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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!
Well, I’m very happy to say that The Year of Falling is being made into an e-book, thanks to Rosa Mira Books, fine e-publishers of such titles as Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, which includes my short story, ‘Mill’.
To celebrate this, I shall be partaking in a quiet glass of bubbly at the Library Bar on Courtenay Place next Monday and it would be lovely if you could join me (clink clink!)
Monday 21st September 6pm – 8pm
Upstairs, 53 Courtenay Place, Wellington
Also, I was delighted to have two very nice reviews of TYOF last weekend. Siobhan Harvey, writing in the Dominion Post, said:
“Richly peopled and companioned by an absorbing plot, Janis Freegard’s The Year of Falling is a superb first foray into novel writing.” (full review on Stuff here)
and David Hill, in the NZ Herald said:
“Freegard controls a substantial cast adroitly, and makes you care about each one of them, even loathsome Randall and bubble-brained Bailey.” (full review on NZ Herald site here).
Feeling all fluffed up after that.
Recently some of my Alice Spider poems were chosen to be part of an excellent online anthology about Pukehau/Mt Cook. The poems were first published in the online journal Turbine in 2002 and reprinted in AUP New Poets 3 in 2008. This got me thinking about the various Mt Cook flats I lived in, back when I was in my twenties.
In 1985, I flatted in a two-storey house in Rugby Street by the Basin Reserve with three other people – different people at different times. There were parties. There were squabbles over who had burnt out the element in the jug. There was meatloaf, an alphabetised record collection and a weekly gathering around the television to watch Dallas. German journeymen would occasionally appear on the couch. A three-legged cat we called Tripod would wander in for a pat. One flatmate made great homemade Irish cream (similar to Bailey’s); another had a terrific recipe for marinated raw fish. A flatmate who cleaned for a law firm occasionally liberated a nice bottle of wine from the partners’ stash and brought it home to share.
Some years later, I was disappointed to learn our house had been bowled – along with three other perfectly good, sound houses – to make way for a Repco Autoparts store. Every time I walked past, I felt like pasting up a photo of the old place that said ‘LOST: Have you seen this house?’
My second time in Mt Cook came a few years later – a flat in Hankey Street with two other women. One stormy evening, a friend brought a kitten around, wrapped in her raincoat. She’d found him, apparently abandoned and half-starved, near the dairy. She already had cats of her own and couldn’t take in another. I hadn’t planned to get a cat, thinking I moved around too much, but I couldn’t resist this tiny, shivering, flea-infested bundle. My flatmate had spotted him previously but he was wary of people and she hadn’t been able to catch him. Now he was close to giving up.
I took him to the vet the next morning in a cardboard box that said Whole Baby Beans and Whole Baby Carrots. ‘Snatched from the jaws of death,’ the vet proclaimed, before pumping him full of antibiotics and offering a 50:50 chance of survival. He told me to keep the kitten warm and give him baby food. I took him to work in his little box (the kitten, not the vet), stopping at a pharmacy on the way for tinned baby food, Bone-Gro and a hot water bottle shaped like a cat. He spent the day under my desk at the Department of Conservation, good as gold, climbing out to eat his meals and back in again where his hot bottle water kept him warm. Workmates who might normally have taken a dim view of cats popped around during the day to see how he was getting along.
Over the next few weeks, he struggled back to health. I called him Spike. We lived together for nineteen years and I loved him.
The third time I lived in Mt Cook was in a flat in a block of four in Anderson Terrace. This time it was just me and Spike, my first time living (almost) alone. The only part I didn’t enjoy about being there was that my next-door neighbour worked shifts and I routinely woke up at 2 am when I heard his car.
Later, Spike and I moved to Mt Vic, then Berhampore and finally Vogeltown, where I promised him he’d never have to move again. He’s buried in the garden. I still miss him.
So, yesterday I was interviewed (live – eek!) by the lovely Lynn Freeman on National Radio about The Year of Falling and The Glass Rooster and here is a podcast link in case you’d like to listen to it.
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.
Yes, I brought a few books with me (this isn’t all of them).
Also, I am the editor of this week’s Tuesday poem and have chosen a wonderful tuatara poem by Nola Borrell who is also in residence at New Pacific Studio at the moment.
Later this month, I’ll be the guest reader at the NZ Poetry Society in Wellington. It’s upstairs at the Thistle Inn (in Thorndon, opposite Archives NZ; you know, the oldest pub in Wellington where Te Rauparaha was rumoured to paddle his waka up to the front door before the coastline changed forever and where Katherine Mansfield used to hang out; no, not the one up the top of Cuba St, that’s Thistle Hall, this is the Thistle Inn) and there’ll be an open mic to start. Hope to see you there!
NZPS: Poets’ Corner
Monday 17th February, 7.30pm
Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Central Wellington
Open mic – all welcome to participate. NZPS welcomes new poets as well as those with more experience. Guest Poet for February: Janis Freegard.
And I’m pretty chuffed at the moment because one of my poems was commended in the Magma Poetry competition.
The phone rang: it was God.
We’re doing some market research, he said. How do you find earth, these days? Somewhere between Venus and Mars, I said, ha ha. No, really, he said. Well, I told him, we liked your original concept but we’ve workshopped it into something sexier, more happening, more 21st century. We’ve eaten most of the fish, cleared an impressive amount of forest and I’m afraid some species proved insufficiently competitive for the global economy. I liked it how it was, said God. That’s all very well, I said, but Progress, you know – can’t stand in the way. You lot won’t be happy until you’ve used up all the good bits and moved on to the next planet in some kind of galactic Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, he said. He sounded sad, so I hung up.
The phone rang: it was Janis Joplin.
You’re dead, I said. And it’s half past three in the morning. What do you want? It gets boring on the other side, she said. Sometimes we just dial numbers at random to find some-one to talk to; I died before my time. Tell it to Elvis, I told her. And I hung up.
The phone rang: it was Truth and Beauty, on a conference call.
Which of us do you prefer? they queried. Do you want the honest answer? I asked. Or one that’s exquisitely phrased? While they argued, I hung up.
The phone rang: it was Zippy the Pinhead.
Are we having fun yet? I asked him. I won’t ever put anchovies in the toaster again, he replied. I’m trapped in a black hole with Mozart’s miso soup. Thousands of orange polyester suits have invaded my brain. He started making sense, so I hung up.
The phone rang: it was Death.
Wrong number, I said. And I hung up.
The phone rang: it was me.
Now what’s going on here? I asked. Am I trapped in an existential paradox? Are you the past me, the future me, or an alternate universe me? Are you my conscience, the inner me, the me I’d like to be or some kind of all-knowing über-me? I just called to say hi, I said. And I hung up.
The phone rang: it was Hecate, Goddess of the Night.
All hail, Old Witch, I said. You’re at a crossroads, she told me. Which path do you take? Well, I said, the earth is more or less spherical, so whichever way you go, eventually you’ll end up back where you started. It’s the journey that counts, she cackled. Put down that phone and get travelling. And she hung up.