Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tim Jones’s New Zealand cricket stories

Tim Jones is one of a number of New Zealand authors who’ve written about cricket in their short fiction. I’ve been meaning to write more fully about New Zealand cricket fiction. Previously I posted an article about New Zealand Romance writer Eva Burfield’s 1961 cricket short story and mentioned the forthcoming reprint of Michael O’Leary’s novel Out of It.
In the meantime, I’ll post one of Tim’s short stories, ‘Alarm’, from his book Transported. It has a distinct Wellington flavour, mentioning the Basin Reserve and the New Zealand Cricket Museum. Interestingly, like the narrator in this story, Tim himself lives in Mt Victoria just up from the Basin Reserve. We should be careful, however, not to read too much into similarities between narrator and author.
Of the current crop of New Zealand short fiction authors, Tim’s collection Transported would be one of my favourites, along with Denis Baker’s collection Floating Lines. Another story of Tim’s with cricket in it is the opening story in Transported, ‘Rat up a Drainpipe’. Tim’s story ‘Alarm’ reproduced here with kind permission appeared first in Bravado 5 (November 2005):



The man is walking at a brisk pace. He walks with a slight limp; look closely, and you will see that the sole of his left shoe is worn down on its right-hand side, so that his foot lurches to the left every time he plants it. If this is painful, he gives no sign.           
  He is enjoying the weather and the view. The sun is shining steadily now, taking the chill off the persistent wind that blows over his shoulder. When he turns for a moment to look back up the hill, the wind blows his dark hair off his forehead, revealing a receding hairline. It’s not easy to judge his age; some, citing the hairline and the lines of worry that have settled in around his eyes, would place him in his early thirties; other would see the smooth, fleshy cheeks and the trace of adolescent gawkiness in his stride, and plump for the middle twenties.           
  He stand there for quite a while, looking back; who knows what he is thinking?           
  He turns around and begins walking again. The smile returns to his face as he looks out over the park and the suburb stretched out below. He likes Newtown. You can gaze in the shop windows without feeling the pressure of hurrying suits that is always there in the central city, and it is the starting-point for a host of potential expeditions: over to Hataitai, up to Mt. Victoria, out to the zoo and then Island Bay. He’s never been to Island Bay, and he wonders, as his gaze follows his thoughts, whether he can be bothered to go all the way out there today. It will probably take the best part of an hour to make it to the beach, and he can find somewhere to have lunch, and wander back, and that will use up most of the day.            
  Of course, he could just have stayed at the house and sat and read, but he’s sick of reading, and he’s sick of that house. Only a day to go, but he wants to spend as little time there as possible. What about tonight?—the question is there all the time, but the sun is shining, and really, it’s a hell of a view.            
  According to his map, for example, that’s Rugby League Park. He’s never been here when there’s been a game in progress, and it looks like those would be damn uncomfortable seats to sit on, but it’s pleasant to imagine being part of a crowd, sitting there wrapped up in his jacket with maybe some sandwiches and a thermos, if the weather is cold. He doesn’t really know anybody who likes rugby league, at least not enough to watch it live, but it would be OK to go along there on his own and get in behind the home team, whatever that was. The only Wellington team he knows about is Wainuiomata, but he’s not keen enough to trek all the way out there just to see them.           
  Besides, he won’t be here by Saturday afternoon. Not any more.
I suppose I ought to tell you, he’s just broken up with his girlfriend. That’s what this is all about. It was so unexpected, too. He’d come up for the weekend and a couple of days either side, as they’d arranged, and he’d been looking forward to it, and Elaine said she’d been looking forward to it, too. She met him at the airport, same as usual, and they had dinner at her house, then went out to see a band. Wellington was notorious for its lack of proper venues; they were always starting up new places that run for a year or so and then go bust or get closed down by the fire department. This was some place called the Loading Zone. They were early, and the band was late. The two of them sat at a table in the corner, ate nachos with cheese, beans and sour cream, and tried to talk, which was difficult with the noise from the jukebox and the people all around. He hated waiting for bands, and wished they hadn’t arrived so early.           
  Eventually the band appeared and started playing. They seemed pissed off, and played louder than usual, which with the terrible sound system meant that he was cast adrift in a great flood of noise that poured from the speakers and crashed against the bare concrete walls of the room.
  Elaine towed him to the dance floor. He tried to locate the rhythm. She motioned him closer, and he put his arms on her shoulders. She was wearing that black lycra dress which, privately, he considered the sexiest item in her wardrobe. He ran his fingers over the faintly resistant fabric of the material. At the beginning of the next song, he bent down and put his hands around her waist, but she shook her head. Too restrictive. They danced apart after that. In the break before the encore, a rumour went round that the band had had a row with the promoter.           
  By the time they got home, they were both tired. He stank of smoke and wanted to wash the bitter smell off his body. When he emerged from the shower, she was already in bed and evidently asleep.           
  She had turned onto her side in her cotton nightdress. He moved across in the bed and put his arm across her belly, snuggling up close to her. He thought about moving his hand a little to cup her breast and stroke her nipple with his fingers, and felt a faint stir of arousal. But it was late, and they were both tired. He shifted a little, enjoying her warmth against his body, and drifted off to sleep.
By now he’s made his way well down the hill, and is walking past the Winter Show Building, which he knows as the place where you play indoor cricket. If everything had gone according to plan, he might have been playing here regularly—in fact, they could both have been playing. He tried the men’s grade a few years ago, when he was up here staying with some friends who were in one of the teams, but it was too frantic for him. Also, that ball was bloody hard; he’d seen someone knocked out by it once, and they were fielding right near the back net. The mixed grade would have been the place for them, and he would have done quite well at that level.           
  Well, no sense worrying about that. He won’t be playing here in a hurry. Not that he’s about to abandon Wellington permanently—I mean, he likes the place, and he’s got other friends here. But it would be good to take some time away from the place, let some of the feelings settle down. Regret is the least productive of emotions.
He thinks he might walk down to the Basin Reserve. They spent a day there in summer, watching New Zealand play the Aussies. It was fine again (he’s never understood why people complain so much about Wellington’s weather), and they sat on the bank with some friends. He kept wanting to sit up to get a better view, but if you weren’t careful you slid down the hill and got your shorts up the crack in your bum. So he lay back on the blanket and talked about the game and drank two cans of beer and got a sunburned nose. Peter Taylor and Allan Border built up a long, slow partnership, but in the late afternoon New Zealand came back into the game, and by the close were batting again. The two of them left the ground happy, and held hands as they made their way back up Adelaide Road and home for dinner. At the time, he was convinced they would always be together. Now, he peers at the grandstand in the distance and tries to take his mind off his troubles.           
  They had gone to see the band on Thursday night. On Friday morning, he was woken by her bloody alarm. It was a little pink thing with a snooze setting, which meant it went off every five minutes and made snoozing impossible. Sometimes she set it for as early as six a.m., but today, in deference to their late night, it went off at seven. She reached out a hand and squashed it into submission, then rolled onto her side. “Elaine, honey—,” he said, and reached out his hand, which sometime during the night had slipped off her body and moved onto his own. He didn’t care if it was just the effect of a full bladder; it was morning, he had an erection, and he wanted her. He moved closer to her and kissed the back of her neck, he touched the skin at the base of her buttock, just where the nightshirt ended, and moved his hand upwards—           
  “No!” she said, and pushed him away, and got out of the bed, not looking at him, and headed off down the corridor. He lay back, wondering what he had done wrong. He hated when she was like this. He hated people being angry. What had he done? It wasn’t as if this was the first time this had happened, and she always came round in the end. Sometimes it took a while, though—and he was only here for a few days.
  Well, there was nothing you could say to her in this mood. Best to let it blow over. He would lie here for a while—        
  The alarm rang three more times before he summoned up the will to turn it off—it had an intricate little mechanism you had to think about, presumably to stop people turning it off in their sleep. He got up and went into the kitchen. She was at the breakfast table. He said, how are you feeling? She told him she had decided their relationship wasn’t working, and she wanted it to end. He said nothing. She said she didn’t mind if he stayed for the rest of his time in Wellington, but after that, she didn’t want to see him for a while. He said he’d try to get an earlier flight. He asked if there was someone else. She said, not yet. But she just didn’t love him the way he loved her, and there was no point pretending. He said he really did love her, and that he didn’t know what to say. She said, I know.           
  He sat there in silence. She said, come on, have some breakfast. He had some breakfast. She told him she was going to work. She said she was sorry. She gave him a hug. He duly hugged her back, but he couldn’t feel her body in his arms.           
  When she had gone, he read the paper for a while. Nothing much was going on.
  It looked like being a nice day. He rang the airline, who said they couldn’t get a seat for him today, but they could get him back to Dunedin tomorrow if he was willing to pay $40 more. He said, O.K. Then he went back and made the bed, and walked around the house for a bit, looking at things, like the two glasses he had bought so they could sit by the fire together and drink Drambuie and listen to music. Then he put on his jacket and headed out the door.
Now he’s walked almost to the bottom of Adelaide Road, and he’s trying to decide whether he wants to go and see the cricket museum at the Basin. He’s heard there’s some good stuff there—a bat used by Victor Trumper, a copy of the disc Bradman cut in England. The trouble is, going in there would remind him of happier times with Elaine. Everything reminds him of happier times. He’d be better off in the bush, by himself, with just the birds and the sandflies for company. Somewhere down south, the sun is shining in a steep-sided valley that not a dozen people visit in a year. You get there by scrambling out of the lower valley before the gorge, then making your way along the tops just above the bushline. It’s hot, and the scrub does cruel things to your sunburnt legs. Also, there isn’t any water up there, and by the time the track drops down into the bush you’re feeling the first flutterings of heat exhaustion. If you sit down for a while, that helps, and then you can make your way down through the cool bush to the stream that flows along the edge of the flats. Take a drink, have a rest, then make your way out across the flats, letting the long stems of grass make tiny scratches on your legs. The river flows in braided channels, and you can cross it if you’re careful, one channel at a time. There’s a rock by the far bank with a lawn of mosses and tiny grasses in front. Pitch your tent there; dehydrating your dinner over the little stove, you can look out to the west and see the sun fall behind the jagged teeth of the peaks.           
  And, dreaming of this inaccessible paradise, his feet decide against the cricket museum at the Basin. Watch him as he heads on down the street, around the ground, and into Cambridge Terrace. There are more people here, slower-moving than he, and he’s forced to step around them. See him practise his sidestep; that woman with the shopping bags and the toddler is left for dead, he rounds the old man in the stained brown jacket and shapeless trousers with ease and sets off for a tryline that is always too far ahead. He is twenty-nine years old, and in his head still the boy who came home after school, polished off his homework and his dinner, and headed for the back yard to play ball by himself, setting up imaginary goalposts, choosing imaginary teams, keeping track as the score mounted and twilight flowed across the flat Southland plains. He is lost here; send him back home. The tryline is too far ahead, and the defenders are closing, their stronger legs carrying them across the turf. At any moment the tackles will come, and he will fall, his wind gone, the ball spilled. See him lie five yards short of the elusive white line, tears flowing from his eyes, pounding his fists in frustration into the damp, unyielding turf.

© Tim Jones 2008

(From Transported by Tim Jones, Random House, Auckland, 2008)

More about Tim, including how to buy his books at his blog:

Transported by Tim Jones
(Vintage/Random House, 2008) 

David McGill's new cricket limerick

At the launch of A Tingling Catch, David McGill read a limerick not included in A Tingling Catch as well as his other Basin Reserve limerick that does appear in the book. I'll include David's new limerick here as part of the Tingling Catch blog archive:


Cricket Limerick

At the Basin toe-jam disaster
When Lillee and Thommo bowled faster.
But that breeze from the south
Induces Chappell-esque mouth
And Jonesy and Crowe record muster.

© David McGill 2010

Thanks David

Summer Reads: The Awa Book of NZ Sports Writing

Review by Mark Pirie of The Awa Book of New Zealand Sports Writing edited by Harry Ricketts, Awa Press, RRP $40.00.

Harry Ricketts released his book of New Zealand sports writing in June this year. I went along to the launch at Unity Books, Wellington. It was a full house. Writer and columnist Steve Braunias launched the book. I used to enjoy Steve’s football pieces when he was writing for the New Zealand Listener. At the launch, he told a story about his meeting with football writer Brian Glanville.
So, what will you get if you buy The Awa Book of New Zealand Sports Writing? Well, what you get is a carefully selected and highly personal compendium of national sports writing. It has an excellent introduction written by Harry himself. This book is the first of its kind since Lloyd Jones’ Into the Field of Play. Personal taste is definitely a hallmark of Harry’s selection. Harry is keen to capture odd as well as famous moments in New Zealand sport that convey a sense of literary craft as well as being memorable. Wit, humour and poignancy seem important. He has lifted various pieces from New Zealand sports books, newspapers, blogs, anthologies and biographies.
The oldest piece here is about canoe racing from The Nelson Examiner, 1843. Jeremy Coney’s snippet (from his autobiography The Playing Mantis) features Coney breaking his arm in the 1980s against the Windies - Joel Garner was the bowler. Brian Turner writes a poem for his brother during Glenn Turner’s difficult season in 1975/1976 (also included in A Tingling Catch). Other cricketing quirks are Hamish McDouall’s injury list for Chris Cairns used by Harry as a found poem.
Rugby and cricket are the most prominent. T.P. McLean, Keith Quinn, Chris Laidlaw, Greg McGee, Lloyd Jones and Spiro Zavos form the backline on rugby matches. Martin Crowe observes New Zealand’s semi-final cricket loss to Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup, and there are pieces by Joseph Romanos on New Zealand’s lowest Test innings total of 26, Lynn McConnell on New Zealand’s first Test victory in 1956 and Dick Brittenden on Bert Sutcliffe and Bob Blair during the Second Test against South Africa, 1953/54 season. Other sports featured are netball, racing, bowling, running, canoeing, swimming, mountaineering, fishing, yachting, boating, boxing, golf, aviation, archery, tennis, cycling, and soccer. Unfortunately, there is nothing here about rugby league or rowing. As Harry says, he ‘couldn’t find anything that was particularly memorable’.
Some of the best pieces in the book are by people one wouldn’t identify with a particular sport. Literary writers with much smaller audiences feature alongside big name sports writers and columnists from major dailies. Bill Sewell writes on Richard Pearse. Poet James Brown takes us to a child’s netball practice. You can sense the craftsmanship, with carefully chosen lines like: ‘Practice drizzles to a close’. Alongside conventional sports writing, poetry receives a fair amount of space. Bill Manhire has two racing poems, one very good poem on Phar Lap. Bub Bridger has a comic poem about wanting the Whetton brothers for Christmas. Pity the poem wasn’t better to really immortalise the Whetton brothers. Harry might’ve been better to have included one of his own cricket pieces in its place.
Overall, the great thing about this book is you can take it with you to sporting matches or on the airplane travelling. It’s the kind of book that’s perfectly designed for dipping into during the lunch breaks at Test matches or reading and storing at your summer bach. Not all the writing here is that memorable to me but I really like Harry's idea of a New Zealand book of sports writing as well as the range of sports on offer. Another editor might've picked an entirely different team, e.g. the cricket writing of Don Neely and Sir Richard Hadlee for instance. As Harry points out, 'You could probably assemble three or four parallel anthologies to this one without serious duplication’. Questions of personal taste aside, it’s nice to have a book like this to read, enjoy and return to in our leisure.

Review © Mark Pirie 2010

The Awa Book of NZ Sports Writing
edited by Harry Ricketts
(Awa Press: 2010)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peter Olds' letter on A Tingling Catch

This week I received a nice card from well known Dunedin poet Peter Olds. Peter has two poems in A Tingling Catch:


Hi Mark,
All the best for the New Year.
I like 'A Tingling Catch'. Some very good stuff in it.
Overall, a best anthology of the year.
Peter Olds

Thanks Peter

Summer Reads: The Bert Sutcliffe Story

Review by Mark Pirie of The Last Everyday Hero: The Bert Sutcliffe Story by Richard Boock, Longacre, RRP $39.99. Foreword by Alan Davidson.

Richard Boock’s recently published story of Sutcliffe’s life is an excellent cricket biography. It utilises the detailed research of author Rod Nye who died before his own work on Sutcliffe could be realised. Nye, a cricket lover, wrote the biography of Martin Donnelly, one of our greatest players, and was working on the Sutcliffe biography at the time of his death in 2004.
Boock’s final account of Sutcliffe’s life is a testament to Nye’s research methods and Boock’s own heartfelt commitment to the project. Doubly moving is that a number of Nye’s interviewees have passed away too before Boock's book was completed.
In this book you will find New Zealand team-mates of Sutcliffe as well as overseas players and officials talking about Bert and describing his deeds and innings first-hand. His extraordinary First Class playing career stretched from 1941/42-1965/66. What is remarkable is the consistency of the Sutcliffe portrait that emerges. Through the different voices of the era, Sutcliffe materialises as a kind, generous, egalitarian and popular man, the life of every party, and above all a batting ‘genius’. Most relate just how good a cricketer he was. Arguably, as Walter Hadlee comments, ‘he was the greatest cricketer New Zealand has produced’.
The book itself starts in explosive and unconventional manner, taking us straight into the Tangiwai disaster, the death of Bob Blair’s fiancée Narissa, and the Second Test at Ellis Park, South Africa, on the 1953/54 tour where Sutcliffe returned from hospital, took a swig of whisky and clubbed seven sixes on his way to an unbeaten 80. Of course, the story is now folklore (as seen by Jonny Brugh’s recent stage adaptation The Second Test and my own poem to Bert in A Tingling Catch) and perhaps why Nye wanted his book started at this moment in time. It was, of course, how the Sutcliffe legend began for many. From there Boock takes us deeper into Bert’s life story but in a more conventional manner, tracing Bert’s life from schoolboy cricket to retirement years, and ends with a poem read by Iain Gallaway as Sutcliffe’s ashes are deposited on Carisbrook in the exact fielding spot where Sutcliffe took his catch against the touring MCC in the 1946/47 season.*
One of the best things about Boock’s biography is its sheer range of contributors. Players young and old lend their support to the project, and as with any good history, forgotten sporting names and connections rear their heads. The lesser-known names all shine in fabulous batting-like partnerships with their star. Merv Wallace gets significant mention for his input into New Zealand cricket. It’s great to hear Walter Hadlee, John Reid, Australian Alan Davidson and Iain Gallaway talking about Sutcliffe alongside lesser known names like Noel McGregor, Eric Watson, West Indian Sammy Guillen and Tony MacGibbon. One of the finds was former New Zealand batsman Bill Playle’s account of the ill-fated 1958 tour of England. Nye’s brother Lindsay interviewed Playle, now living in Australia, in support of his brother’s
Overall, it’s a fitting tribute to Bert’s life. It’s also very revealing of the cricket hierarchy of the time, particularly the poor selection choices made on tours to England in 1958 and Pakistan, India and England in 1965, the tight scheduling of games, and the dangerous and unsanitary conditions players faced in those days when touring Pakistan and India. If I have a minor quibble, it’s the lack of endnotes to properly reference the book’s sources. Instead, we have a short bibliography. Maybe it was too academic but the attention to detail might’ve added to the book. For instance, quotes like that made by Walter Hadlee above need clear dates to put these comments in historical perspective.
Another remarkable part of the Sutcliffe legend is that Bert (who still holds the New Zealand record for the Highest First Class batting score of 385) never played in a winning Test team. Suffering from ill health after returning from the tour of Pakistan and India, Sutcliffe listened on the radio as New Zealand defeated the West Indies in 1956 for their first ever Test win. He may not have won a Test but after reading Bert’s story, there’s no doubt that Sutcliffe at least had won the hearts of all, most notably his nation. Boock has successfully taken on Nye’s extensive research and produced a compelling account.

Review © Mark Pirie 2010

*This year the urn containing Sutcliffe's ashes was reported lost and a search for them called off by the Otago Cricket Association when attempting to relocate them to the University Oval. "Dad's ashes are proving as elusive as bowlers found taking his wicket," his son Gary said. "Maybe there is a message here. Dad's wishes were that he would love to have his ashes scattered at Carisbrook."

See the related news stories below:
‘Cricket legend Bert Sutcliffe’s ashes lost’, NZPA, 12 August 2010:
‘Search for Bert Sutcliffe’s ashes called off’, NZPA, 13 August 2010

The Last Everyday Hero:
The Bert Sutcliffe Story
by Richard Boock
(Longacre: 2010)

Monday, December 20, 2010

An epigram for Jacques Kallis

At the weekend, one of my favourite players Jacques Kallis reached his maiden Test double hundred: 201 not out. India was on the receiving end of the batting blitzkrieg from Kallis and de Villiers. Here's my epigram tribute to Kallis.


The Double Hundred Club

Jacques Kallis reaching his maiden Test double
Tees off and joins the elite Leopard Creek golf club.

Poem © Mark Pirie 2010

A photo of Kallis teeing off like a golfer is on ESPN Cricinfo as well as an explanation:

Congratulations on the Test double!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Niel Wright’s NZ cricket poem

Here’s another cricket-related poem by Wellington poet, critic and publisher Niel Wright also known as F W N (Nielsen) Wright. Niel is a contributor to A Tingling Catch with his 'Elegy in the Kaiwharawhara Valley' about Ian Galloway Park in Wellington. I considered Niel's other poem 'Age Knocks' for A Tingling Catch but in the end I decided to leave it out when I thought it best to cut the book to under 200 pages. Nevertheless it’s important to the "Tingling Catch" blog as an online archive of New Zealand cricket poetry:


Age Knocks

Age knocks the human dream for six;
   Exposing as a comfort zone
The middle years
   Of lives like mine and yours

Then some pursue delusory success.
   And others over a conundrum puzzle.
Age knocks the human dream for six.

Age even has no place for sex;
Penis reduced to pizzle.
   Then all your efforts own
Mere hustle and mere bustle.

Age knocks the human dream for six;
   Exposing as a comfort zone
The middle years
   Of lives like mine and yours.

Poem © F W Nielsen Wright

I like the poem’s idea of having a cricket ball hit for six compared to the process of human aging. Niel implies that aging which comes to us all eventually is much like a bowler being hit for six. This can be a deflating action for any bowler just as aging can be deflating for many. There is a sense of a loss of power, you can no longer do what you did in your younger years. 
The poem like many of Niel’s writings makes use of a novel idea. Some of the rhymes may not be to everyone’s tastes, but Niel tries to make use of any word from any given time period. As such, he is like the home handyman that builds with every bit of timber he can find. Some critics have labelled him ‘old-fashioned’ concerning his vocabulary and technique but that is Niel and to judge him solely on his choice of words or technique and form would be to miss the value of his poetry overall.
In 2010, I edited and published Niel’s selected poems The Pop Artist’s Garland ( a selection from his epic poem The Alexandrians and some Post-Alexandrian work) and co-organised the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa with Niel and Michael O’Leary.
Check out Nelson Wattie’s launch speech on the Poetry Archive opening and Niel’s book at:
More information on Niel at Wikipedia:

Article © Mark Pirie 2010

The Pop Artist's Garland by F W N Wright
(HeadworX: Wellington, 2010)

Alistair Campbell and Pat Wilson's cricket poetry

This week I was pleased to see Robert Sullivan discussing a New Zealand cricket poem on the “Tuesday Poem” blog. The poem is ‘To Stuart’ by one of New Zealand and the Pacific's great poets, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell (1925-2009).
Campbell was a close friend of mine in the last 5 years of his life and I published two of his books, Just Poetry (2007) and It’s Love Isn’t It?: The Love Poems (2008). The latter is a joint collection of love poems by Alistair and his wife Meg Campbell, which continues to sell at Unity Books in Wellington.
Here’s the link to Robert’s discussion on 14 December 2010:
Robert, a well-known New Zealand poet and editor, gives a clear and concise description of the elegy, how it is written, and provides some of the poem’s autobiographical background. Campbell’s brother Stuart served in the Māori Battalion in WWII and died from ‘friendly fire’. It is a moving poem. Campbell’s poem ‘To Stuart’ also appears in A Tingling Catch and was first published by Robert in Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English.
When I visited Alistair we had several discussions on cricket. He used to ask me, How’s the cricket season going? He was interested in the game but I don’t think he was a devoted follower of cricket or a cricket nut. He talked of playing beach cricket with Denis Glover and of his brother Stuart’s cricket interest, which is mentioned in the poem above.
One other story of interest was Campbell’s early cricket listening days as a student with his close friend Pat Wilson. Later in his life Campbell composed a series of letter poems published as a hand-made booklet by Chris Orsman’s Pemmican Press called Poets in Our Youth.
As an autobiographical record of Campbell’s friends and associates, they are important conversations with the dead and the living. They give us a sense of the history of the period, i.e. who were the key figures in Campbell’s generation and provide unique insight into their lives with various snapshots, often humourous. I’ll list some of those discussed: James K. Baxter, Harry Orsman, W H (Bill) Oliver, Douglas Lilburn, John Mansfield Thomson, Pat Wilson, Eric Schwimmer, Fleur Adcock, Anton Vogt, Barry Mitcalfe and Louis Johnson.
In one of these letters, ‘Letter to Pat Wilson’, there is a mention of cricket, so I’ll share it with you here. It’s a rich anecdote about cricket in Alistair’s life:


From Letter to Pat Wilson

In your last letter to me, you paint
a vivid picture of Jim Baxter ‘sitting
on my floor at 3 Oriental Terrace
earnestly telling me which of my latest
batch of poems were good and which weren’t’.
I remember your room with its view,
of the bay and the harbour beyond. You had
strung your room from wall to wall with twine
on which you hung, for easy access, pages
cut from the Nonesuch William Blake, about whom
you were writing a doctoral thesis.
In a draught the pages would rattle like
dry forest leaves. Here we used to sit
drinking beer, talking poetry, listening
to cricket matches, and once to a Joe Louis
fight. They were good times, Pat. Beer played
an important part in them. Remember the weekend
when we helped Eric Schwimmer build his A-Frame
house at Te Marua. All of us pitched in -
Bill Oliver, John Thomson, John’s architect
friend, Frank Stockman, Gordon Orr , Harry
Orsman, and others. That was when you and I
bought a dozen of beer at Upper Hutt
and took turns humping it to Te Marua
several miles away. If we’d had the sense
to stop now and then and crack a bottle,
our burden would have become progressively

I’m always interested to find mentions of cricket watching or listening. A Tingling Catch has a whole section devoted to it: ‘Watchers and Listeners’. It’s an important facet of the game. From it you realize the impact cricket has on people’s lives.
Pat (or Patrick) Wilson, a contemporary of Campbell’s, was a New Zealand poet who died recently. He was born in Tauranga in 1926 and was educated at Nelson College and Victoria University College (PhD in 1953). He published one collection The Bright Sea in 1950 (as part of the Pegasus series of mini books) and later moved to England where he pursued a career in music, teaching and lecturing in philosophy and education. Some of his poems from his London period appeared in the Times Literary Supplement. After retirement in 1985, he returned to poetry and late in his life, Bob Gormack’s Nag’s Head Press, Christchurch, published a second collection of selected poems, At the Window and Other Poems (1997). It contained two cricket poems that I included in A Tingling Catch.
Wilson is a poet I’ve often admired and Vincent O’Sullivan anthologized him in several editions of the Oxford Anthology of Twentieth Century New Zealand Poetry. His two books are well worth seeking out.

Article © Mark Pirie 2010

(Sources: The Dark Lord of Savaiki: Collected Poems by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Hazard Press, Christchurch, 2005; Poets in Our Youth by Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Pemmican Press, Wellington, 2002; The Bright Sea by Pat Wilson, Pegasus Press, Christchurch, 1950; At the Window and Other Poems by Pat Wilson, Nag's Head Press, Christchurch, 1997; The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature eds. Robinson/Wattie, OUP, Auckland, 1998)

His poetry book Shout Ha! to the Sky was published by Salt Publishing, London

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Terry Locke's review of A Tingling Catch

The following review by Terry Locke appears on his website “Hyperpoetics”, an introduction to New Zealand poetry through reviews of New Zealand poetry books. Here’s the link:
Terry Locke, who teaches English Language Education at the University of Waikato, is a New Zealand anthologist and poet himself and edited two excellent poetry anthologies for New Zealand secondary schools in 2000: Doors and Jewels in the Water.


Review of A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009

You’ve got to hand it to Mark Pirie. Yet again, he has shown outstanding entrepreneurship in bringing out the first anthology of New Zealand cricket poems. As the blurb suggests, this book includes poems from 1864 to the present, grouped under categories of “Plays”, “Players”, “Matches and Tours”, “Songs, Satires and Parodies”, “Watchers and Listeners”, “Boys’ Songs”, and “Social Members”. The game commences, not with the toss of a coin, but with an appropriately poetic “Foreword” from New Zealand cricket writer, Don Neely – first read by him at the launch of Men in White in 1986. Here are a few lines from it, just to set the scene:

it is as tangible as a new scoop-bat and as intangible as a warm sunny morning;
exciting as a full-throated appeal, serene as an umpire’s answer.
It is competition, composure, memory, anticipation.

It is appropriate, I think, that cricket should be the sport to be honoured by the first sporting anthology in the New Zealand setting. Cricket has always had a certain mystique and a high degree of cultural resonance. Women were playing cricket before they were playing rugby and yes, despite the heading “Boys’ Songs”, there are references to women’s cricket in this book and also poems by women.
English Departments could do worse than have a copy of this book in the departmental library, despite the fact than many of the poems here are somewhat leaden, with some having the sense of having been written to order to flesh out the pages of the anthology. However, there are riches here also and some gems which Pirie has discovered and made available to readers. He has also done readers a great service in the various contextualising annotations he has made to poems referencing this or that player or match.
Let me share a few thoughts that occurred to me as I read this book. Firstly, there is the interesting spin (the obviously metaphor) that is found in historical poems in relation to what I might call the “commonwealth” theme.  There are some fascinating poems to be found related to this in the section “Matches and Tours”. G. P. Williams, termed by Pirie a “colonial” poet, has a poem about the final day of “England v. Australia”, a match played at the MCG and won by England thus allowing them to win the Ashes. Here are the final four lines:

Hurrah! For the winning and losing team –
Australians are English in all but the name;
In fondness for cricket we’re both the same.
Here’s to the noble old English game!

How would a post-colonial critic deal with this??!  Even more fascinating, from a politico-cultural point of view, is Thomas Bracken’s poem, “Sons of the giant islands of the South”, read by the author at a reception at Dunedin’s Queen Theatre in 1891 to welcome the Australian touring team (which beat Otago by 44 runs, but that is unremarkable). What is remarkable is the following sentiment of Bracken’s:

Ye are the heralds of those coming days
When on one flag one starry cross shall blaze
And float above the sunny lands that rest
In peaceful beauty on Pacific’s breast...

By anyone’s standard, this is awful verse, but the idea is remarkable. We already have an inkling that Bracken views Australasia as a single political entity in the title. Poms, Aussies and Kiwis are all happy brothers under the skin! And thank God for cricket, the gluey icing on the cake (or pavlova) which holds us all together.
What actually is a cricket poem? Well, most obviously, you’d think that a cricket poem was in the first place a cricket narrative, telling the story of a brave cricket deed (as per Mark Pirie’s poem about Bert Sutcliffe’s heroic stand against South Africa in 1953 when he returned from hospital, head bandaged, to play the innings of his life) or sharing a feeling about some aspect of the game. But there are poems here where cricket is very much the backdrop, part of the mise-en-scène where something far more significant is going on.
Probably my favourite poem in the book is David Mitchell’s “gasometer/ponsonby”. (He’s up against well-known poets such as Kevin Ireland, Brian Turner, Denis Glover, Murray Edmond, Elizabeth Smither and David Eggleton, by the way.) Mitchell has quite a presence in this book. He is the most significant cricketer/poet in our little pantheon. And he is the one person who has both written a poem about cricket in this book and has had a poem written about him, i.e. Ron Riddell’s “Poet & Cricketer”. Mitchell was no mean batsman and a stalwart of the Grafton Club, which has its headquarters at Victoria Park in Auckland. The “gasometer” in his title is both a literal reference to a nearby gas tank, but also a suggestion that this is a poem that is going to exploit metre. And it does:

down where the gaswerkes onlie rose
blows high or low on college hill
& underneath the oak boughs there
where sunlight & where time stand still
3 gummy old dags were wont to greet
with purple meths, new winter’s ill...

The cricket enacted on the Victoria Park green, of which Mitchell was undoubtedly a participant, is background to their story, which can only be speculated on by the writer:

reclining on a council bench
or clustered, stricken, on the grass
saluting late summer’s cricketers
with plastic bottle and paper glass...

The poem which follows is a reminder of how well Mitchell could write, even when he is in some ways using mock heroic to take the literary piss:

o was it bhudda, was it allah
was it world war three?
or just ian chappell
& dennis lillee?

fooles alone and poets would ask
would make request
the question begs: the beggars quest
the singers fail; the toilers rest
& the sun goes down
on their final test

& all this summer though I have kept watch
each Saturday when stumps are drawn
I have not seen them reappear
& the groundsman says simply
“the meffos? they’re gone

In short, among the doggerel and dross, you cannot fail to win the toss, and getting this will prove no loss, nor weight you like some albatross.

Review © Terry Locke 2010

Thanks Terry

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Joseph Romanos discusses A Tingling Catch

Well known sports commentator and writer Joseph Romanos discussed A Tingling Catch with Kathryn Ryan on "9 to Noon", Friday 26 November 2010.
Here's the link to the downloadable audio version:
Here’s a transcript of their discussion for those who can't download the audio version:

Kathryn: Shall we talk about A Tingling Catch first?
Joseph: Yeah, let’s talk about it, as it’s unusual.
Kathryn: Let’s talk about it. Why not? A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009, well, that’s longer than a century, a long century, got your hundred and fifty up, almost, well not quite. We know we've got some wonderful writers writing about sport and cricket but did we ever know we had so many...
Joseph: Well, it’s a collection by a Wellington bloke Mark Pirie who’s a cricket lover but really he collects poetry, he’s a poet and did an Arts degree in English and so on.
  I think it’s the first collection of cricket poetry in the world as a national collection from one country and this collection as it says here goes back to 1864, a poem [by Samuel Butler] that was in the Christchurch Press about the English cricket team that toured here in 1864. I think it’s really fantastic, I mean there are people who contributed to this book like John Clarke (aka Fred Dagg) and David McGill (a well known author) as well as your Brian Turners, Denis Glovers and so on. I mean there’s a collection of people, some of them are not well known for writing literature and some of them are not known as poets but they’re all in this book, it’s very interesting. And the other thing is Kathryn the way he’s gone about it. I mean the guy’s a fanatic, he said to me he went down to the Turnbull Library and asked for their collection of New Zealand Cricketer  - that was a magazine that started in the 1960s. So they brought him up every edition and gave him some funny sideways looks and he just went through turning page after page and he said…
Kathryn: Looking for poems?
Joseph: Yeah, and he said it was like walking along a beach, upturning stones and every now and then you uncover a gem.
Kathryn: I handed over my collection of cricket annuals once to a secondhand shop, had every year for about 12-13 years edited by Don Neely, who I think has written the foreword for this. I found some poetry in that, one by Brian Turner for his brother Glenn in 1976 - I think it was - when there was this stoush going on…
Joseph: Glenn wasn’t that popular then.
Kathryn: And it was completely over my head. What it talked about and what I remember, I’m not sure whether it’s in the poem now - forgive me, Brian, if I’m wrong here – was the idea of the gear being put away, like, you know, in a wardrobe over the winter months and the crusty bits of grass around, the spikes, the physicality of it. You could smell it.
Joseph: Good eh.
Kathryn: And the political overtones went completely over my head. But there’s certainly a tradition of it.
Joseph: There is. There’s a lot of good Brian Turner work. There’s one here he’s written, a sonnet about Ken Wadsworth, when Ken Wadsworth had died. Wadsworth was a New Zealand wicketkeeper before he died from cancer when he was only 29, and he was playing.
Kathryn: He was still playing wasn’t he?
Joseph: Yeah, just finished making a fifty in a One-Dayer. Very nice. It was read at his funeral, it was a eulogy at the Wadsworth funeral. And there’s a great one here about the First World War. I mean there’s some very moving stuff in here. I think it’s a really nice collection. It’s a lovely idea.
  He said he couldn’t fit all the poems in this book which is 180 odd pages so he started a website and put the rest of them on there, and he said he’s been amazed how many more poems have come in since then which have gone on the website. So he may have started something. He said he’s had enquiries from all round the world about it.
Kathryn: It’s a sport more than any other that lends itself to poetry because of the vagaries of cricket, the length of time, the physical environment…
Joseph: And the other thing he said to me about it is that cricket lends itself to poetry because of the weird words like ‘square leg’, ‘silly mid-on’, ‘cover’, all those.
Kathryn: How do you get a rhyme with ‘silly mid-on’?
Joseph: Yeah but it’s evocative isn’t it?
Kathryn: ‘Deep fine leg’…there’s quite a few when you think about it.
Joseph: Very much so. I won’t go into them all. And so he said these words lend themselves to poetry…
Kathryn: ‘Middle stump’, you know…
Joseph: Yeah, so it’s a good collection.
Kathryn: What about the likes of Glover who is first and foremost, as is Brian Turner, recognised for poetry … although I should recall [Brian's] days as a New Zealand hockey rep… [Brian]’s first and foremost known for poetry. How have [those like Glover] approached what they’ve written?
Joseph: Well, he’s gone through and pulled out any poems by anyone whether it pertains to New Zealand cricket. It could be Thomas Bracken or Brian Turner. It could be anyone. So people find themselves in this book who aren’t really poets but they might have written a sonnet once and got it published in the 1972 June edition of New Zealand Cricketer, and here it is.
But he has tried to get good poems. He hasn’t put anything in here.
Kathryn: It’s funny. It’s a wonderful tradition and one that’s slightly been lost. I’m interested to see it revived this week in this circumstance. The idea of writing as a means of recording how people are feeling, a record of what people are expressing, and a lot of those old sports magazines used to run them as a matter of course in poems.
Joseph: It’s true. I like the title A Tingling Catch, it’s from a line by one of the poets [Seaforth Mackenzie]. It’s nice isn’t it.
Kathryn: A Tingling Catch: the hand can tingle, it certainly can and wicketkeepers have got plenty of experience of that.
Joseph: Plenty of tingling.
Kathryn: Now, to the sport.

Joseph also discussed A Tingling Catch on Radio Sport, Saturday, 27 November 2010 and read a poem from the book, 'Ken Wadsworth' by Brian Turner.
I hear A Tingling Catch has been selling very well at Unity Books in Wellington.
Thanks Joseph

Mark Pirie's Christmas poem 'Comedy'

Since it's the Christmas season, I'll post a Christmas poem of mine from last year. It appears this year in the Earl of Seacliff Christmas Surprise 2010 (a free booklet/gift for their friends and clients in the spirit of The Beatles who gave away a free record to their fans at Christmas time). It mentions cricket (naturally) and Bob Dylan.



At New Year,
I often flick between
cricket and Best Albums
lists on Amazon.

In Comedy’s Top 10
Bob Dylan’s listed
for his first ever
Christmas album.

Despite good intentions
to feed the multitude,
even at Christmas time,
it seems the critics

won’t let it pass
them by. Dylan?
Christmas sing-along?
What’s he doing?

The great can’t
escape the carping.
But the poor, the struggling
do escape starving.

Poem © Mark Pirie 2010

Thanks to Brian E. Turner for compiling the anthology.

(From Earl of Seacliff Christmas Surprise 2010, ESAW, Paekakariki)

Monday, December 6, 2010

An interview with cricket poet Nick Whittock

Nick Whittock is a Melbourne poet and cricketer. He plays for the Reds Cricket Club in Melbourne which has a colourful history to tell. See their web page at
I first came across Nick's work in 2008 through a mutual friend Paul Hardacre, an Australian poet and publisher with papertigermedia. Paul said he knew a guy who wrote lots of cricket poems and had done a book of them. I said, cool, tell me how to get in touch with him. I contacted Nick and got him to exchange cricket poetry books. I sent him my book Slips and he posted me his book covers (2004).
covers quickly became one of my favourite cricket books. I bought extra copies and sent them out to friends. It’s an unusual design, visually attractive, lots of photos of cricketers in fielding positions or lazing round on the field at various moments during a game, and the poems are mysterious and repay further reading. Written in contemporary style and idiom, they cover a wide ground: Australian opener Michael Slater’s thoughts when batting right through to a concrete poem on Jason Gillespie (see below) and an extended longer poem on Muralitharan’s unusual bowling action.
Later I contacted him again to use two of his poems for A Tingling Catch.
In the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons Nick toured the North and South Islands of New Zealand with the Reds Cricket Club. On each tour he played about 9 games against local club teams.
Last month I told Nick I was doing a blog and he sent me some of his new cricket poems and I asked to do an interview with him as well. Here’s the interview followed by a new series of Nick’s cricket poems.

Mark: When did you first start writing cricket poetry?

Nick: I moved to Melbourne in 2000. That was when it started. Yeah definitely. I'd written a fragment – something kinda sci-fi with astronauts n radars. It was rad but tiny and had no future. Until some cricket words replaced a number of key terms and everything fell into place and the fragment was suddenly 'about' something (it prophesied – accurately - Brian Lara's return to form in that summer's test series).

Mark: How do you compose your poems? Do you take a notebook to matches and Tests and compose during the match or do you mainly do your writing at home after the match has finished?

Nick: Yeah definitely. Variously. Sometimes I'll transcribe lines from the commentary or the ads during the coverage. If I'm watching a game live I barely write anything down – my involvement is far to concentrated. But I certainly gather concepts, visions and ideas. Form is very important in the construction of a poem. If I write cricket poetry it's less to do with subject matter than form. The forms of cricket and the syntax that organises them often underlies my poems. The most obvious example of this is a lot of scorecard poetry I've been building where the words / lines align on a scorecard and are distributed according to the scorecards' frames and the very particular flows of reading involved in reading a scorecard.

Mark: In 2004 you published a cricket poetry book called "covers". What kind of reception did you get from the poetry community and cricket fraternity? I gave a few copies of it to cricket poets in New Zealand and it went down well with them. Tell us about the book and how it came together, i.e. the interesting use of cricket images mixed in with the poems?

Nick: Yeah definitely. Covers was published through an imprint that the great online journal cordite had going for a little while – the imprint was called COD (Cordite on Demand). Davey Prater (cordite's editor) asked me if I'd like to do a book with them. Obviously I jumped at it. Davey was very active in encouraging me to construct something that wasn't just a book of poetry but an artefact of some beauty. I love those old cricket books full of old grainy black and white photographs of beings (cricketers) in weird distorted stances. I sifted through some books I had at hand and extracted images of cricketers on the ground, looking as though they were asleep or in various states of recent awakening. It's an obvious thing but I love how soporific cricket is – I think it’s often criticised for being boring. It’s possible these critics don't get just how intensely interestingly boring it is – the sleepiness, the way time passes, the dreaming that goes on. The pictures were some sort of reflection on this. And they allowed the creation of a different sort of flow (series of resonance) than just page and text would have. People I know who have read or seen covers tell me they like the way it looks n largely profess to being mystified by the content. Beyond that I don't really think it was ever 'received' – yet?

Mark: You play cricket yourself. Do you think being a cricketer is essential to writing cricket poetry and understanding the finer points of the game or can anyone write cricket poetry?

Nick: Yeah anyone can. I guess they just would be less likely too. Someone who doesn't play cricket would have a completely different understanding of the game – the finer points would be differently fine. I wonder if they would understand the constant failure a cricketer has to deal with.
This is important as it leads to the special emotional value that success at cricket holds – how momentous cricket’s events are and what it means to a cricketer when they manage to get things going their way. The profundity of cricket’s events might be lost on a non-cricketer, but they could always garner profundity from different sources and through observing other aspects of the rigmarole.

Mark: You run a blog "Ashes/Urn", has this encouraged interest in your cricket poetry. Or is it mainly a way for you to blog on cricket matches and events?

Nick: Yeah definitely. It gets me writing and the ideas that come up there and a lot of the lines too can end up in or informing poems. Posts about Michael Clarke get a lot of hits. I wonder what they make of it though. Yeah definitely it's handy to have the presence to refer people to when they express an interest. As much as blogging on matches it’s a way to invent or distort concepts and philosophies. I find it very free and experimental. It’s rigorously anti-rigour, but without being stupid or stupidly light.

Mark: Tell me about your new Clara poems and how they came about?

Nick: Michael Farrell [an Australian poet] suggested the scope of my project (poetry solely about cricket) was too broad and that I should try only writing poetry about Michael Clarke. So I did. At that time Clarke came with Lara Bingle, a combo that immediately adds a third element - Brian Lara. So when I was writing about Clarke I was also writing about Lara, and Lara was either Lara or Lara or, actually, Lara was always both Lara and Lara. Given the resonance across all these names I began to feel that the distinction between Clarke and Lara was a bit arbitrary so I took Clar and Lara and made Clara. Brian Lara's middle name is Charles so you see his name written like this B. C. Lara. So Clara became this monstrous amalgamation of forms and started sweeping up the entire cricketing world. It became some kind of motivating force – a figure of pure desire or something. When Clarke and Lara split I took that view that it was a split as in the way a cell multiplies by dividing. Clara proliferated.



Clara Poems

mj clarke
lb bingle
bc lara

i should be licking you i mean
you walk real quick
our paths wouldnt mind intersecting wing attacks
positioned according to a rules no trouble
executing the pass scale models tins tin n tans le tan
tinting queens park savannah

coconuts yr arms straight balls long
dlf post goalsre nailed teamsre buried cherries
in my beer teamsre buried cherries in my beard

sigh to in i remember the code look good late
if ya could share m licks a throw supremo i could lap on til it dissolves ve
been seein chins
like all reflexs explained in chins wing attacks a
cute chin motivates a possession upshots a goal the
let let me lick yr chin chin sigh to in n umpires result

she gets home smashed n sticks the cane end of a cricket bat in her beak
its as though the tubes made to take it applying code she remembers
the array of dandelions in the outfield n schemes

during the subsequent 20 overs hondas
blush chins intercept beer chins intercept beards
in the morning riding her small bike
through albert park she feels used by middle park
in the library she meets someone from the library they
pass comment on her coat n beak n works worthwhile 

claras beak places a weed on the civilian jaw
deep mid wkt she toots
shes polished
the yellow bands on her tigers
theyre catchin rodins eyes theyre scratchin
at 1st slip he thinks of chins lines of cunts every

blades n eye the fields ponds the take itself
cannot be recalled yet its glory adds as
reconstructions add

careful to avoid the witchety grubs
for fear of coppin
flu clara
s foot long beak tootles n sucks the outfield
suckin down th
e occasional weed clar

as hairs unconscious the air fills with
grains she slides to her left collects the pill
n reverses its trajectory but still flatter


claras hot
claras god
claras bergson
dadas is comeback
rocks monroe
claras choosing
claras the planets n the stars
claras chooses chance
claras neat little bundle of desire
claras decent indecent
claras replicants
the prohibitions get to me
claras speyside
claras islay
claras never gonna trick an old goon like me
claras a husband out by repetition
claras hadlee
claras lillee
claras brett lee
claras moonee valley
claras leeward
claras islands
claras country
claras trails coke odour
claras peas
claras stout
claras a husband out bye repetition
ah tried to be prince o m own land but lacked a people so claras
claras dairymaid
claras proust
claras lvd by proust
claras beer
claras drinking
claras prince
claras people
claras don bradman
claras trails coke odour
claras heart
claras the heart of the country
claras dog
claras cat
claras bear
claras fish                     ing
claras oppen
claras opening
claras spreading
claras field
ah tried to be prince o m own land but lacked a people so claras
claras clara
claras clara
claras clara
claras clara
claras hot
claras difference itself
claras dairymaid
claras prince
claras rain
rains wind
sandwichs sandcastle
claras uncles
claras grandpa
claras daughter claras daughter nucleire identical
claras dissolved
claras real milk
claras real cow
claras ray
claras rising ground
claras beak
claras name is prince
claras hot scotch
claras mulga bill
claras engaged in war against winter
claras changes
claras climate
b b b b b b claras
takes 2 batters to make a single
claras valley
claras mighty
claras soft
claras begas
claras waggas
claras clara clara
claras suns
claras the heart of the country
claras heart
claras matter
claras michael douglas
claras Kathleen turner
claras beard
claras drinking
claras beard
claras fishing
claras 23 lamby clarkeys
claras drome
claras hemulen
claras golden drome
claras grey drome
claras slazenger
claras gray nicolls
claras le mans
claras official pasta
fixie gangsre the aviators
claras the aviators
claras clara riding
wouldntve thought buddhad be one to give anyone out
claras critical
claras dork
claras fewer greys
claras dark
claras lady
claras n all

Poems © Nick Whittock

Covers by Nick Whittock (COD: Melbourne, 2004)

Nick Whittock's poem 'Dizzy Gillespie' about former
Australian bowler Jason Gillespie, who once scored a Test double century
at No. 9 against Bangladesh batting as the night watchman.

Thanks Nick

Covers can be ordered from Nick. His email is

See also my blog post "Mark Pirie's Slips - cricket poetry"

Interview © Mark Pirie 2010