Last year every single book I picked to win a Montana book award did not. The authors may hate me for it, but I am going to bestow the kiss of death again this year, prior to heading to Auckland and the awards ceremony.
Bad behaviour has been disappointingly absent in the last few years but I have hopes for this swan song of swilling the sponsor’s products. Anyway here are my picks, based on what I want to win, authors I’ve seen and liked at book festivals and other considered reasonings of theat nature.
Fiction – The 10PM Question by Kate De Goldi (Longacre Press)
History – First Catch Your Weka: A Story of New Zealand Cooking by David Veart (Auckland University Press)
Biography – Rita Angus: An Artist’s Life by Jill Trevelyan (Te Papa Press)
Reference and anthology – The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield, Volume 5: 1922 edited by Vincent O’Sullivan and Margaret Scott (Oxford University Press)
Lifestyle and contemporary culture – Ladies, A Plate: Traditional Home Baking by Alexa Johnston (Penguin Group NZ)
No picks in the Illustrative and Environment categories because I haven’t seen the books. I’ll be reporting back on the awards ceremony but not on the night.
The Christchurch Arts Festival opens today and Christchurch really does feel like festival city. The Ice Dome is up in the Square, the wonderful Whitebaiters Never Lie meanders along Worcester Boulevard from the McDougall Gallery and from Canterbury Museum to Cathedral Square, and suddenly winter doesn’t seem quite so bad.
I love the feeling of mounting excitement as things start going up around the place and this year the art openings have whetted the appetitite nicely for the next two weeks.
On Tuesday CoCA kicked things off with a show exhibiting an exchange portfolio of prints between 11 New Zealand artists and 11 American artists, and subversive textile works exploring different associations of the word Drape.
Last night saw the opening of two of the major visual arts exhibitions of the festival; et al., Séraphine Pick and Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery, and Snare/mahanga at the Robert McDougall Gallery, Canterbury Museum.
Both shows are unmissable. Snare/mahanga means you can be back in the Robert McDougall building seeing a show that is unsettling, beautiful and sad all at once, while the big three at the big gallery is a chance to have a laugh and a think at the same time but possibly not in the same room.
In the interests of saving some visual arts treats for the next two weeks I haven’t checked out Assume Nothing at the Museum but the film, which featured at the Documentary Festival earlier in the year, was wonderful and I think can be viewed there, along with other short films. Inner landscapes at SoFA in the Arts Centre is also on the list, 15 New Zealand Artists in one space and a book to go with it.
It’s wonderful that several of the shows feature the same artists; works by Hannah and Aaron Beehre, Barry Cleavin, Séraphine Pick and Ronnie van Hout are in two or three places so the more obsessive among us can make a little project of seeing them all. I may make a list.
Want to win a double pass to the movie Coraline? We’ve got 5 to give away, find out how. Be in quick, entries close on Friday 31 July.
The Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards 2009 give you the chance to vote for the best Māori focused books of 2008/2009. Massey University is celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori by letting you pick the best in a range of categories: Art, Architecture & Design, Biography, History, Sports & Recreation and Te Reo Māori. And interestingly they also give you a chance to choose the Māori book of the decade.
So head on over and cast your vote.
It’s not hard – just do something. This year’s theme is Te Reo i te Hapori – Māori language in the community, so try sprinkling some te reo in your day.
You can learn 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know. Or try our beginner’s kete. Easy.
Two great websites for learning te reo are Ngai Tahu’s Generation Reo, which has lots of practical tips for parents and families, and online course Te Whanake from AUT.
A shoe-shine man reads a newspaper while waiting in Cathedral Square for customers, Christchurch. 1927.
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It was announced last night that the new Poet Laureate for 2009-2011 is Bluff poet Cilla McQueen. A wonderful choice. Cilla is brilliant, and I have great memories of her visiting our school St Peter’s in Gore when I was a nipper:
Cilla McQueen is the most celebrated poet of the South, and the southernmost. Throughout her … books of poetry she has remained an evocative voice of reason and nature, a unique teller of images, thought, and history. (Cilla McQueen Interview with Nick Ascroft and Richard Reeve)
So congratulations to Cilla, and to previous Laureate Michele Leggott who’s done a grand job.
In the news: