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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.

glass rooster cover

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.”

Novelist and poet Helen Lowe was also kind enough to feature a Glass Rooster poem as one of her Tuesday poems, which you can read here.

If you’re interested in roosters (mostly glass), you might want to have a look at my Glass Rooster Pinterest page,  There is also a Glass Rooster cannery in Ohio which I may have to visit one day.

 

 

Year of falling small

And what about The Year of Falling?

A little busier, actually. The lovely Helen Lowe let my three narrators – Selina, Smith and Quilla – take over her blog for an interview recently.

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.”

Felicity Murray on the Booksellers blog said:

“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.

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:

Freegard_the-glass-rooster

‘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!

White face roborovski dwarf hamster

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>

 

 

 

 

 

spider web with fog droplets, San Francisco.

Image via Wikipedia

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.

'Bluebird' by Mary McIntyre

 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!

painting by Mary McIntyre

Here is an invitation to a book launch
Animalia Invitation

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.

The Second Wife

Splintered roots,
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!

Wordle

Wordle: janisfreegard.com

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