There was a break in the weather after basically a month of snow and rain. We just don’t get snow like that in New Zealand (a foot at a time), and it’s kind of difficult to imagine and to get used to. It would be like trying to drive over the Southern Alps. That way you can imagine it. The streets looked like the Himalayas and after a while, you get crazy to do a poster run. People in New Jersey talk about “weather rage”. Everyone’s cooped up and that’s not good for anyone.
I left from Lambertville, New Jersey, which is my base and travelled up I-95 to Princeton. This road is the interstate that features in the intro to “The Sopranos.” Ah, woke up this morning and got myself a gun. Now there was a TV series and so well written.
The journey to Princeton takes about a half hour. I drive down beside the beautiful Delaware River for about ten or fifteen minutes before getting onto I-95. Driving on I-95 is like playing skittles. Everyone is zooming everywhere. I don’t know if that’s good for everyone, but it’s how America is.
Princeton is a lovely and picturesque spot. The town is ruled by the old university which looms most places you look. I’m sure Robert Smith could come here and write some fine Cure type song about the gargoyles on the towers. They are beautiful. The structure of various buildings reminds me of Otago Boys’ High School. The university really is a beautiful sight. It helps my imagination too when I remember that this is the place (Princeton University) which stirred Jimmy Stewart into becoming an actor. Jimmy joined the theatre groups whilst he was at Princeton and the rest is history. I love it. You don’t get actors like that every five minutes and the arts (of all kinds) must be encouraged. People can do small things to help. That’s what I figure I’m doing.
I was carrying with me poem posters by Sam Hunt, Robert Pinsky, Marcie Sims, Michele Leggott and Janet Frame. It is always a privilege to be taking poetry to the streets.
This run was mostly around the various notice boards at the university. There’s a lot going on at this place and you can tell this by the way the various poster sites are jammed with colour and imagination. People are obviously excited and alive. It’s so easy to put up Sam Hunt poem posters, as it really sticks out to me that Sam is, and has always been a vital force for Kiwi poetry. The Sam Hunt poem, ’11 Runes (for Alf, turning 11)’ has many lines that hit me dead centre. To me, Sam Hunt stands beside any poet anywhere in the world:
“I’ll give you what I’ve got
to see you through,
and if I’m not
there, I’ll be waiting for you”
So all this kind of thing (Sam Hunt’s poetry), is really good to think about as you put up posters. The words bring you back to a real ‘core’ within yourself. Sam talks from the heart.
New Jersey? Well, this is where I saw a whole cafe erupt in cheers last week when a Bruce Springsteen tune (“Mr State Trooper”) came on the in-house stereo. These people are tremendously proud of ‘The Boss.’ And he speaks for them so eloquently. This is all how like New Zealand poets speak for New Zealand in such a clear way. They portray our experience or their experience and we can easily relate.
Frank Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. Now there was a dude (a ‘dOOd’) – so much style and charisma and so much a strong voice. Frank put that voice forward with ease.
Yes, New Jersey is a very interesting place. So many influences and so much passion. I’ve never in my life been on a poster run that didn’t make me feel good and this one was no exception.
As I drove back down I-95 to Lambertville, I listened to a tune from ‘The Chairman of the Board’
“When I’m out on a
quiet spree, fighting
vainly the old ennui…”
– “I Get A Kick Out of You” – Francis Albert Sinatra
Well, I get a kick out of postering and certainly for New Zealand (and American poets). It’s 100% Real and I prefer that.
Keep the Faith,