Fancy some Brooklyn-inspired writing? Next Friday 25th November 2016, I will be reading from ‘The Year of Falling’ along with the excellent Maggie Rainey-Smith and the fantastic Jenny Bornholdt at the Brooklyn Deli (199-201 Ohiro Rd, Brooklyn, Wellington, NZ). There will be music from Wellington band The Brooklyns and wine & food from the Deli. Hope to see you there!

 

This Saturday, I’ll be at LitCrawl. If you’re in Wellies, you should be too.

I shall be reading at Hashigo Zake 25 Taranaki St at 6pm with the stunning line-up of Chris Tse, Gem Wilder and Emma Barnes.

Here’s our blurb:

When you write from a minority perspective, whether it’s your sexuality, your gender, your mental health or something else about you, there’s an expectation you’ll perform those parts of yourself.

We choose what parts of ourselves we offer, reveal and share. We decide what we gift of ourselves to the audience. We’re not just queer writers. We’re writers. We’re not just genderqueer writers. We’re writers. We’re not just mentally ill writers. We’re writers. We’re all of these things and none of them. Come along to hear some writing loosely organised along non-heterosexual lines across genders and experiences.  We’re wrapping up ourselves as gifts and we’ll rip the paper too.

Featuring Chris Tse, Janis Freegard, Gem Wilder and Emma Barnes.

There are rumours  that at least one cape may be involved and I can neither confirm nor deny the possibility of a hat. But hey, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are are many other exciting LitCrawl options to choose from and you can read all about them here:

http://www.litcrawl.co.nz/litcrawl.html

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The first day we drank orange juice at Frankfurt airport and found our way to the right terminal and a bus took us to our plane which seemed to be miles away and then the plane taxied for so long we joked that they were driving us to Stuttgart, then there was a forty minute flight and Julian and Ingrid met us at the airport and we got lost on the way home but we were happy to be lost in Germany and then we met Ingrid’s mother, Rosa, at their house in Schechingen and we all ate cheese and Brezeln and Leberwurst and yoghurt and drank coffee and in the afternoon we rested and then walked to the local supermarket and Julian went off to the youth camp he was helping with and in the evening we ate chicken and I was asleep by eight o’clock.

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The second day we picked apples off the ground in Ingrid’s garden and peeled them and cut out the brown bits and the bits where the insects lived and we gathered wood in a wheelbarrow and set the grill from the swing frame and moved the concrete blocks under it to make a kind of barbecue and we baked the apples into a Torte and bought many varieties of Wurst from the Metzgerei and many types of Brötchen from the Bäckerei and people came to Ingrid’s garden where there was music and singing and we had a party and a lovely time and that was the end of the second day.

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The third day we woke at five am and went wandering and saw corn fields and crows and slugs and wheat and a hot air balloon and we said Guten Morgen to cyclists and walkers and when we got back we made coffee and Fredy bought a huge quantity of bread rolls and cheese and egg salad and cold meats and Ingrid boiled some eggs and we had another feast and Rosa sang a folk song about Tirol which is where Patrick (Julian’s brother) was travelling with his girlfriend and later we bought more food and beer and wine from a supermarket that had New Zealand wine on offer, then we went for a walk via the cemetery where Ingrid’s dad is buried and saw where some new houses are being built and it was hot, hot, hot so we came back and in the evening we went to the local Scheunenfest and ate Salzkuchen which is a little like pizza and drank Pils and Weizen and listened to the oompah band which Ingrid’s mother loved and you haven’t been to Germany until you’ve heard an Abba medley by an oompah band at the local barn festival.

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The fourth day I was sick, having caught Peter’s cold but I didn’t want to miss out on a trip to Schwäbisch Gmünd so while Ingrid and Fredy and Rosa went to the Münster for the Sunday Catholic service, Peter and I looked around the town and took a million photos and had coffee and Pfirsichnektar with Ingrid and Peter and then we came home and Ingrid made me herbal tea from what looked like linden leaves and a chrysanthemum head and I slept and slept and read The  Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window And Disappeared and later I got up and der Fredy made a delicious soup and Ingrid lit a fire in the A-frame woodburner in the lounge and then it was time for bed.

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On the fifth day I was greatly recovered, perhaps because of Ingrid’s herbal tea and Peter and I made breakfast for ourselves and Rosa, and we put some washing on, then Peter and I went for a walk to the edge of town past a barn that was full of cows, with swallows flitting in and out, and we were out in the countryside very quickly and saw the fire station and we bought postcards and juice (Bananensaft and Apfelsaft) at the supermarket, then Ingrid came home from work and we visited the Rathaus together, then Ingrid made a salad and heated up some soup and our washing dried quickly and we took Ingrid’s mother to her home nearby that she shares with Ingrid’s sister and her Mann and we went for a drive with Ingrid to Eschach to see her mechanic about an oil leak and discovered her car was running on three cylinders and we called in at a supermarket where an eccentric Italian man showed us his customised bicycle and after we came home, we went for a long walk on the St Jacob’s pilgrimage (Besinnung am Jakobsweg) and saw the Schechingen-Klotzhöfe and another hot air balloon and came back and made pasta for tea and drank rosé (me) and Bier (Peter).

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On the sixth day, Peter and I bought bread rolls and Brezeln from the Bäckerei and felt brave for buying things in German and ate them with cucumber and the cheese and cold meats that Fredy’d bought earlier and then we read and wrote and Ingrid came home from work and we collected more apples and Fredy took us all to Schwäbisch Gmünd and Peter bought us coffee and cake at the same place as last time then we went to Stuttgart and walked through der Schlossgarten and saw lots of construction and the Fest being set up and the huge Schloss and heard buskers and met Patrick and Anja and Fredy shouted us a delicious meal at a Schwäbisch restaurant (Der Buschpilot) where I ate Linsen (lentils) mit Spätzle (noodles) and Wurst and Salat and drank Wulle (a type of beer)  and we walked back through the gardens to Patrick and Anja’s where I used their Internet (because Ingrid’s wasn’t working) to check in for our Ryan Air flights and it was a relief to finally have boarding passes but it took ages and everyone was falling asleep and Fredy drove us home and it was after midnight and we saw from the guitar in the hall that Julian was back from his camp.

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On the seventh day, Peter and I bought bread and cheese and salmon from the little supermarket and I got Briefmarken for my Postkarten and Peter and I sat and wrote the postcards out at Ingrid’s outside table and we went to look at the Schechingen church which was stunning inside and Rosa came back and Julian woke up, which meant I lost the bet with Peter (which was a kiss) because I said Julian would have risen early to go cycling and would already be halfway to Bremen by then and Ingrid came home and Peter and I went with her to visit the man with Parkinson’s she goes walking with once a week and we all walked together then played a memory game with picture cards and Peter and I learnt some German words and in the evening Julian took us to see Ian, his dad, who made us curried sausages and we drank beer and back at home we had wine with Ingrid and Julian and they gave us Hirschbräu T-shirts and we saw der Igel (the hedgehog Ingrid feeds each night) and were sad to be going.

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And on the eighth day we flew to Manchester.

Waiting for the bus tour…

So, this is where I’ll be on the shortest day of the year:

NFFD

Dear Jeanette Winterson, I should really stop reading your books because sometimes I happen on that one perfect sentence that floors me and I can’t read on. A good simile can cause me to well up like a – um – well in a flood and I have to put the book down and lie quietly in a darkened room for a bit. At that point, I tell myself I’ll never write again, why bother, I’ll just stop now, because I could write all my life and never write something one tenth as good as that simile, so I might as well just wallow in my welling which is as much about feeling sorry for myself as it is about appreciating the beauty of a good phrase. I’m that shallow.

Dear Jeanette Winterson, sometimes all I read is one paragraph and then I sigh and put the book down. Sometimes I can only manage the first sentence. I have read the first paragraph of ‘The 24 hour dog’ at least a dozen times. I have read “He was soft as rainwater” (it’s not the same when I type it) a hundred. It’s better in the book. I have to read it in the book.

Dear Jeanette Winterson, I promise I am not deranged. At least no more than most people. I have a perfectly normal life involving a day job, a partner, a cat and a rough approximation of something that bears a slight similarity to a writing career. My offerings however are as mud next to your polished diamonds. (Or maybe not diamonds, on account of the dodgy labour practices, maybe rubies. Do you like rubies, Jeannette Winterson? Not that I’m planning to get you any.)

Dear Jeanette Winterson, I saw you at a literary festival in Dublin years ago where you were warm, engaging and entertaining. There was a book-signing queue afterwards, but there was no way I could have joined it. It’s true I tend to come across like a grinning idiot when meeting authors I admire, but that doesn’t usually stop me. I still haven’t decided about the queue at the forthcoming Auckland Writers Festival. I’ll just have to see how I go.

Dear Jeanette Winterson, I would happily buy your next note to the electricity company, should you choose to publish it. I am pleased I live on the same planet as you. Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times for all the words.

 

Reposting this in memory of the Easter Rising, 100 years ago.

Janis Freegard's Weblog

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.

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Easter Rising (Joseph Plunkett, 1916), by Janis Freegard

 
they blindfolded him
our guide explains
for the benefit of the soldiers
(six standing, six kneeling)
so they wouldn’t see his eyes
when they shot him –
a piece of white paper
marking his heart
 
the day before, he’d married
in Kilmainham Gaol –
the proposal’s on display
You will marry me and no-one else
he’d written to his Grace
I’ve been a blind fool
 

Cross marking the place of execution of the le...

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I couldn’t help myself. I had to go through the fiction list as well. Then the non-fiction. And what an interesting result. The 2014 list of New Zealand books (the latest available from the Journal of Commonwealth Literature’s annual round-up) shows that 44 (or 59%) of the 75 New Zealand fiction titles published in 2014 were written by women, significantly more than those written by men (who wrote 31 fiction titles, or 41%).  If you take out children’s and young adult fiction, the gap narrows somewhat, with 56% of adult titles written by women and 44% by men.

I wondered if chaps were more likely to tackle non-fiction and this does indeed seem to be the case, with all 11 non-fiction books in 2014 having been written by men . It’s a little different when you add in Letters & Autobiography and Drama (see charts below).  And if you look at the whole lot together, ie all titles excluding poetry, it was very even, with 50% by men, 49% by women and 1% by both (ie multiple authors).

2014 non-fiction + fiction titles %

2014 non-fiction + fiction titles number

 

Ethnicity is a very different story. I only looked at fiction for this. A massive 88% of fiction titles were by Pakeha authors, 7% by Maori authors (better than I was expecting but still less than the proportion of Maori in the population) and 5% by Asian/Indian writers. No Pacific writers had fiction published in 2014. Not one.

2014 fiction titles

 

The usual disclaimers apply – for source and methodology, please see my blog on poetry titles .

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