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Thirty-one years ago today, Neil Roberts blew himself up outside the Wanganui Computer Centre. He left graffiti nearby that said: ‘We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity’ – a quote from the revolutionary Junta Tuitiva of La Paz, which fought against the Spanish for the freedom of Bolivia in 1809. Neil was a friend of mine and this is something I wrote after he died.
Poet Airini Beautrais has also been writing about her responses to Neil’s actions recently. Part of her long poem can be read on the Tuesday poem site and in the latest JAAM.
And still more on Neil – artist Ann Shelton has an outdoor art exhibition in Taranaki at the moment, “doublethink”, where she has recreated Neil’s graffiti using sparklers. You can see her photographs as a series of billboards in Midhirst, on the way between Stratford, where Neil was living, and Whanganui. Peter and I went to see it a few weeks ago. The pictures Peter took are below but you should also check out Ann Shelton’s website for the real deal.
More about Neil & the Wanganui Computer Centre:
Peter Clayworth, Ann-Marie Houng Lee & Redmer Yska with Robin Hyde
It was great day in Whanganui on Saturday (17th August, the day after National Poetry Day). The Sarjeant (which supported the event) was closed for earthquake checks but Element cafe kindly stepped in – very cool venue in an old bank building. Dr Mary Paul and Redmer Yska gave us some fascinating insights into Robin Hyde/Iris Wilkinson’s life and writing (including Redmer’s reading of her poem ‘The White Chair’), I read a few of her poems and a few of my own, and the legendary Glen Colquhoun rounded out the afternoon with a lively performance of poems dedicated to Iris. Despite all the shakiness of the day before, there was an impressive turnout of around 80 lovely people, some of whom had travelled from Palmerston North and Wellington to be there.
The event was the brain-child of Whanganui-based writer Ann-Marie Houng Lee who did a fantastic job of organising the event. She told me it was sparked by the Tuesday poem I posted (If you have linen women) a couple of months back. Worth checking out if you haven’t read it before.
PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE FOR WHANGANUI EVENT. THE SARJEANT GALLERY IS CLOSED BECAUSE OF THE EARTHQUAKES SO ELEMENTS CAFE, 26 VICTORIA ST, HAVE KINDLY AGREED TO HOST.
I have a couple of readings coming up that I’m very excited about. The first is at the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui, part of a celebration of Robin Hyde‘s work, in association with National Poetry Day (although it will actually be the day after National Poetry Day).
Weds 21st August 8pm
Circadian Rhythm cafe