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Ben Kemp
New Zealand

Ben Kemp has benn published widely in New Zealand. After graduating from Otago University, he lived in Tokyo for two and a half years. Ben spent much time absorbing traditional art and culture.

On return to the North Island, Ben discovered a special mentor-student relationship with Rowley Habib, one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent Maori writers. It was at this point that Ben’s creative work anchored itself.

Responding to a magnetic pull back to Japan, Ben returned to Tokyo in 2002. Ben played on the street in Shimokitazawa, well known for its vibrant music scene. He soon met up with talented musician Koyu Suzuki and the duo began performing around Tokyo (including some of Tokyo's most prestigious live venues, such as JZ Brat and Mandala2).

His debut album River Mouth was released in early 2005, followed up in 2006 by Papatu Road. Ben has recently released his third album Inside Of An Uncut Apple.

check out more of Ben @

Enigmatic blue on a weekly basis Andy Leleisi'uao
Enigmatic blue on a weekly basis - Andy Leleisi'uao
A Poem with Mr Walt Whitman in mind…

Salt my song…

In the shallow of a valley that would come to pass,

with the smell of the far away coast lifting my nostrils to the horizon,

traveling birds

…I am no longer here,

The clouds, the milk of my young eyes,

at the table chewing gum,

fostering my backyard of mental junk,

the soul, & loose bicycle chains,

the rubber tires & inner tubes, endless loops of thinking,

I saw a man, a farmer carved from marble,

his hands shaped so fine,

through mud & an eel laden stream he stepped,

carrying the hardware of his engine,

blinking eyes, like a tap running & a verse undivided, yet to be sung,

the fences, penning boundaries & clenching teeth to

warn off the others,

‘others’ their memories strapped to their backs,

onward into the deeper valley,

their noses to the clouds, scenting the waves & the redemption of the sea.

Perched on the fence post, where it plateaued,

like the forehead of the hill lying down,

I imagined, then I saw a owl in daylight,

I shuddered…

On the opposite slope the winds ripped through,

picking up loose hitchhikers & skidding through grass tops,

I heard the song of a 10,000 piece orchestra with no sheet music or conductor,

with molecules for instruments and voices,

Salt of my song…

I centered myself, approximately in the middle of the paddock,

Opened my mouth & expunged my lungs of all anxiety,

the grass momentarily engulfed me, then receded to tickle my feet,

the mud giggling through my toes,

I asked for the reasons of hardship, for me & my brother & sisters,

the river running a steady pulse, 200 yards from the origin of my inquiry,

the river rose from it’s back & the sky stepped down from it’s ladder.

They shuffled in on either side of me & placed their finger tips upon

the temples of my head, one finger on either side,

I wept at the depth of their love, & they smiled.

At the edge of the property was an old abandoned shack,

the wood eaten by age,

but within was a palace adorned with every jewel & known mastery of craftsmanship,

I traveled to the edge of the farm, 34 years it took me to arrive,

forever departing, departing, day after day,

On my arrival I was welcomed with acute silence,

an unprecedented celebration with no band, people or sentiment,

Just clarity…

Salt of my song…

How would the sea look? Dressed in cloaks & fine jewelery,

Pin stripped red trousers & yellow-ed diamonds hanging form its limbs,

I’m not sure if the creatures within would stand for it,

Mocking and murmuring for the old clothes to be worn again,

“bring the ancestors back!” They would shout I’m sure,

…blue-nothing she wore,

At the west side, where winter is,

the snow is translucent & sweet to taste,

I journeyed there at the age of 11 and found the nicest old man, & a little old woman,

bent over backwards like the ‘U’ at the bottom of a drain pipe,

they were carrying snow from one side of the field to the other,

smoothing out the creases, ensuring the brightness & air within remained,

I understand the purpose of their work,

‘Purpose’ is just one grain of sand…surrender,

the river is so beautiful,

embroided with willow trees & intricately shaped banks, like pottery,

the craftsman gently pressing fingers into the side, just above the hip bone,

the water, each atom with knapsack slung over shoulder,

filled with books & millions of songs, poems & anecdotes of wisdom,

I wish I could step inside & press shoulders,

I am waiting to be a river,

I yearn sometimes…

I am drawn, stretched out like leather over a drum,

trying to remove my feet from this soil,

The clouds overhead like canopies of gloom, & real restriction,

There is no tributary to carry me,

no root stock or trunk to feed the leaves, & my branches,

Whispering below the decibels, were purity is not here or there,

but ‘nothingness in me, brother’

Underground are the ancestors lined up in single file,

feathers in their hair, with paintbrushes for fingers & flutes for mouths,

In the darkness, that is there light they are whole,

Yet the line they form is for me,

carrying the burden of my impatience, they vent it.

I often pierce my hands through the earth, arms dug deep,

Softer in the tractor tracks, we touch hands.

The movements in hand, saying we love each other…

The north-eastern tip is the desert,

I hitched a ride on that wind blowing orchestra,

& I found a well,

My consciousness, & perfect white sunlight on a vast bed of sand…

The well was filled with embers, breathing smoke,

I sat for days contemplating its meaning to me,

these loose & odd snippets,

Why burn? Why burn?

Covering the entire property, just 1 inch from its surface is a clear film unseen to the eye,

I have speculated its presence,

For a matter of seconds only when light are darkness are side by side,

elongated shadows & settling birds,

I have glimpsed it, peering backstage through the burgundy curtain,

The seam & the supporting beam of…

And who I have passed on my travels?

A teacher,

A man thrashing himself with guilt,

1 soul who pulled entire landscapes from his lips, & the darkness between,

A businessman and a blond haired school boy,

A traveler with 13 typewriters, 3 working and the rest…well just sentimentality really,

A sports person pushing his walls out,

An aging young man who sat me down, plastered me with words, labels and posters,

then left,

A baby,

A clerk with every instrument of art strapped to his body,

A walking shell,

& Someone, like a ghost that I have never seen but always felt.

Salt my song…

I have to love you,

& this farm land upon which I live,

I evolve here,

One day I will journey to the sea,

become that river & dissolve into the essence of I.


telephone poles & capital letters huddle,

Carrying messages - limping along these atoms,

& the diddy I stop to pat.

These bikes, 2 circular spheres, the 2 rotating orbits in conjunction

& godly spokes…air & the hissing sound your death makes.

Listening for an aerial - & inside them, the holiest.

Corporations & bent spoons,

taking you somewhere & nowhere at the cost of your breath.

The air conditioners split molecules & divide up the song sheets,

While the extractor fans whittle away at the conductor’s baton.


The train stammers,

like ballerina feet trapped inside the welders steel toe boots,

a dehydration only stones know.


My urban guitar I found in a crevice,

The strings, electrical wires & frayed hairs, grey…

The body was shaped from wild & grizzly wood,

Chiseled door knobs,

& the t-bones, sausages & mutton flaps from forgotten animals.


The roads are all clipped & stuffed into plastic bags too small.


From inside the white room,

I hear a muffled voice,

A crimson curtain is on the front wall,

& on the 2 side walls are 2 open windows,

There is no back wall I know, but I can’t turn around and walk away. 


Louis Vuitton is imprinted on the backs of dogs,

with the swish of grotty perfumes,

They have erased their bones & blue prints to leave only…


The radio rattles out a tune,

This Saturday night’s fox trot with talking shoes & a secret that no one would dare tell.

I’m sure I hear a soul.