Richard von Sturmer

Richard von Sturmer is a New Zealand writer and filmmaker. He has published three books: We Xerox Your Zebras (Modern House, 1988), A Network of Dissolving Threads (Auckland University Press, 1991), and Suchness: Zen Poetry and Prose (HeadworX, 2005). A collection of his prose, On the Eve of Never Departing, will be published by Titus Books later in 2009.

As well as being a lyricist for several New Zealand bands, including Blam Blam Blam, he and his partner, Amala Wrightson, toured the country in the 1980s as the performing duo, The Humanimals. From 1993 to 2003 he lived and worked at the Rochester Zen Center, a Buddhist community in upstate New York. During that time his work appeared regularly in literary journals and anthologies. His poetry was also included in Best New Zealand Poems 2003 and 2006.

von Sturmer comments: ‘In the 1990s, living in upstate New York, I was separated from my library. A modest library in many respects, but one which I had created, willy-nilly, since my teenage years. One of the joys of relocating back to Auckland in 2004 was to be reunited with my collection of books. Since then many have remained unopened on their shelves, but once and a while I like to take down an old favourite and open its pages. One such volume is The Collected French Writings of Jean Arp, edited by Marcel Jean and translated by Joachim Neugroschel. Although Arp is better known for his sculpture and painting, he produced wonderfully imaginative poetry all his life. His surrealistic poems have a very pure quality, and when I happened to read through them once again last year, they triggered atavistic surrealist tendencies in my own writing. The result was “After Arp”, which I produced in two quick bursts. Arp stated that “It was in dreams that I learned how to write, and it was only much later that I laboriously learned how to read.” So it happened that “Mushrooms”, the poem that launches the series, came from a dream I had about black mushrooms with long green hair. According to the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, “A dream can only be where there is a reality to return to.” In this spirit the series closes with “Captain Cook’s Hat”, which is a small outcrop of rock, visible from the shore of Vanuatu’s volcanic island of Tanna. And yes, there is one small tree growing on the top and one on the side.’

Poem: After Arp


Trout 15: After Arp (displays over three web pages)

New Zealand Book Council writer file

Best New Zealand Poems2003 and 2006

Auckland Zen Centre

Mudlark 11

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