Quick questions with Frankie McMillan – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Frankie McMillan is an award-winning short story writer and poet and teacher, the author of The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories and two poetry collections, including There are no horses in heaven. Her latest book, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions, is being launched during the festival.

Frankie McMillan (photo credit: Andy Lukey)
Frankie McMillan (photo credit: Andy Lukey)

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I like the proximity of the Port Hills, the various walking and biking tracks, the new art galleries popping up, watching the rebuild take place but most of all having my family members live nearby.

What do you think about libraries?

I’m interested in the changing role of libraries. I’m heartened to hear how Auckland Central library caters for the homeless with a regular book club and movie club. Libraries are fantastic places.

What would be your “desert island book”?

I’d take ‘The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor’

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

In my thirties I trained in physical/improvisational theatre including skills such as fire breathing. Once I stood on the shoulders of my friend and blew out such a massive ball of flame it scorched the theatre ceiling.

Frankie McMillan appears in:

Cover of My mother and the HungariansMore

Poetry Ōtautahi – National Poetry Day, Friday 26 August 2016

National Poetry Day is on this Friday 26 August. Poetry Day events in Canterbury are listed on the 2016 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day website:

Events on National Poetry Day – Friday 26 August

National Poetry Day Celebration Readings 12.30pm at Scorpio Bookshop in Hereford Street. Winners of the Hagley Institute 2016 Poetry Day competition will be announced by judge James Norcliffe and there will be readings from Frankie McMillan, Bernadette Hall, Christina Starchurski, Teoti Jardine, Jeni Curtis, Marisa Cappetta, Rose Collins and the competition winners. Part of  WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival has a strong programme of poetry including the following sessions on Poetry Day itself:

Poetry in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre

More poetry events

Thursday 25 August

Speaking proud Thursday 25 August 6pm. Event to raise funds to continue the work of Q-topia, an organisation that supports LGBTQIA+ Youth in Canterbury.

New Regent Street Pop up Festival  Thursday 25 August, 6pm – this WORD Christchurch event includes Lady Poets at Shop Eight – a badass, subversive poetry show like no other! Lady Poets celebrates the voices and stories of women and genderqueer poets and performers. MC: Audrey Baldwin. and Catalyst at The Last Word Catalyst is a literary arts journal committed to experimental and non-traditional creative forms: song lyrics, script/screenplay excerpts, spoken word, rap, visual poetry, and more.

Saturday 27 August

Poetry events at WORD:

Hear my voice Christchurch performers Sophie Rea, Daisy Speaks and Tusiata Avia are current National Poetry Slam champ Mohamed Hassan, former US National Poetry Slam champ Ken Arkind, fast talking PI Selina Tusitala Marsh and internationally renowned Canadian storyteller and writer Ivan E. Coyote. MCed by Ciarán Fox

Poetry at Parklands – the Poet within
2pm. Parklands Library draws on “the poet within”, within the Christchurch City Libraries that is. That’s right, many of our librarians are writers too. Instead of dispensing poetry books on the day after National Poetry Day, four of our librarian-poets will be reading their own work. The poets are Damien Taylor, Rob Lees, Dylan Kemp and Andrew Bell.

Sunday 28 August

More WORD poetry events including:

Poetry spots in Christchurch

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker. Victoria Street, Christchurch. Flickr 013-07-30

Go down to The Terraces and see the poetry on the banks by Apirana Taylor. Wander further afield and see Ōtākaro to Victoria nā Hinemoana Baker at a mini-park at 108 Victoria Street. There are also poems on power poles on Victoria Street: Whakapapa by Ariana Tikao, and Victoria Street by Ben Brown. There are always fab poems about the town thanks to Phantom Poetry posters as provided by Phantom Billstickers.

Poems in your pocket

Why not put some poetry in your pocket? Download this year’s poems from the National Poetry Day website including one by WORD Christchurch guest Tusiata Avia.

10

Let’s take a walk: A poignant pop-up book about Christchurch

It’s hard to believe but C1 Espresso first opened 20 years ago. In that time they’ve treated patrons to more than just coffee and fancy teas – C1 is known as the kind of place where unexpected things happen. An old sewing machine dispenses drinking water, a sliding bookcase acts as an automatic door, curly-fries are delivered by pneumatic tube and so on, and so on.

C1 Book launch
Artwork from Let’s take a walk

Still, I was surprised to hear they had published a book, even more surprised to hear that the book in question, Let’s take a walk, is their second effort (the first being about growing coffee in the pacific).

I spoke to C1’s Sam Crofskey about Let’s take a walk, in part to try and understand why a café would put together a kids’ pop-up book about the Christchurch earthquakes. It’s an unusual fit.

The motivation comes from a very real place, one that a lot of Christchurch people can relate to, of wanting to move on. And like a lot of things in the genre of earthquake recovery, it didn’t happen overnight.

“We’ve taken four years to do this from a desire to get it right – partly because we’re putting our names to it, partly because of the subject matter,” says Crofskey.

Crofskey and C1 were early returners to the Central City, post-quake. They reopened in 2012 and have been much praised as “heroes of the rebuild” but Crofskey admits that this hasn’t always sit comfortably with him as it seemed to imply that everything was okay with them, as he explains, “our home was in the central city – we couldn’t move on”.

An idea was, if you’ll forgive the coffee-related pun, percolating.

Initially Crofskey enlisted artist friend Hannah Beehre to update the C1 menus with artwork of earthquake damaged city buildings. What she made, drawings of before and after, hacked up and rearranged as collage, were great but there was a problem.

“They were too sad and full-on to have them in the café”, says Crofskey.

So Beehre “softened” the images with the addition of brightly coloured diggers and other demolition vehicles. They added words too. A story grew of “someone who is just trying to explain it (the earthquake) to their kids”.

Crofskey has a young family himself and he even refers to the book as “… an ode to my long-suffering wife and two children”.

Getting the tone of the book right was, he admits, a challenge but he’s happy that “it’s fundamentally a kids’ book”, but one that has things to say that only the adults reading will understand. Poignancy. Loss. Cynicism.

For example, the ending is upbeat, looking towards a shining future… but grown-ups may read it in a different, more cynical way.

“The view of the future is really great – it’s the only picture that’s in full colour – a kind of Wizard of Oz sort of thing. But that’s kind of me taking the piss out of the blue-print and stuff like that.”

Even the choices of which buildings to include in the book aren’t without subtext.

“The Cathedral’s not in it – that’s not a mistake”, says Crofskey making reference to the broken ChristChurch Cathedral as a symbol of a lack of earthquake recovery – an inappropriate choice for a book in which the overriding message is one of moving on and looking forward to the future.

“But kids don’t pick up on that stuff,” says Crofskey drawing parallels with family-friendly films, “it’s like a Pixar movie, is what it is”.

C1 Book Launch 1
Artwork from Let’s take a walk

And get ready to feel things when you open Let’s take a walk, as Crofskey claims “we haven’t had an adult who hasn’t been really upset by it”.

Gosh.

Curious to know more? The Let’s take a walk book launch is on tomorrow, Wednesday, 24 August 6pm and is a free WORD Christchurch event. All welcome.

Sam Crofskey will also be appearing in How Are We Doing, Christchurch?, Fri 26 Aug, 11.15am

More WORD Christchurch

A WORD with Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire is one of New Zealand’s leading poets and writers. Bill is a mentor to New Zealand writers, founding the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University. He was New Zealand Poet Laureate for 1997-99 and is the driving force behind several anthologies of New Zealand poetry,

Bill Manhire. Image supplied.
Bill Manhire. Image supplied.

Bill will be appearing at two events for this week’s WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers FestivalThe Perfect Short Story and The Power of Poetry.

Selected Poems (2012) showcases Bill’s latest contribution to poetry, while his connection with the Antarctic’s fragile and brutal nature is revisited in the fascinating collective Dispatches from Continent Seven (2016).

CoverThe Stories of Bill Manhire brings together The Stories from The New Land : A Picture Book (1990), South Pacific (1994) and Songs of My Life (1996), the choose-your-own-adventure novella The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (1988), and one of my favourites the memoir Under the Influence (2003); a charming memoir of growing up in pubs in the South Island.

An incredibly versatile writer, Bill has also contributed to a wonderful work for children, The Curioseum: a collection of writers’ impressions of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, collaborated with artists, and has had his work put to music by Norman Meehan in Small Holes in the Silence.

Find more works by Bill Manhire in our collection.

Netta Egoz – the woman behind Christchurch’s PechaKucha Nights

The next PechaKucha night is on this Thursday 25 August,  part of the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival and the speakers include WORD guests. Some sessions are:

  • AJ Fitzwater // Science Fiction and Fantasy Author // Mary Sue vs Strong Female Character
  • Debbie Stoller // BUST Magazine founder & Stitch ‘n Bitch author // The Handmade’s Tale: Why Knitting is a Feminist Issue
  • Caitlin Doughty // Progressive Mortician // Our Corpses, Ourselves
  • Alok Jha // Science writer // on how the world could end.

I caught up with Netta Egoz, a PechaKucha Night (PKN) organizer, and no ordinary woman. On the contrary. She IS a supergirl. One can not believe all the things she fits in her day. Besides being a full-time lawyer,  she’s involved in many other projects, like Te Pūtahi – Christchurch Centre for Architecture and City-Making, Project Lyttelton and Social Enterprise Network Ōtautahi. Her legal background, coupled with her passion for creative industries, the Christchurch rebuild, social initiatives, and genuine wish for better and fairer world makes her a rare and precious find. Her skills are well sought after in the city like Christchurch.

We talked about PechaKucha, city-making, law, libraries and the essential components of a successful morning.

netta first picture
Netta Egoz. Image supplied.

You are a solicitor in the day and you are involved in many community projects in your spare time. Your professional and private interests seem very diverse. How do they relate to each other?

They still belong to two separate worlds. A lot of people that I meet outside my work ask me if I am an artist. It is a well-kept secret that I am actually a commercial lawyer. For a long time I felt like I was leading a double life, but pretty quickly I realized I wanted to bring those two worlds together. So that’s why I moved to a private sector in my professional career.

I previously worked at community law, which I thought would be a good way of having a middle ground. But the reality is that community law doesn’t interact with creative sector, it interacts with people with very high unmet legal needs and often the creativity or arts are luxury for these people. But by being a commercial lawyer I am able to do a lot more work with creative industries. From a business perspective, it is quite smart. There are not many lawyers, who work in this area, so I have a great client base. My work is more interesting because I am helping people, who are doing creative things.

My special area is social enterprise so I work a lot with charities, non-profit organizations and creative industries. I am helping them find the ways to become self-sufficient and be commercial entities as well as creating a common social good. On the other end I do a lot of board governance work, which allows me to be a lawyer for creatives.

I imagine your skills, knowledge and interests are highly valuable, there are not many people like you in Christchurch.

I am not aware of many lawyers who are involved in creative industries. There are a few, who will work pro bono for various creative entities and there are a few who will sit on boards, but I am not aware of any, who runs creative projects like I do, or yet still keep a full-time commercial legal job.

netta secondpicture
“The reality is, Christchurch has so much to offer to young creatives. Because we can be so much more important in the city like Christchurch.” Netta Egoz. Image supplied.

These are two very different worlds. Creative people often do not have time, energy or knowledge to dive into legal issues.

Yes, even more so with commercial law. It’s often seen as very dry. I have resisted commercial law for a long time because it didn’t seem like the type of law a creative person would do. But increasingly I realized that’s where my strength is and that’s actually where a lot of creative entities need help. Right through the university I never thought I would be a lawyer, let alone a commercial lawyer. I was always interested in grassroots community, creative movements. I have been running creative events for 10 years now and practicing as a lawyer for 3 years, so my initial engagement was in arts. It’s something that has carried through with me and I’ve managed to still retain it.

Let’s talk about one of your creative projects now, PechaKucha. When did you first come across it and how come you decided to organize it here in Christchurch?

PKN has been running in Christchurch for almost nine years and I have been organizing it for three, maybe three and a half years. So PKN transcends me. I first heard about it just before the earthquake – it has an unusual name that sticks in your mind. The first one I went to was the one directly after the quakes and it was one of the few creative events of this type. There was definitely a hole in our city as far as events go. We have lost a lot of them after the quakes. PKN has grown a lot in Christchurch since then as there was a real need for it and it became a real cornerstone of what the Christchurch creative community does.

The first time I got involved was in 2011, when I presented at PKN, volume 12. It was about a project I was doing with my employer at the time, the White Elephant Trust. I was working with Architecture for Humanity on a city youth venue and I was asked to present. I loved it so much, that I decided to volunteer and I stayed with them right through the university. After living overseas, I came back to Christchurch for the job interview and the day I arrived back someone offered me to be PKN city organizer. I thought wow, you just don’t get handed a torch like that! Everything fell into place that day, I was given a key to my passion and also to my home in Lyttelton. For so long I was feeling very lost and I felt I needed to move on from Christchurch. But the reality is Christchurch has so much to offer to young creatives. Because we can be so much more important in the city like Christchurch.

pkn16pkn2pkn3pkn4png6PKN banner 2

It seems to me that PKN in Christchurch is in some way at the core of the rebuild activity. It follows what is happening and reopening in the central city.

I am definitely biased here, but I think we are very important for the social rebuild. Firstly, there’s continuity – we existed before the quakes, right through the earthquakes and onwards. There’s reliability – it happens four times a year, and the format is the same: 20 seconds for 20 slides. So you know what you’re getting. It’s eclectic, the speakers are always different, they provide surprises and new information, the venues and themes are always different. We mix people, we had people from Earthquake Recovery talking what they are doing, ordinary residents of Christchurch talking about a small idea they had, artists announcing big projects … It’s a great mix, everyone is on the same stage at the same level, what they have to share is just as important whether it is coming from the government, established creative institutions or just residents of Christchurch who have an idea or a story. It’s a mix of introducing new projects, providing information, telling a fictional story, performances …

So it’s got quite an egalitarian nature.

I hope so. I know PKN as a global institution gets compared to TEDx, I think one of the big points of difference is that PKN is more from the bottom up. As organizers, we have some curation, but very limited. It’s about people approaching us to perform. No matter who you are, you are given the exact same time on stage, exact same introduction, and exact same treatment. I think it is quite egalitarian in that sense.

26739979093_f56187ae3e_k
The audience of the last PKN in Christchurch, held at Christchurch Art Gallery. Image supplied.

So everyone gets the same format, but this format seems very hard. It sounds very simple: 20 seconds for each of the 20 images, but that demands almost special skills. Do you have any tips on how to perform as best as possible? Continue reading

Quick questions with Rachael Craw – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Rachael Craw is the author of YA sci-fi crossover trilogy Spark, Stray and Shield.

Rachael Craw. Image supplied.
Rachael Craw. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I was born in Christchurch and lived there my whole life till 4 years ago so all my friends and whānau are there which means catching up with as many people as I can in 48 hours in between going to as many festival events as I can. So basically, I should just give up on eating and sleeping, right?

What do you think about libraries?

Enablers? Suppliers? Dealers? They fed my Trixie Belden addiction in childhood so my love for libraries is large.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverThe Lord of the Rings. Which is kind of cheating – 3 books in 1. But it is still my favourite book. The Grey Havens choke me up every time.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I can sing.

 

More

CoverCoverCover

Quick questions with Nadia Hashimi – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Nadia Hashimi, born in the United States to Afghan parents, has degrees in Middle Eastern studies and biology, and is a trained paediatrician. Her 2014 debut novel The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was followed by When the Moon is Low. Her latest book is A House Without Windows.

Nadia Hashimi. Photo by Chris Cartter. Image supplied.
Nadia Hashimi. Photo by Chris Carter. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

That’s going to depend on how hospitable the weather will be while I’m there. I’d love to see a wildlife preserve and to see how the people of Christchurch are rebuilding their city after the earthquake. I’m up for just about anything that will be uniquely Christchurch. Extra points for historical significance.

What do you think about libraries?

I could wax eloquent on libraries or I could quote Caitlin Moran who so brilliantly described libraries as “cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.” They’ve been a part of my life since I was a child and going back to my hometown libraries to give book talks and has been an incredibly moving experience. In different times of my life, I’ve turned to libraries for different reasons. Libraries are where I:  blazed through summer reading challenges, had my first volunteer job, learned that my tween angst was not that abnormal, studied for medical school entrance exams, conducted research for my novels, found a quiet space to write my last chapter. Finally, the library is where I bring my children so they can do all the above and more as well.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverLove in the Time of Cholera. (Although, if I were allowed to bring my e-reader, I would have lots more options. Does the desert island have Wi-Fi?)

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Though I’m a vegetarian, I hate mushrooms. They are fungi and should be treated as such. (No offense to mushroom lovers.)

Nadia Hashimi appears in:
Can Books Change the World?, Thurs 25 Aug, 6pm
Read the World, Sat 27 Aug, 12.15pm
An Hour with Nadia Hashimi, Sun 28 Aug, 3.30pm

More

CoverCover

How to interview yourself – WORD Christchurch

If, like me, there is a strong possibility that you will get through life without ever being interviewed, why not do it yourself? Here’s my interview with myself on WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival – now a mere nine sleeps away.

Roberta AWF

What is it with you and festivals Roberta?

I know there should be an academic booky answer for this, but I will stick to the truth. I like the buzz. I like being in a room with other readers and having books and words as the focus of the gathering. Festivals are where my tribe gathers. I must be there.

How many of these tribal gatherings have you attended?

Three in Auckland (the Big Kahuna of book festivals in New Zealand) and three in Christchurch – the smaller but perfectly formed hometown gathering.

What’s the difference between the Auckland and the Christchurch Festivals?

One is big and wonderful. The other is smaller and quite perfect. I love them both but I am especially proud of the team at WORD Christchurch that brings us this festival. They have done a brilliant job in the face of some pretty earth-shattering events. Thanks.

A significant difference between the two for me is that AWF always takes place in one main venue Aotea Square, so I feel very connected to that place. I know where the good wifi spots are, where it’s quiet enough to conduct an interview, the best nearby coffee outlets and the location of all the loos. Not that I’m implying for one moment that toilet availability is what makes a festival great. But you did ask.

WORD, which is Christchurch’s  bi-annual festival has been held at a different venue each time. It keeps you on your toes. In 2012 it took place in a tent in Hagley Park – think mud and regular small earth tremors. In 2014 the main venue was in Rydges Hotel overlooking the Cardboard Cathedral, it was a tight squeeze which only added to the atmosphere. This year I am super excited about the new venues on offer – the Isaac Royal Theatre and the brand new The Piano.

What about this year’s programme?

When first I lay my hands on a programme I stroke it lovingly for a bit, then I take it out for many cappuccinos and page through it highlighting all my favourite events.  I have three festival rules:

I like to attend opening night. It feels optimistic and full of promise. This year the event is Can Books Change the World? Four authors will discuss the impact of literature on the turmoil of our world.   

Caitlin Doughty AuthorNext I like to choose my hot favourite – this year it is Ask a Mortician – Caitlin Doughty. So young, so beautiful so mortician-y. No one suggested this in career guidance when I was at school!

Finally I select an event about which I know very little. Sometimes I choose this event because the presenter is very good looking. But I digress. This year it’s going to be How To Be a Writer by the ‘amazingly funny’ Steve Hely because I’ve never heard of him, and he’s not too shabby in the looks department either. After that I fill up my goodie bag until I can’t fit in any more events and blog at the same time.

And the blogging, how hard is that to do at a festival?

Festival blogging is very fast paced. It makes me feel sharp, focussed and in the zone. If I could bottle that feeling I would make a million. I cancel all other engagements for that period of time. I also do a fair bit of preparation, like reading reviews and writing my drafts with the book covers and author photos ready to use. I think the actual blogging is the easy part because you don’t have to think what to write about.  You just pitch up (in my case on a caffeine high), listen to what the authors say and write that down. Trust me, they are always very, very quotable.

Anything else to share?

Just three words: See you there!

More

Quick questions with Leigh Hopkinson – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Leigh Hopkinson is a New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Australian and The Press. Her first book Two Decades Naked is a memoir about her years working in striptease.

Leigh Hopkinson. Image supplied.
Leigh Hopkinson. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I’m looking forward to catching up with family and friends, and to immersing myself in the WORD festival. I’m especially looking forward to meeting Kate Holden, whose memoir inspired my own. And I’m keen to get out into the Southern Alps for a few days.

What do you think about libraries?

I love them! I’m very grateful they exist and that they’re free for everyone to enjoy, to take shelter in and to be nurtured by. In Melbourne, I often write at the State Library of Victoria. When I doubt the sensibility of pursuing my passion, I need only look around.

What would be your “desert island book”?

Just one? Well, I haven’t read Robinson Crusoe yet, but perhaps something more sensible might be in order, such as a Dummies Guide to Survival on a Desert Island.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

When I was a kid, I was a tomboy, happiest out of doors. I hated anything girlie, such as make-up, dresses or Barbie dolls. Post-stripping, I still associate these things with the performative, not with the everyday.

Leigh Hopkinson appears in:
PechaKucha Night, Thurs 25 Aug, 8.20pm
Work/ Sex, Sun 28 Aug, 12.30pm

More

Quick questions with Jarrod Gilbert – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Jarrod Gilbert is a sociologist, Canterbury University lecturer, firefighter, New Zealand Herald columnist, and the author of Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand.

Jarrod Gilbert. Image supplied.
Jarrod Gilbert. Image supplied.

What do you like about living in Christchurch?

I live in Sumner, which gives every indication of being the best suburb in the world, It has a terrific beach, is surrounded by hills, and has a cool village feel.

What do you think about libraries?

Libraries are fundamental to democracy and ideally are hubs for communities. Changes to make them less stiff and more welcoming are awesome.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverTo a God Unknown by John Steinbeck. I can read it over and over and love it each time.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I eat the same meal every day.

Jarrod Gilbert appears in:
True Crime, Fri 26 Aug, 3.30pm
The Great NZ Crime Debate, Sat 27 Aug, 7.30pm

More

Cover