Friday, March 15, 2013

Visiting Antarctica

No, it's not me who is visiting.
I wish.


Through a programme called Artists to Antarctica, a number of New Zealand writers, painters and photographers have been able to spend time on the ice and explore the place through their work, with the Fellowship's stated aim of increasing our "understanding of Antarctica's value and global importance". 
There is also a United States program run by the National Science Foundation; a New Zealand photographer called Anne Noble won this in 2008 (the only non-American that year) and took some beautiful shots, including this (see others on my previous post):


The book that I mentioned in my previous post is called These Rough Notes
The cover doesn't show up well because it is white.


It is a slim volume published by Victoria University Press, and it contains Anne Noble's photographs; poems by another Antarctic Fellowship artist, Bill Manhire; and a CD of the poems set to music by Norman Meehan and sung by Hannah Griffin, a jazz and blues singer who was once one of my students.

The title of the book is from some of the last words written in polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s diary from 100 years ago, and some of the poems refer to that ill-fated expedition. There is also reference to the Erebus plane crash in 1979 in these haunting lyrics.

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Here are two of the poems/songs - for, by and about some of those visitors to Antarctica.

                        
Scott Dead
                
I never thought to pay this price
The wind takes every word I write
The wind's another kind of knife
We sink and sail beneath the ice
I never thought to pay this price

Each day I dream of dying twice
And every day I pay the price
I hardly feel the cold frost bite
We sink and sail beneath the ice
We sink and sail beneath the ice

The wind's another kind of knife
In the midst of death we are in life
I never thought to pay this price
I write a final letter to my wife
beneath the ice, beneath the ice...
 - Bill Manhire




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Erebus Voices: The Mountain

I am here beside my brother, Terror.
I am the place of human error.

I am beauty and cloud, and I am sorrow;
I am tears which you will weep tomorrow.

I am the sky and the exhausting gale.
I am the place of ice. I am the debris trail.

I am as far as you can see.
I am the place of memory.

And I am still a hand, a fingertip, a ring.
I am what there is no forgetting.

I am the one with truly broken heart.
I watched them fall, and freeze, and break apart.

- Bill Manhire




Pictures from here (Grahame Sydney), here, here, here and here.

12 comments:

  1. Those poems are stunning. Painfully beautiful. Another book I need to track down.
    The penguins in the second photo are Adelie penguins, and to see them porpoising through the waves is harmony in motion.
    And thank you so much for the links. Heart-breaking.

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    1. I love the poems - and all of the others in the book too. The photos are fantastic but don't reproduce well on the computer - too much whiteness.

      I wish I may one day see Adelie penguins porpoising through the waves...

      Thank you, EC

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  2. Thanks for the info on the book but oh, those poems....! So incredibly sad and reminds me of the terrible decision that Simon had to make in cutting Joe's rope in 'Touching the Void'

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    1. Yes! I thought of that too when I first read it.
      The poems certainly reach out and grab you - well me, anyway ;)

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  3. Oh my such happy trails for some, these photos are still so dreamy for me, although I am so tired of wintry things at the moment. This is the time that I dream of spring and it's so very far away for us yet. I fear even the Easter Bunny may find it hard to romp about our yard!

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    1. I'm sure spring will be there before you know it, Karen. It's actually raining today!! There will be rejoicing amongst the farmers.

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  4. It is super beautiful but probably very expensive to do.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I think you're right, Filip - maybe I shall win the lottery ..?

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  5. I must get a hold of that book.

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    1. I hope you can, Lee. it's not a big book, but it packs a punch for me!
      :)

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