This also appears in the notebook: 

     Poem Beginning with a line by John Anderson

It is the time of clarity, noon, 

when one creature recognises another. 

A banker sees a policeman as his brother. 

A street sweeper leans against his broom. 

The ants are my friends, also a rabbit. 

The Jindyworobaks come to mind. 

No European models – they're unkind, 

and plunge us into war; horrible habit. 

But our language comes from Europe: Latin, 

Greek, Germanic, Indo-European roots. 

In the pre-dawn chill, magic things happen.

An animal that never reads books eats boots

and leaves quickly. Dawn breeze, leaves 

fall. Cut wheat stands in sheaves. 


All in all it was a wonderful trip, and somehow the Tapa Notebook reified the excitement and the intellectual ferment of the experience into an object I am grateful to be able to preserve. On the net, and in the University Library in Auckland. 




JOhn TRanter and hoe

John Tranter and hoe on Oneroa Beach, Waiheke Island, 30 March 2012.
Credit: Pam Brown

Last updated 5 March, 2013