I meant to post this last week, but Friday ended up being insanely busy, and the weekend not a lot better. Last Thursday night was the launch of Dear Heart at Ed Hopper Cafe and Bar. In typical Christchurch poetry event fashion, the weather was utterly vile. Sleet, wind, driving rain, and temperatures that refused to go above owarghmyunderwearhasfrozenowow. Paula Green had made the trek from Auckland for the launch, and all we had in our favour was that she went to Dunedin first, and hence was at least a little adjusted to the southern cold.
Despite the sleet, there was a really good turnout. A lot of new faces too, which was great. Standing room only, and even then you wouldn’t want to be standing near anyone who talked with their hands. I wish I’d taken a photo – the windows were steamed up and streaming, the sleet was making little paw-prints on the glass, and people were eating and drinking and talking and generally having a whale of a time. It was a beautiful thing. In theory we poets were meant to all be gathered in one place. In practice we were sitting, standing, leaning or lounging wherever we’d been able to wedge ourselves. Which made things interesting when we were meant to read. I was in one corner with Fiona Farrell and David Gregory, quite a long way from where Paula was introducing everyone. There was a brief discussion about trying to recreate a certain scene from Crocodile Dundee, but David went for the (comparatively) safer option of standing on his chair and booming across the room. (Think Kakapo, rather than canon.) (Umm, in terms of vocal carrying-power. Nothing else.) (Stop it.) When my turn came, I had a moment of internal debate about the wisdom of entrusting myself to wicker, and chose instead to stand on tip-toe with my back to the window, and rely on my theatre training to get the words across. The audience laughed in the right spots, so that counts as a win.
But nothing could match the laughter that Fiona got when she related the background to the poem she read: the glorious “The Castle”. If you were there, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and I apologise if I’ve caused an involuntary nasal lavage. If you weren’t there, then yes, you really did miss out. Let’s just say that we all learned a new way to win a fair maiden. And that firewood nicked from your ex does indeed do more than roses.
As someone said for all of us; Go Doug!
Hooray, it’s time for another book launch! This time it’s the Christchurch launch of Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems, which I blogged about back in September. Yes, I am one one-hundred-and-fiftieth of the book that has been the number one bestseller in the New Zealand Fiction lists for the past few weeks. Hooray again!
Editor Paula Green is flying down for the launch, and is in fact doing a bit of a tour of the centres launching the anthology – Wellington’s has been (I think), Auckland’s is not far away, then it’s Dunedin on June 12th and a final flourish in Christchurch on June 14th. We’re each reading our poem/s from the anthology, plus one other love poem from anywhere and anywhen. And because a celebration should be as wide-ranging as possible, a number of other Canterbury poets will also be joining us to read their favourite love poems. Books will be available for purchase, and contributors will be ready to sign copies. It’s going to be a lovely night. Come and join us!
When: 5. 30 pm, Thursday 14th June 2012
Where: Ed Hopper Café & Bar (formerly Technical Books)
The Windmill Centre, 184 Clarence St
It’s that time of year again – book launch season!
Christchurch writer Karen Zelas is launching her first novel, “Past Perfect”, at The Twisted Hop at 5.30 pm on May 3rd (Monday).
From the official blurb:
Past Perfect is a story of love and loss, prejudice and resolution, as well as the search for selfhood. Set in modern-day Christchurch, the backdrop of the 1840 French settlement of Akaroa, with its established Maori community, enriches this novel with the diversity and complexity that make up our past.
Prompted by a brush with mortality, her children approaching adulthood and the relationship with her husband being tested, Sue Spencer embarks on a search for meaning in her life, for a better sense of who she might be. Her quest takes her to Akaroa, to France and back, tracking her genealogy, but her discoveries are unexpected and place further pressure on strained family relationships.
Copies will be available at the launch for the special price of $25 (rrp is $29.99).
RSVP by April 26th to: k underscore zelas at ihug dot co dot nz.
It should be a good launch – the book itself sounds intriguing, and Karen is a very good writer (the current fiction editor for Takahe). Plus events at the Twisted Hop are always fun!
Saturday was the launch of the 2009 NZPS anthology, moments in the whirlwind. It was an interesting event, as always – a quite different segment of the poetry public to those you tend to see at other Canterbury poetry events. And a decent crowd too – probably a hundred or so people. Chairs were at such a premium that almost no-one went to the buffet until the very last minute …
The highlight for me is always the kids. The teenagers pretending nonchalance; the tweens who are so happy they bounce all the way to the mic; the little kids with their parents and assorted other relatives. There was one boy in particular who was basically a blond crew cut in a grey school uniform. We’re talking suit and enormous smile, and very little else visible. But he had a ball, and his parents were so proud they were very nearly levitating. It was great. And it was a scene that was repeated over and over.
The trick now is keeping these kids hooked on poetry. How many of them will be back next year? The year after? Ten years from now?
Last night I got my official invitation to the launch of Frankie McMillan’s first poetry collection, Dressing for the Cannibals. There were lots of inappropriate jokes about undressing, salad dressing, mustard, relish, etc etc. (David Gregory was there … sigh!)
Jokes aside, it should be a really good book. Frankie is routinely there-or-thereabouts in poetry competitions, and this year took out 1st place, a Highly Commended and a Commended in the NZPS international poetry competition. (Curses! Foiled again!) Her poems are usually witty and moving. While I won’t be reviewing the collection (she’s a friend), I’m hoping to do a close reading of one her poems from the book. Watch this space!
For those who can’t make it to the launch but would like a signed copy of the book, I’d be more than willing to act as your Poetry Proxy. Contact me off blog and we’ll arrange it. (Just call me your Poetry Addiction Enabler …)