Wordsworth

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - By Gabe Atkin­son

Gabe Atkin­son

There’s a grandil­o­quent pageant of ex­trav­a­gance this week, as read­ers were in­vited to sub­mit pur­ple prose, in­clud­ing the open­ing to The Pic­ture of Do­rian Gray, by Os­car Wilde: The stu­dio was filled with the rich odour of …

K Flem­ing of Ep­som writes: The stu­dio was filled with the rich odour of frangi­pa­nis in fe­cund and roseate blos­som. The sound of soar­ing gulls in gar­ru­lous full throat pro­vided an or­ches­tral sound­track to the scene un­fold­ing in the lofty tur­ret, set pre­car­i­ously into the sheer and sweat­ing cliffs. The old mas­ter, an as­cetic at his oils, peered lugubri­ously at the chrysalid can­vas be­fore him.

From Queen­stown’s Amanda Robin­son: The stu­dio was filled with the rich odour of lan­goustines. Sweet plumes of swash­buck­ling steam puffed from the pot, snap­ping at my ol­fac­tory nerves. Teas­ing. Tan­ta­lis­ing. He hov­ered nervously over the can­vas, sable brush grasped in one sweaty paw, pot lid clasped in the other. “More!” I de­manded as he fu­ri­ously fanned the lid, daub­ing paint en­er­get­i­cally. Ah, bliss­ful bouil­l­abaisse.

But the Bay of Plenty’s David Wort is the win­ner: The stu­dio was filled with the rich odour of Bril­liantine, and the op­u­lent musk of his Gras Chat af­ter­shave hung in the breath­less air like an in­vis­i­ble mist. Silken-fin­gered cos­meti­cians with rare unguents had charmed away rough years spent in the wilder­ness. Against the soft flat­tery of stu­dio light­ing, the king­maker’s smile shone like a thou­sand suns.

For the next con­test, send a brief poem in­clud­ing these words from Fun­nel by Anne Sex­ton: “The fam­ily story tells …” Rhyming is op­tional. En­tries close at noon on Novem­ber 9.

Sub­mis­sions: wordsworth@lis­tener.co.nz or Wordsworth, NZ Lis­tener, Pri­vate Bag 92512, Welles­ley St, Auck­land 1141. Please in­clude your ad­dress.

WIN BOOKS

Copies of The Lan­guage of Thorns, a com­pelling novel about race, iden­tity, fam­ily and se­crets, by Leigh Bar­dugo (Ha­chette, $34.99), and Jen­nifer Egan’s Man­hat­tan Beach (Ha­chette, $37.99).

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