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I will be reading at an event in Lower Hutt on Friday evening. Here’s more:
Poems of Place; Landscape Poetry and Open Mic
We live in a land of hills, river and sea. We experience wild changes in our weather and our remoteness affects who we are as a people in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Much of our literature and poetry reflects our unique landscape. This National Poetry Day event held in Lower Hutt will feature writers reading their landscape poetry and reflecting on what this means for them. There will be an opportunity during the open mic for people to read their own or their favourite author’s poetry on the subject of nature, landscape and the environment. Everyone is welcome, poets, poetry-lovers and those interested in the local environment. Featuring the poets Anne Powell, Harvey Molloy, Kerry Hines, Keith Westwater, Tim Jones, Adrienne Jansen, Kerry Popplewell, Keith Johnson and Janis Freegard.
Entry Details: Free. Open to all ages. Sign up for the open mic on the night.
Date/Times: 28 August, 7.30 – 9.30pm.
Location: St Marks Complex 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt. Opposite the Lower Hutt Library
Further Info: www.facebook.com/events/667972266672138/
A number of people have kindly enquired as to the wellbeing of ‘The Year of Falling’ and ‘The Glass Rooster’, so I thought it might be time for an update. I do feel as though I have released hand-reared orphaned wild things out into the world to seek their fortunes and I’m very much hoping they don’t fall into a ravine or get eaten by bears.
So how’s The Glass Rooster?
Thank you for asking. He’s been somewhat elusive lately, but is no doubt striding about happily somewhere looking for hens to impress. There was a sighting on Beattie’s Book blog in June, where Elizabeth Morton gave the book a very nice review which starts:
“Grab your knapsack. Pack for all conditions. Janis Freegard wants to be your travel companion, and she has a cross-country junket in mind. ‘The Glass Rooster’ takes you through forests and oceans, deserts and space, all the while chaperoned by the eponymous bird who ‘was nothing if not well-travelled’. An unlikely tour guide, perhaps, but he will strut and call and pose for photographs like the best of them.”
And what about The Year of Falling?
There have also been some lovely reviews. Emma Bryson on Beattie’s Book Blog, said:
“Quirky, funny and inspiringly touching, Freegard has a knack for writing scenes which are painfully human. I watched as Selina’s life start to drift away from her, and screamed in frustration as she ‘reasoned’ her way into further trouble. And I became a silent observer (albeit slightly tearful) as the stoic Smith dealt with the heart-breaking complexities of losing a friend, raising a child, and caring for a sister.”
“This is a story of searching for one’s self, trying to identify and then hold onto the important things, and finding a place to call home whether it be a physical place, or simply in your own head and heart. There is hope, forgiveness, joy and love. It is a wonderful story, I very much enjoyed reading it. I really hope this book gets widely read and promoted, because it certainly deserves to.
And Catherine Roberston said in the NZ Listener: “…the pace and assuredness quickly increase, building layers of tension and pleasingly ambiguous characterisations that hold interest to the end.”
I’ve also had some very nice emails, texts, Tweets and Facebook messages from people saying they’re enjoying the novel or were up all night reading it, or they really like one of the characters, which is exactly what any writer loves to hear when wondering whether anyone will ever read the book you spent years fretting over.
Where can I buy them?
Indie bookstores like Unity Books (Wellington and Auckland), University bookshops, Page and Blackmore (Nelson), Almo’s Books in Carterton and some Paper Pluses (like the one in Coastlands on the Kapiti Coast). They’re also available directly from AUP and Makaro Press and online retailers like fishpond.
I was chuffed to see both books squeaked into the Indie Top 20 list for 20 June 2015, which means I am on a list with Patricia Grace, Kate Atkinson, Anne Enright, Atul Gawande, Helen MacDonald and other great writers.
Many thanks to everyone who’s bought, read or plans to read the books, who’s requested them from their local library, reviewed them, rated them on Goodreads or told me they enjoyed them. Makes it all worthwhile.
Is it just me, or does it feel like open season on NZ bookshops and writing at the moment? There’s an axe hanging over Te Papa Press, no NZ Book Month, no book awards, BNZ pulling out of the Katherine Mansfield Awards and now the demise of the Queen St Whitcoulls. And it’s all coming on the heels of ever-increasing bookshop closures. On Lambton Quay alone, we’ve lost Parsons, Dymocks, Paper Plus, that one at the end near the Beehive… Among Wellington’s second-hand bookshops, Quilter’s is gone and apparently Ferret’s too now. Where will it end? Online shopping is all very well, but there’s nothing quite like browsing in a bookshop: the smell of fresh pages, the feel of a spine… Thank goodness for Unity.
Oh look! I still have a blog! A sadly neglected blog. :(
These past few weeks, when I am not at my day job, I have been running very fast in my little hamster wheel getting two books ready for publication. This is the poetry collection with a great cover by Keely O’Shannessy:
‘The Glass Rooster’ is coming out in May, published by Auckland University Press. It’s arranged in eight sections (or ‘echo-systems’) which are a mix of natural ecosystems (deserts , the alpine zone) and other types of places (like cities and outer space). Each section is introduced by a triolet (a French poetic form with repeated lines) and the other poems are arranged in pairs, each echoing something about the other.
It also features a glass rooster – who appeared in my last AUP collection Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus. You can read sample poems here.
But wait – there’s more! Much of my hamster activity of late has involved The Year of Falling, a novel, which will also come out in May. It’s being published by Wellington-based Mākaro Press. More on this to come!
Photo By Sy (Own work) [<a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0″>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>], <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AWhite_face_roborovski_dwarf_hamster.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>
Thanks to poet Mary Cresswell, who has done a bit of sleuthing, I can add a postscript to my post about Poetry & Gender in NZ Publishing. Mary has looked at all the poetry books published in New Zealand over the 5 years 2008-2012 and noted which ethnicity the poets identify with, based mainly on their author/publisher webpages. So it may not be 100% accurate, but I think it’s a good estimate.
Apologies for the poor quality of the graph below – there’s a clearer version if you click on the link underneath it. What it shows is that, over the five year period, 90% of the poetry publishing pie went to Pākehā/European poets, 4% to Pasifika poets, 3% to Māori poets and 2% to Asian poets. Middle Eastern and African poets accounted for 0.4% of books respectively. When you compare this to proportions in the New Zealand population (70% Pākehā; 14% Māori; 11% Asian, 7% Pasifika and 1% Middle Eastern/Latin American/African – figures from Stats NZ Census 2013) it’s not looking very representative. I do think it’s important for a country’s literature to reflect the diversity of voices in its population.
In a comment on the ‘Poetry and Gender’ post, Tina Makereti said that her research for her PhD “also identified a lack of any real indigenous literary studies in New Zealand (no courses at tertiary level, limited commitment to indigenous literatures in high schools), and few Māori literature scholars. I think if the commitment were there from the universities, and Māori saw themselves represented in the study of literature, the numbers would increase.” So – universities, high schools, publishers – over to you!
PS: I should have mentioned that, as with the ‘Poetry & Gender’ data, the source for titles and authors, etc is The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Just a wee reminder that this is coming up next Tuesday. It’s for a good cause and everyone gets a 20% discount off the Recommended Retail Price on the night!
Date: Tuesday, 4th November
Time: 5.30 p.m.
Place: The Grand, 69 – 71 Courtenay Place (upstairs)
Here’s the list of contents and further information from the editors:
‘Sweet as’ is a typically New Zealand term meaning okay, cool, better than good, or even awesome. However, the stories in this collection are not all ‘sweet’ in the traditional sense. New Zealand is a country of light — both strong and bush-dappled — but it also has a dark side.
These short stories speak to us of the diverse world we live in. They take us on a journey, or offer a glimpse into another’s life. Some show the struggles, tough questions and challenging situations people face. Some stories are sweet or humorous, while others are quirky or just plain entertaining. They provide us with a snapshot of life in New Zealand and how New Zealanders experience life overseas.
For this collection, we sought contributions from New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. This gives a breadth of story lines — ‘sweet as’ in their variety and quality. Our aim was to continue one of New Zealand’s finest traditions: its strong culture of reading and writing, especially in the area of short fiction.
Links to more information:
eBook and book orders:
For more information email us at: SweetAsShortStories@gmail.com
I’m very excited to have a poem included in this fine anthology from Random House: Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (eds Siobhan Harvey, James Norcliffe & Harry Ricketts). It’s in a lovely-to-hold cloth binding and has a great range of NZ poets – from the well-known and well-loved (such as Fleur Adcock, Sam Hunt, Hone Tuwhare, James K Baxter, Jenny Bornholdt, Bill Manhire, Greg O’Brien and Janet Frame) to more recent poets like Chris Tse and Joan Fleming.
Any anthology is subjective and no doubt three different editors would have come up with a different selection. (Personally, I would have included Richard von Sturmer, Tim Jones, Helen Lehndorf and a bunch of others, but then again there’s no-one in the collection I’d want to leave out). Overall though, this feels pretty representative of New Zealand poetry as a whole, and New Zealand poets in general. And it’s good to see the smaller presses represented, like Headworx and Seraph Press. Well worth reading, I reckon!
I’m also very pleased to find myself rubbing shoulders with Bill Manhire on the Best American Poetry blog in a series about New Zealand poetry curated by Greg O’Brien. I’m looking forward to future instalments and seeing what Greg has to say about New Zealand poetry & poets.
Well, I’m one sixteenth Norwegian, so this lovely little church felt vaguely ancestral. It was built in 1881 on a hill in Mauriceville (near Eketahuna) by Norwegian settlers.
Also, I am being interviewed tomorrow morning on Carterton Connections, Arrow FM 92.7FM http://www.arrowfm.co.nz/programmes/show/21/carterton-connections/ 10am Friday 4 April 2014.