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A quick update on Alice:
Alice Spider is a character who’s been haunting my poetry since I was about eighteen. She’s appeared in prose poem sequences in Turbine and AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press) and danced her way through JAAM 28. Now Alice has infiltrated the latest issue of Anomalous Press, alongside many entertaining international writers. Anomalous Press offers audio alongside its text. Downloadable versions are coming soon, but in the meantime, it’s all online.
Last year, I posted about a little survey I’d undertaken of publishers’ websites. I looked at the gender of poets published in 2009 by AUP, VUP, Steele Roberts, Seraph Press, Earl of Seacliffe Workshop, Cape Catley, Titus Books and OUP (the ones that sprang to mind). I was interested to discover that, of the 31 books I found, 18 (58%) were by women and 13 (42%) by men.
Well. Subsequently, I discovered that the Journal of Commonwealth Literature very conveniently publishes (amongst other things) an annual round-up of all the poetry books published in New Zealand during the year. This included publishers I hadn’t been aware of at the time, such as Soapbox Press. Thanks to the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, I was able to get a much fuller picture.
The real balance was the opposite to what I’d found: of 74 poetry books published in 2009, 42 (57%) were by men and 32 (43%) were by women. Most of the presses I’d inadvertently excluded were small presses publishing one or two volumes apiece. However, one publisher (Kilmog Press, which makes truly beautiful handmade books) published 12 volumes in 2009 – surpassing all other publishers on the list, for which they are to be commended. Only one of these books was by a woman, though, which skewed the results significantly. (Maybe Kilmog Press will have an entirely different profile for 2010, but the results aren’t available yet, so we will just have to wait and see.)
Focusing on the three major poetry publishers in New Zealand (with 8 books apiece): Auckland University Press and Victoria University Press each published 5 women and 3 men; and Steele Roberts had 4 of each.
So how does all this stack up against the previous year? 2008 looks a little different for the big three: AUP published 2 women and 6 men, Steele Roberts 5 women and 7 men; VUP 3 of each. But if those two years are typical, the gender balance looks as though it might even out over time.
The other publisher with significant numbers in 2008 was the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop (1 woman, 4 men), followed by Headworx (1 woman, 2 men & 1 joint publication by a woman and a man); Original Books (2 of each) and Soapbox Press (1 woman, 3 men). The grand total for 2008 was 32 books by women (36%) and 55 by men (63%), with the remaining 1% the joint publication (by Meg Campbell and Alistair Te Ariki Campbell).
What can we conclude from this? Female poets are well represented overall with the major publishers; male poets seem somewhat over-represented with the smaller presses. Is this because small presses are more likely to be run by men, who prefer poetry by men? Are men more confident about putting together a collection and submitting it? Are women more likely to do MAs in Creative Writing* and therefore more likely to approach a university press? Who knows. You can expect another exciting instalment of this next time I get my spreadsheets going.
* I rather think they are, which raises another interesting question – why? Do male poets think they know it all already? Are female poets more open to the idea that they might still have a lot to learn? Are men more likely to take the alternative, small press route? I think there’s a thesis in here somewhere and if someone would like to pay my mortgage for the next few years, I’d be happy to take it on….
My poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus, is now officially available. If you’re in Wellington, I’d love to see you at the launch this Wednesday:
Venue: the Terrace Bar, upstairs at the Garden Club (13 Dixon St, Wellington, just around the corner from the reverse bungy on Taranaki St, next to Subway, used to be Wellington Repertory Theatre)
Date: Wednesday 4 May 2011
Time: 5:30pm to 7:00 pm (reading at 6ish)
Featuring Animal Biscuits, Cheese Straws and Various Beverages
You are kindly invited to wear an Animal Mask or Similar (Not Compulsory).
All welcome. Bring your friends.
Here’s what it says about the book on the AUP website:
Kingdom Animalia is a collection of poems that explore the various interactions between human beings and other animals, but also deals with wider subjects: love and loss, evolution and conservation, sex and death. The poems, which involve animals, as main subject or as passing guests, are arranged according to the six classes devised by eighteenth-century naturalist Carl Linnaeus, whose life’s mission was to classify the natural world. Modern taxonomy has evolved considerably but this standardised naming system is still a common language for classifying the natural world. The sections are linked by a prose poem about Linnaeus’ life.
ISBN 978 1 86940 473 4, 210 x 148mm, paperback, 88p, $24.99| order this book
Isn’t the cover stunning? I feel very lucky. The painting is by Mary McIntyre (photograph by Jacqui Blanchard) and the design is by Jacinda Torrance. Last year I saw a companion painting (same figure – the artist’s granddaughter – in the same garden, but in a different pose) called ‘Family Life, Puriri Drive’ by Mary McIntyre at the Portrait Gallery in Wellington and thought to myself, wouldn’t that make the perfect cover for Kingdom Animalia? The following week, Anna Hodge from AUP emailed me the draft cover with ‘Bluebird’ on it. Spookily serendipitous.
I have added a ‘Kingdom Animalia’ page to this blog, which includes a species list (using modern taxonomy rather than Linnaeus’ system) of all the animals in the book. I’m struggling a bit with the formatting, so please bear with me while I get it sorted. (I do realise most people don’t get as excited about species lists as I do.)
I will be posting more about Linnaeus and notes about the poems in the book as I go. Hope to see you at the launch!
Here is an invitation to a book launch
You will notice (if you click on the link) that the invitation is upside down. No amount of rotating it and saving it will make it appear upright. You’ll just have to stand on your head. I have also failed to insert it into the post properly; all I can manage is the link. C’est la vie. Please come anyway.
This is what it says:
Janis Freegard hereby requests the Pleasure of Your Company at an
Exciting Social Event on the occasion of the
Launch of her Poetry Book entitled
Kingdom Animalia: the Escapades of Linnaeus
published by Auckland University Press
Venue: the Terrace Bar at the Garden Club (13 Dixon St, Wellington,
just around the corner from Taranaki St, next to Subway)
Date: Wednesday 4 May 2011
Time: 5:30pm to 7:00 pm
There will be Animal Biscuits, Cheese Straws and Alcoholic Beverages for your Delectation and Delight. You are kindly invited to wear a Mask (although this is Not Compulsory). All welcome. Do tell your friends.
new roots and
shadows cast on past lives.
But shadows don’t erase
they just conceal and feed
the knot at the back of his head.
Strings across land and sea
tied to the feet of his first wife,
the new bride poised with scissors.
Chris Tse is a Wellington poet and one of three authors of the joint publication AUP New Poets 4 (Auckland University Press). Chris’ collection in the book, Sing Joe, is centred around family stories concerning his great grandfather’s migration to New Zealand from China, and his great grandmother who was left behind. The poem above gives us one peek into this story. You’ll need to read Sing Joe in its entirety to find out the rest – and it’s well worth the read.
As well as writing, Chris is an editor, actor, musician and occasional filmmaker. He studied English literature and film at Victoria University where he also completed an MA in Creative Writing. In 2009, he won the NZ Chinese Association/Listener short story competition.
Happy Birthday Tuesday Poem
The Tuesday Poem bloggers are celebrating our first birthday this week (thanks to the tireless efforts of Mary McCallum), by writing a collaborative poem. You can watch it unfold by clicking on the quill above.
AUP New Poets 4 will be out soon, featuring Harry Jones, Erin Scudder & Chris Tse (published by Auckland University Press). I don’t know the other two poets, but I was in a poetry workshop with Chris Tse a few years ago and he’s very good.
It will be launched at Te Taratara ā Kae in Victoria University’s Rankine Brown Library on 17th March 5pm – 7pm.
Here is a link to the event on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186779171356102
and here’s a description of the contents:
“This fourth in AUP’s New Poets series includes three very different voices. Chris Tse’s work draws fascinatingly on his family history and Chinese heritage. His selection, ‘Sing Joe’, includes narrative poems about his great-grandparents’ emigration to New Zealand and about his own childhood and his research to uncover their story. Erin Scudder writes sophisticated, dark and flavoursome poetry with close attention to the sound and shape of words. In its treatment of motive and emotion her work feels at once personal and universal, specific yet interested in archetypes and tropes. Harry Jones writes accomplished, elegant, formally adept work. He has a flair for the gorgeous lyric, but his selection, ‘Beyond Hinuera’, also has a subtle range. Together the work of these three writers feels substantial and pleasingly distinct.”
The series is a great way to get to know the work of new poets, three at a time. I was in AUP New Poets 3 with Katherine Liddy and Reihana Robinson; Volume 2 featured Stu Bagby, Sonia Yelich and Jane Gardner; and Volume 1 had Raewyn Alexander, Anna Jackson and Sarah Quigley. Here’s to the next volume!