Born in Christchurch (1959), DAVID HOWARD co-founded both the literary
quarterly Takahe and the Canterbury Poets Collective. A past
winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition (1987) and a finalist
in Ireland’s Davoren Hanna Poetry Competition (2001), five years
ago David retired from a career as SFX supervisor for acts such as Metallica
and Janet Jackson in order to write from his isolated studio at Purakanui.
His books include the out-of-print Shebang (Steele Roberts,
2000) and How To Occupy Our Selves [with Fiona Pardington]
(HeadworX, 2003). His long poem ‘There You Go’ was recently
set as a cantata for solo female voice & piano by the Czech composer
Marta Jirackova. ‘The Harrier Suite’ first appeared in brief
#30 (Winter 2004), pp 36-40.
Howard comments: ‘With the lights out it’s less dangerous.
At Purakanui I enjoy the indifference of the world to my designs upon
it. Here we are now, entertain us. I don’t think so.
I feel stupid and contagious. I draft to Nirvana; Kurt Cobain’s
lyrics echo Arthur Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung
(1819). A theme: the World as Will and Representation. It’s fun
to lose and to pretend. While Cobain rages off the page, Thomas
Mann’s postscript to suicide is my intro. If it’s reportage
(and more) then so is the courtship of the harrier. From July until
October I look out:
Sometimes the male
dives on the female, forcing her to roll
over and present her claws . . .
‘Authority. The dictionary declares that a suite is “a
composition of several movements only loosely connected”. There
is no argument. Instead Mann’s notion of “aesthetic caprice”
mediates Cobain’s despair. She’s over bored and self
assured. The predatory ambiguity of our manners – ritualized
ambition – and the judgement of the harrier, which is categorical.
Perhaps. Yay, a denial.’
Poem: The Harrier Suite