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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.
Another lovely walk through Pukaha/ Mt Bruce today. I also recommend you check out the collaborative birthday Tuesday poem