A glimpse of Owen Marshall

The series of author interviews I’ve undertaken recently in the endeavour to bring a bit of the Press Christchurch Writers festival to CCL readers has been deeply interesting. The manner in which the interviewed authors have responded to my questions has provided a glimpse into their personalities, writing style and process.

Some have answered in a very considered or academic style. Others were more off-the-cuff, humorous and loaded with information and insight. This must reflect the writer’s personality, no?

In my recent interview with author Owen Marshall, I was struck with how succinct his answers were. There were no wasted words – a definite sign of an accomplished writer and, perhaps, an indication that in life Marshall is also  thoughtful and deliberate.

Though Marshall considers himself primarily a prose writer, he was scheduled to be one of the presenters at the Poetry for Lunch session at the Writers Festival. I had looked forward to hearing him read his poetry, to experience the words by the man who had birthed them and therefore has a deeper familiarity with them than anyone else in the world. In his interview, Marshall revealed that he had planned to read from his newest collection of poetry Sleepwalking in Antarctica at the Writers’ Festival.

Being a non-native New Zealander, discovering many of these New Zealand writers and their work has been a revelatory journey. Yet I’m left with a lingering question: is all writing somehow an unavoidable revelation of self? Is studying the way a writer approaches, builds and uses language a kind of map into the writer as an individual?

Read my full interview with author Owen Marshall.

Thomas Merton anniversary

December 10 was the anniversary of the death of writer Thomas Merton. A prolific writer on spirituality, social justice and pacifism, he is best known for his autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain about his journey to becoming a Trappist monk.

Christchurch City Libraries has a significant collection of his works which began in 1969 with donations from his aunts, Agnes and Beatrice Merton. Thomas Merton never visited New Zealand but his father was a student at Christ’s College and his grandfather and great-grandfather both taught there.