Latest Posts

DREAM HOUSES poetry collection

With a foreword by acclaimed Australian poet Judith Beveridge, DREAM HOUSES is “an assured, accomplished and absorbing first collection, by turns earthy and sensual, savvy and strikingly perceptive, strikingly apt.”

Anchored in bodily experience, the poems in this 65 page collection investigate memory, intimacy and belonging in a “fresh and incisive” way. Order now from Kelsay Books or Amazon Europe /Amazon US.

🌿 These poems seem expounded wholly from both body and spirit and often attain their power from the way beauty and menace play off against each other.”

JUDITH BEVERIDGE

🍃 Beautifully constructed poems plunge us into wild coastal New Zealand landscapes filtered with green light, and large night skies.”

JANET KENNY

Emily Dickinson & punctuation-reveal

I’ve long suspected I lean on em dashes too heavily in my poems. I blame Emily Dickinson. OK, that’s very weak. I blame myself and my love of Emily Dickinson’s em dashed line endings, for in Emily’s hands the em dash is sublimely enigmatic.

Witness, a few lines from one of her most well-known poems, Because I could not stop for Death (1863):

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

After all those pauses and hesitant gaps, the final full stop is a killer. It hurts but I think I have to strafe my entire manuscript of gratuitous em dashes. Kill my darling little dashes. Create that oblique ending some other way. OK, I can deal with that. But what I’m still coming to terms with is my now revealed fondness for commas, as evidenced by the picture, below. My current manuscript run through Clive Thompson’s incredibly cool punctuation machine. No words. Commas galore. Quite a few question marks, a couple of lovely ampersands and a dollar sign. But very few parentheticals, so, on balance, not all bad…

I ran my current work in progress through this punctuation parsing tool, in a not at all procrastinaty way.

Alchemy: from poem to song

Setting of “Mother of Pearl” for voice, trombone and cello by Lisa Stick
I first met music educator and singer, Audrey Bashore, when she taught my son at the Kindermusik early years music studio in Hamburg.

A few years later, Audrey asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with her and jazz composer Lisa Stick to turn one of my poems into a song. That’s how I came to be sitting in a comfy armchair listening to Audrey singing my poem, with Lisa on trombone and Ruben on cello. It was a live transformation of one art form into another and alchemy of the best kind.

Being a part of Audrey’s Art Song project was magical, so I was doubly thrilled when they agreed to perform settings of Mother of Pearl, and Sounds of the Sea at the launch of Dream Houses.

Is it worth doing a special launch edition?

The launch of your book is a big deal. Is it worth creating a limited edition for the launch? I hummed and hahed about this for ages, but in the end I decided to do it.

I had a few reasons: design compromises happened in the production phase and I never loved the way the book looked. Maybe that was mere vanity. One other reason was the realisation I wanted to somehow honour my heritage more than the cover design I ended up with did. Another reason I made a special edition was to acknowledge the people who were showing up for me at the launch. All good reasons. On the downside, the cost was a factor, but in the end, I decided the best solution was to offset print an A1 poster on soft grey uncoated stock and chop it up myself using a scalpel and metal ruler. I used an online print service and they did a really passable job : ) Next step was to dust off the cutting mat and channel Design School packaging 101 wisdom from back in the day (stroke the paper, don’t go hard). I got to slicing, creasing and folding. A tad nerve-wracking as I had just enough posters and couldn’t afford a single botch. In the end, it was a really cost-effective way to create something special for the launch. Just a bit of planning and a sore back from standing at the cutting table all day 😅

final result!

But I also want to talk about the image. The image and the accompanying diary are dated 1933. They come from a trip my grandfather Walter Scott and his brother Bobby made together in the Rakaia headwater region of Te Wai Pounamu. The brothers were keen trampers and mountaineers, regularly heading up above the snowline. The photographs and notes we still have in the family are an incredible record of the land as it was then.

Louper Pass, above Ramsay Glacier, Rakaia River headwaters, Te Wai Pounamu

The image comes from a time in history that I feel conflicted about glorifying. It reflects the experience of a small group of privileged Pākehā men, who were free to roam the supposedly ‘empty‘ land. It’s a set of circumstances that makes me inherently uncomfortable. However, although my grandfather was a product of his era, he had an abiding and deep love and respect for this land. So I decided to make peace with context, and choose a photograph of the Ramsay Glacier, taken from Louper Pass.

Comparison of Lyell Glacier in 1866 and in 2018. Images Credit: Julius Haast and A. Lorrey – NIWA

Somewhat sobering is a rough comparison with the same area today, showing how much creep back the glaciers have experienced in just a bit over 100 years 😢

Dream Houses launch, Hamburg

We launched Dream Houses a year ago at the Lesesaal Bookshop and Café in the heart of Hamburg. Thank you again to all the people who came along. Also Stefanie, Wolf and Massimo for the beautiful space, to Audrey, Ruben and Lisa for the music, to Hugh for his reading, to Caitlin for the Mihi, Theo for just being, Geraldine for the aroha, Andrés for being my rock and to Carsten for the gorgeous photos 📸


DREAM HOUSES Launch at Lesesaal Bookshop & Cafe

DREAM HOUSES will be launched at the stunning Lesesaal Bookshop and Café in the heart of Hamburg, on 25 October at 19:30. Come along and celebrate the occasion with me and my creative friends over drinks and snacks! In honour of the occasion a special edition of the book will be on sale.

LOCATION & PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFO
Lesesaal Bookshop & Café is located at Stadthausbrücke 6, 20355 HAMBURG.

Public Transport: Take the S1, S2, or S3 to Stadthausbrücke station or the U3 to Rödingsmarkt (5 minute stroll).


Goethe Institute Interview 2/2

This is a slightly truncated version of the interview I did with Romanian poet, Iowa alumnus, journalist and publisher Andra Rotaru about writerly attraction and literary crushes. Part one is all over this page here.


PART TWO

ANDRA ROTARU (AR): What are the literary and artistic tendencies that you are attracted to?

TSS: I think of poetry and art in general as a part of a continuum of image-making. I’m also a visual artist and designer, I studied painting at Art School and worked for a long time as a graphic designer. Image making for me has to do with framing, perspective and scale.

Read More

Goethe Institute Interview 1/2

In 2017 it was my privilege to be an invited guest of the European Poetry Biennale at Transilvania University in the gorgeous Romanian city of Brasov. It was a truly game-changing experience for me; from being approached for an autograph by a shy young woman with dazzling blue eye shadow in the local kebab shop, to walking the foothills of the Carpathian mountains with hungover poets, not to mention being upgraded to first-class on the way home.

After the fact, I spoke to Romanian poet, Iowa alumnus, journalist and publisher Andra Rotaru about the experience and about my abiding interest in both slapstick humour and the darker notes expressed in the arts of all kinds.

PART ONE

ANDRA ROTARU (AR): You’ve been living in Hamburg for a long time. The first poetry volume, entitled “Dream Houses”, was published in the USA by Kelsay Books, in California. How difficult is to write, in general, in another language than the country you live in? What is lost, what is gained?


TSS: I deliberately write in English, despite having lived in Germany for over ten years and speaking the language pretty fluently, I still have a hard time with writing poetry. For me, German is first and foremost a pragmatic language that has to do with dealing with authorities and buying groceries, an everyday language. But my inner world is English, and to externalise this I use the appropriate means. For me, writing poetry in my native language is also about re-centering myself within a language which links me to an earlier life in New Zealand.

Read More

Paradise Diptych | Downloadable Poem with notes

The poem Paradise Diptych (download here) from my first poetry collection DREAM HOUSES was inspired by this mural by New Zealand artist Colin McCahon. Painted directly on the interior wall of the artist’s kitchen, circa 1952, it was acquired directly from McCahon’s French Bay home (now the McCahon House museum) by my father in the early 1960s.

As the painting formed the inside cladding of the McCahon family’s kitchen wall it had to be literally cut out of the existing house. My Dad and his friend Frank, then architecture students at Auckland University, drove out to the lush, green west coast of Auckland one afternoon and removed the work in two pieces, lashing them securely on top of their car with ropes, then plugging up the space left by the wiring and light switch with a slap of brown paint, which you can see in the photo above. I don’t know if it was raining on the day they drove out to get the painting, but I like to imagine it was.

I grew up staring at this picture as we ate our dinners, and I always thought it was my Mum and Dad in their garden in Auckland, which was a kind of paradise for us four kids (the four little birds from the poem). The original painting still hangs over my parents’ dining room table, a facsimile has been installed in the museum.

Was mein Leben reicher macht?

Someone, somewhere, once said that we become the books that we read. So, if we read happy books, we get happy, right? Well, now you can experiment on yourself with the nicely produced volume Was Mein Leben Reicher Macht from Knaur Verlag. These collected musings of Die Zeit reading Germans are now available in hardback form. Turn to Page 161 to see my contribution in visual form! Was Mein Leben Reicher Macht by Wolfgang Lechner is available from Amazon and directly from Knaur Verlag.

Kindermusik // Musicalische Früherziehung auf Englisch

More than one million kids in 60 countries have enjoyed Kindermusik since its beginnings in the United States in 1978. Hamburg’s very own Kindermusik Studio is run by dedicated ex-pat American entrepreneur Karen Bergquist-Lüth. Karen aims to create a musical experience that will engage children and their families in the fun and excitement of exploration in movement and song.

SCOTT. Design + Text created this illustration for Kindermusik way back when, and it is still going strong in a swathe of printed media all over Hamburg.

BERNHARD RITSCHARD Violin Maker // Website Relaunch

Bernhard Ritschard is a peripatetic, polyglot violin maker of the traditional Italian school. Born in Interlaken at the foot of the Swiss Alps, he learned his craft at the tradition-rich International School of Violin Making in Cremona, following in the footsteps of Antoni Stradivari.

In his northern German workshop near Lübeck, Bernhard creates and restores repertoire-specific instruments and bows for Early Music specialists and Music Schools from all over Europe.

A catalogue of these hand-built string instruments is now online at: www.historical-instruments.com.

br-website-_-ueb_in

ipad_white_brwebsite

brwebsite_1200-x-800-copySCOTT. Design + Text designed and translated the website which features the wonderful photography of Nina Strugalla.  Johannes Zapotoczsky programmed the site to function beautifully on a desktop or tablet. Thanks guys.