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Peter Clayworth, Ann-Marie Houng Lee & Redmer Yska with Robin Hyde
It was great day in Whanganui on Saturday (17th August, the day after National Poetry Day). The Sarjeant (which supported the event) was closed for earthquake checks but Element cafe kindly stepped in – very cool venue in an old bank building. Dr Mary Paul and Redmer Yska gave us some fascinating insights into Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson’s life and writing (including Redmer’s reading of her poem ‘The White Chair’), I read a few of her poems and a few of my own, and the legendary Glen Colquhoun rounded out the afternoon with a lively performance of poems dedicated to Iris. Despite all the shakiness of the day before, there was an impressive turnout of around 80 lovely people, some of whom had travelled from Palmerston North and Wellington to be there.
The event was the brain-child of Whanganui-based writer Ann-Marie Houng Lee who did a fantastic job of organising the event. She told me it was sparked by the Tuesday poem I posted (If you have linen women) a couple of months back. Worth checking out if you haven’t read it before.
This is a poem of mine that was originally published in the wonderful Blackmail Press. I wrote it after a visit to Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. Joseph Plunkett, one of the Irish rebels who took part in the 1916 rebellion (or “Easter Rising”), was executed hours after marrying his sweetheart, Grace Gifford.
Easter Rising (Joseph Plunkett, 1916), by Janis Freegard
The modern hunter-gatherer. Shopping trolley sculpture in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
A highlight of our recent trip to Edinburgh was the Scottish Poetry Library – a lovely tranquil space where you can while away the hours browsing the shelves, checking out the poetry magazines, buying the odd book, writing your own poetry or being impressed by the lovely little sculptures made out of books that have been anonymously appearing there. There were more to be found at the Writers Museum. Well worth a visits if you’re in Edinburgh and you like poetry (or little paper sculptures made out of books). Best to check the opening times first, if you’re planning to drop by. I gather there are other poetry libraries in London (South Bank Centre) and Morpeth, Northumberland (the Northern Poetry Library). Something else to look forward to exploring.
We were lucky to hit surprisingly mild weather – one or two frosty mornings, but mostly crisp and sunny. Perfect for walking about in if you’re well rugged up.
Last weekend, we were in Auckland for the Wire concert (originally a seventies UK punk band that has kept on playing and kept on making the albums – they were great). After a trip to the Auckland Art Gallery and an excellent brunch there, we took a ferry trip and spent Saturday afternoon strolling around sunny Devonport, exploring the bookshops and eating fish burgers and nachos at the Masonic Hotel. Perfect day. I was quite taken with the plaque above (in case you can’t read it, it says ‘On this site in 1897 nothing happened’) and the knitted hearts that someone has been sewing around the seats.
Just thought I would get in early to wish everyone all the best for a wonderful 2011.
Peter & I had a lovely time in Nelson over Christmas, visiting his family, catching the exhibitions at the Suter, hearing some very good blues by Storehouse at the Freehouse and hanging out at the McCashin’s Brewery in Stoke (winner of the ‘Keep New Zealand Beautiful Peoples Choice Best Place in New Zealand’ in 2010 – Stoke, not the brewery, although the brewery is a fine place offering comfy couches & decent coffee as well as a beer garden, shop & tasting place – Rochdale cider, Stoke beers and vodka made from a 26,000 year-old spring). We also took a day trip to the beautiful Nelson Lakes.
And in other news, the latest version of Auckland-based online journal Trout came out recently and I have 4 poems in it (The Tide Rises at Christchurch Art Gallery, Museum Piece, Hermit & Zot and the Axolotls). The last three will be coming out in my new book, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, due out from Auckland University Press in May 2011. Trout 16 also features Anna Jackson, Vivienne Plumb, Helen Rickerby, Richard von Sturmer, Sonia Yelich and many other great poets – well worth a browse.