The Launch, the Chair, the Firewood

Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems 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.
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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!

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5 thoughts on “The Launch, the Chair, the Firewood

    • It is, isn’t it? Apparently Godwit pretty much gave Paula free rein. I love virtually every thing about it, including (especially!) the little place-ribbon. It’s just such a lovely, lovely thing. Inside and out.

    • And it makes such a difference, doesn’t it, when the whole production is so well thought out? Lovely design can’t make up for rubbish contents, but when both aspects are high quality it just makes the whole thing extra special. And very giftable!

  1. Lovely piece Joanna. I had a wonderful time at the event. Every poet was a treat to listen to and I loved the poems that you all picked ‘from any time any place’ — surprising, funny, warm, moving, entertaining. I must admit I have been in ‘cold’ training on Bethells Beach where the southerly whips the sand and foam into a volatile mix as you struggle into the head wind and then sail back home. Thermals essential!! I thought the Christchurch poets came to the occasion with such generosity and grace. Kia ora!

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