Tell it slant – Steve Braunias, Joan Fleming, Vivian Gornick and Chris Price at the Auckland Writers Festival 2016

How best to tell one’s truth? Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s “tell all the truth but tell it slant”, deft writers Steve Braunias (NZ), Joan Fleming (NZ), Vivian Gornick (US), and Chris Price (NZ) read extracts from their work to show us the many and varied ways in which this can be done.

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Four Writers Read, Image supplied

Steve Braunias is like a jugular heat-seeking missile, and in his reading extract he had the NZ Green Party in his sights. Acutely observant, witty and irreverent, here’s some of his slanty truths:

Eleanor Catton: “from whose pages, it must be said, one does not come away clutching one’s sides in laughter.”

Metiria Turei: “one of the smartest people in the room, then someone gave her a ukulele. There followed the longest 4 minutes of my life.”

failed Love PoemsPoet Joan Fleming‘s writing is like “a shudder of light” in the dark venue. Erotic poetry like this is hard to listen to in a packed room shoulder-to-shoulder with complete strangers. But she read achingly beautifully from her book Failed Love Poems.

Vivian Gornick who read from her book The Odd Woman and the City has had many loves in her life and talks of herself as a person for whom “lovemaking was sublime, but it was not where I lived.” Friendship plays a much greater role, and her interactions with her friend Leonard bring out the best in her writing: “We share the politics of damage … our subject is the unlived life.”

Beside HerselfChris Price is also a New Zealand poet. She drew the short straw in terms of the line-up, as one of the features of AWF is that events follow in rapid succession and you have to queue to gain entry to some of them. Several patrons had to leave while Chris was reading. It must have been very distracting. And it was their loss, here is a quote from a poem about cross-dressing:

After raiding your wardrobe, I feel so much more myself

Great stuff.

All these authors can write and read and speak and connect. The 45 minutes duration of these reading sessions just passes in a flash.

Now to elbow my way to the front of the queue for the next event!

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