WORD Up – WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival

Oh boy what an awesome festival the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival is! Exciting in the extreme. I was drenched by the time I got to my first event; Poetry readings at Scorpio Books. A packed house, and great poetry. The winner, Danielle O’Halloran, gave a fantastic live performance.

Danielle O'Halloran at Scorpio Books
Danielle O’Halloran at Scorpio Books

Next up a change of shoes for a very rainy Oratory on the Ōtākaro / Avon, with Joseph Hullen (Ngāi Tahu,Ngāi Tūāhuriri)

The walk follows significant sites from Puari Pa, which stretched from the Hospital to Kilmore Street, reveals another cultural layer buried under Christchurch, literally. Remains of yupuna (ancestors) have been found in Cathedral Square, under the old Library (Gloucester Street), and under St Luke’s Church (Kilmore Street).

Oratory on the Ōtākaro, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu
Oratory on the Otakaro, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu

Ngāi Tahu are driving a project to restore, beautify and rebuild the river, which was choked with sediment post quakes. Native life, such as Inanga (Whitebait) and Tuna (Eel) are coming back to the Ōtākaro to thrive. The installation of 13 Whariki Manaaki; tiled patterns based on traditional weaving designs, “weaves a Ngāi Tahu narrative into the rebuild.” (Joseph Hullen)

Whariki Manaaki, Otakaro / Avon River, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu
Whariki Manaaki, Ōtākaro / Avon River, with Joseph Hullen, Ngai Tahu

Leaving the Red ZoneAfter a very welcome afternoon tea, it was time to go to the launch of Leaving the Red Zone, a collection of poems inspired by the Canterbury earthquakes. Joanna Preston’s poem, ‘Ministry of Sorrow’ was especially moving and powerful. Included is the poem, ‘Rebuild’ by one of the Library’s own poets, Greg O’Connell.

Feeling like festival flotsam, I made my way through the crowds of excited festival goers to The Power of Poetry. Featuring Bill Manhire, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Fiona Kidman, and Ali Cobby Eckermann. Ali’s view from the Aboriginal culture was a poignant perspective, and I loved Selina’s repetition : t t t t t…d d d d …

L-R Fiona Kidman, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Paul Millar and Bill Manhire.
L-R Fiona Kidman, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Selina Tusitala Marsh, C.K Stead, Paul Millar and Bill Manhire.

WORD Christchurch

 

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