new zealand electronic poetry centre


Tapa Notebooks


Notebook - cover Notebook front page Notebook p4-5 Notebook p8-9 Notebook p10-11 width= Notebook p14-15
Notebook p20-21 Notebook p32-33 Notebook p36-37 Notebook p48-49 Notebook p52-53 Notebook p58-59
Notebook p62-63 Notebook p68-69        

David Howard bio note:

David Howard is a New Zealand poet who lives at Purakaunui on the Otago Peninsula. In 2011 Cold Hub Press published his collected works as The Incomplete Poems. His collaboration with printmaker Peter Ransom, You Look So Pretty When You're Unfaithful To Me (Holloway Press/University of Auckland), was launched at the Going West Festival 2012. He is the Robert Burns Fellow 2013 at Otago University.

David Howard writes:

'We imagine we are observed and are of concern to someone.' (Czeslaw Milosz, 'I Saw')

I am clear about my lack of photographic talent: I take snaps, shots of the moment, rather than momentous photographs. But the camera helps me to see. Occasionally I use pictures to stimulate my writing because, when looking, I wonder: ‘What is happening before me?’ (Watch your language!) And again, ‘What happened before or after?’

Having worked as a pyrotechnician, forever on the road, I retired to Purakaunui in order to write. The rural hinter is perfect for this; by getting clear of the workaday world with its social whirl you realise what matters is the dirt under your fingernails. Yet I venture out (often singing ‘keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel’ by The Doors) to take evidential photographs of other possible lives; each frame is an opportunity to lose myself and, paradoxically, to obtain a place.

For instance: A portrait of an old woman in shadow; only the fingers of one raised hand are in direct sunlight. The text opposite, which is in parentheses because my words for this Tapa Notebook are asides teased from the moment, reads: ‘(There is plenty of light yet she is unable to enter it fully.)’

This shot is of my mother, who has advanced dementia and denies her past when it is presented: No, she never had a husband let alone children. Family snapshots— evidence that she had a richer life than she can admit to—confuse her. Now the act of photographing her is an attempt to lay new tracks that she can follow. For me the most precious aspect of photography is its capacity to capture, perhaps even to create, intimacy.

I think it is more difficult to do this with language, which can distort the thing it names. Some of my guiding lines come from William Langland’s poem Piers Plowman:

Counseleth me kynde quod y . what craft is best to lerne
lerne to loue quod kynde . and lef alle oþere


David Howard nzepc author page
David Howard at 3RD BIRTHDAY
David Howard in FUGACITY 05
David Howard in OBAN 06
David Howard in ALL TOGETHER NOW
David Howard at LOUNGE 24


David Howard seated at desk
Credit: Alan Thompson.

Last updated 11 March, 2013