庆祝2018年新西兰中文周Celebrations in New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2018

New Zealand Chinese Language Week is a Kiwi-driven initiative aiming at encouraging New Zealanders to discover Chinese language and culture. It was officially launched by Raymond Huo as a sitting Member of Parliament on 24 May 2014. This year New Zealand Chinese Language Week is on from 23 to 29 September. Explore all the events in the nationwide celebration during New Zealand Chinese Language Week.

New Zealand Chinese Language Week Celebrations at Shirley and Hornby Libraries

Coincidentally, Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on 24 September and Confucius’ Birthday on 28 September fall during this year’s New Zealand Chinese Language Week. Christchurch City Libraries is collaborating with the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury to celebrate the two events.

Shirley Library

Our activities include paper cutting, calligraphy, plate painting, Chinese games, Chinese folk dancing, and learning basic Chinese greeting and numbers. Free, no bookings required. Recommended for all ages. Caregiver required.

Hornby Library

Come and celebrate Chinese Language Week with us at Hornby Library. Lead teacher, Fang Tian from the Confucius Institute will run a Chinese calligraphy taster and Cherry Blossom painting session. Suitable for all ages. FREE, no bookings required. Wednesday 26 September, 3.30pm to 4.30pm. Find out more.

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival中秋节

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th day of the 8th month of a lunar calendar year when the moon is believed to the biggest and fullest. Chinese people believe that a full moon is a symbol of reunion, harmony and happiness so Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for family reunion. Mooncakes are the main characteristic food for this occasion. Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival was derived from the ancient rite of offering sacrifices to the sun in spring and to the moon in autumn. Folklore about the origin of the festival is based on the ancient legend of Chang’e and her fateful ascent to the heavens after having swallowed an elixir pill.

Books and resources in the library related to Mid-Autumn Festival 图书馆有关中秋节的读物

Confucius’ Birthday孔子诞辰

Confucius, also known as Kong Qiu, is a great Chinese scholar, teacher and social philosopher. Confucius is believed to be born on 28 September, 551BC. He was living in a period regarded as a time of great moral decline. Working with his disciples, Confucius edited and wrote the classics and compiled Four Books and Five Classics 四书五经 to find solutions. In his life time, Confucius traveled throughout eastern China to persuade the official classes and rulers of Chinese states with the great moral teachings of the sages of the past. Although Confucius did not succeed in reviving the classics, his teachings formed as a dominant Chinese ideology, known as Confucianism, which values the concepts of benevolence仁, ritual仪, propriety礼. His teachings have had a profoundly influence on Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese thoughts and life for 2500 years.

Each year, Confucius’ birthday celebration ceremonies are held on the island of Qufu (Shangdong Province, Mainland China), the birthplace of Confucius. Outside Mainland China, Confucius’ birthday is also celebrated in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Japan. In Taiwan, Confucius’ birthday is set as a public holiday for teachers, known as Teachers’ Day, to memorise the first great teacher in the Chinese history.

  

Books and resources on Confucius in the library 图书馆有关孔子的读物

Chinese Language Collection

Chinese eResources

  • Overdrive — Chinese language eBooks中文电子书
  • Dragonsource — Chinese language magazines龙源中文杂志
  • Press Reader — Chinese language newspaper and magazines 在线中文报纸和杂志

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Resources for Learning Chinese

Programmes and services offered in Chinese at your library

Hong Wang
Network Library Assistant

Interview with Laurence Fearnley – WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

During the chaos of dashing between WORD sessions, writer and co-editor Laurence Fearnley kindly agreed to sit down with me and answer a few questions about her new anthology To the Mountains and other works.

What brought you to writing about mountaineering?

My parents used to do a lot of climbing in Scotland and Wales after the war [before moving to Christchurch]. We spent a lot of weekends tramping — dad went on a couple of expeditions to the Himalayas, my brother was a keen climber… When I was doing research for my novel The Hut Builder I read a lot of Alpine Club articles and ended up with boxes and boxes of material, so I thought it would be quite nice to do something with that. There hadn’t been an anthology of mountain writing since Ray Knox’s A Thousand Mountains Shining in the 80s, so it seemed a good time. I hadn’t really kept up to date with modern mountaineering writing but [co-editor] Paul Hersey edited the Alpine Journal and is a climber, so he had that sort of knowledge.

You researched a lot in the Hocken Collection. What was that like?

They have full archives from the Alpine Club, which was established in 1891. It’s interesting because they allowed women to join as members right from the start, compared to others like the Canterbury Mountaineering Club which didn’t allow women in until the 1980s. I got material from those archives and also from notebooks, journals, and letters that individuals have donated to the collection. It’s an amazing archival record, it’s incredible. It does taper off from the 1970s/80s onwards so it would be great if people continued to donate to the collection, if this could be our central repository of mountain writing.

A lot of voices chosen for this anthology aren’t those most people would associate with alpine writing — usually we only hear from those at the cutting edge of mountaineering.

That’s the sad thing because that’s how you get the same old voices coming through, if they’re not disrupted by allowing different voices. Mountains are a big part of our sporting identity, it would be nice if it was seen as something families do, not just rugged individuals. There are so many reasons why people go into the mountains — photography, art, for somewhere quiet and restful, to admire the beauty… The public perception of conquest [of the Alps] doesn’t really hold true, it’s not necessarily a motivation for most people.

At the same time a lot of the 1930s Canterbury Mountaineering Club articles are of trips in the Port Hills because it was difficult to get good transport to the Alps — they might only be able to get into the mountains once or twice a year but they were very fit. It was a class orientated sport, particularly in the early days. It’s interesting when the boundaries start breaking down between the upper middle class mountaineers and the working class mountain guides. Guides weren’t allowed in the Alpine Club because they were professionals.

Laurence Fearnley. Image supplied.
Laurence Fearnley. Image supplied.

Which doesn’t give credit to the fact that the guides were doing a lot of the work putting up tents, cutting steps, carrying the equipment…

Yes, you get someone like Dora De Beer on an expedition overseas in China, they walked 400 miles before they even got to the mountain, it was a real Victorian expedition. They would expect shelter from whatever was available, from monasteries to embassies, just take over their house. She was an amazing woman — during the 30s just before the war she would drive from London through Holland, Germany and Switzerland to get to Italy, on her own a lot of the time. Her diaries are from 1936-37, a lot of her entries are things like “Very inconvenienced getting across the border,” such a sense of imperious entitlement with no mention of the political climate. People like her were so curious and enthusiastic, in New Zealand they’d set off on horseback across Otira to the West Coast, just loving the absolute freedom of being out of that rigid society. They thought it was a great hoot.

Some of my favourite parts of the book are letters from the 1800s, there were some really funny excerpts. You must have had a lot of fun finding these in the Hocken collection. Do you have any favourites?

The ones I liked were the quieter, reflective pieces, people going back later in life and just enjoying being in the outdoors with their friends. I guess Jill Tremain had a big impact on me as a kid when she did the [1971 traverse of the Southern Alps] with Graeme Dingle — I can remember it being on the radio, there was a lot of controversy about them sharing a tent as she wasn’t married. From her letters she seemed to have such a generous outlook on life.

Voices I like least would be the 1970s slightly macho hard men stuff, that’s not a voice that appeals to me but quite a big part of the literature of the time. When you compare those writers with Aat Vervoorn, so reflective and spiritual, learning from the landscape… The ones who enjoy being in the space rather than needing to prove themselves or get a reputation, those would be the voices I like.

To the Mountains. Image supplied.
To the Mountains. Image supplied.

What are you currently working on?

I’m two-thirds of the way through a novel looking at landscape through scent and identity, under the umbrella narrative of a woman who loses her job when the university Humanities department is done away with. That one will be coming out next year. I’m also looking at doing an anthology of New Zealand women mountaineers. This will be more historical, it will be worthwhile to have a chronology of women mountaineers as there are so many of them.

What are you reading at the moment?

Just read a couple of books that I reviewed for Landfall, one called Oxygen by [New Zealand freediver) William Trubridge — not a book I’d necessarily be drawn to but interesting to see just how determined and focussed he has to be. The other is a beautiful book about hunting called Dark Forest Deep Water by Richard Fall, which would normally be something that turns me off but hearing him reflecting on why he hunts and the emotional journeys of hunting… It’s a great book, I’d really recommend it.

Thanks Laurence for a lovely interview, and I look forward to reading your next books!

Vulnerability and advocacy at WORD Christchurch Festival

Once again, WORD Christchurch was fabulous. All the session I went to were thoroughly interesting and enjoyable, and reading all the fabulous write ups of other sessions caused some serious past-tense FOMO. My holds list has also got rather long…

However, I’ve also been thinking about some of the connections between different sessions. One very sparkly connection was Stacy Gregg‘s silver boots, another around leaving New Zealand – or not. At the very wonderful Mortification session Steve Braunias told a beautifully crafted story about giving a well-known politician fleas, but one of the points he made was about how he wasn’t particularly keen to do a big OE – he was settled in New Zealand. In Explosive Archaeology Brannavan Gnanalingam noted that Robin Hyde developed her career in New Zealand, rather than going overseas to do so. Sometimes it seems that some Kiwis have to go away to achieve in order to come back and be successful, but as these stories show that isn’t always the case. New Zealand is more than enough.

As we found out, when you are mortified you are very vulnerable – think inopportune periods, an inopportune goat in the buttocks, assorted inopportune number twos and buttocks exposed to the elements. I enjoyed hearing people talk about things in life that had not gone so well – we need to be open about our screw ups. Sex also makes us vulnerable. Sharing your wibbly bits with someone else is risky, as is showing your mum poems you’ve written which contain a lot of sex. Tayi Tibble was nervous showing her mum her more sexual poetry, but her mum was fine with it. Her risk paid off.

But, as Chris Henry reminds us, it really is ok to be vulnerable. Looking after our mental health is so very important, and reaching out to people and telling them how we feel is huge and so worthwhile. Chris demonstrates very well how you can be a hero and vulnerable. ‘We can make a life‘ not only covers family stories and the earthquakes, it also advocates for the amazing work that rural GPs do, which Chessie feels is sometimes under appreciated.

Advocacy came up again in Explosive Archaeology – in terms of making sure we are speaking about underappreciated artists and genres, and also in terms of making sure we are leaving doors open for those that come after us. When we succeed – who do we take with us? Who do we raise up?

I love events that make me think and WORD certainly did that. I’m going to make sure that I’m ok with my vulnerability, and that if I like something I tell people about it.

I like the WORD Christchurch Festival, and I’ve enjoyed telling you about it.

Melting the canon – Explosive Archaeology: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

This fantastic session included no stripey jumpers or whips or trowels – the archaeology was metaphorical, asking us to look back, elevate, uncover and dig up those who have been excluded from the literary canon. Poet Tayi Tibble, academic Erin Harrington, novelist Brannavan Gnanalingam and curator Jennifer Shields were asked by session chair Pantograph Punch editor Lana Lopesi to wrestle with the canon and to share their favourite underappreciated artists and genres.

Jennifer Shields. Image supplied.
Jennifer Shields. Image supplied.

Jennifer told us about Wellington-based emerging musical talent Hybrid Rose and Christchurch contemporary art collective The Social, who specialise in making cheap, accessible and engaging public art in a post-quake environment.

Brannavan Gnanaglingam. Photo credit: Lucy Li
Brannavan Gnanaglingam. Photo credit: Lucy Li

Brannavan talked about Merata Mita, also the subject of a recent documentary, who made protest documentaries like Bastion Point: Day 507 and Patu! which do not fit with the ‘man alone’ narrative of the emerging New Zealand film industry. Someone else who doesn’t fit into an established narrative is political journalist and social realist Robin Hyde. Unlike the ‘Mansfield narrative’ she didn’t need to leave New Zealand in order to find her purpose. Let’s widen out the canon so people don’t have to ‘fit’ and can be as they are.

Dr Erin Harrington. Image supplied.
Dr Erin Harrington. Image supplied.

Erin spoke about children’s material, and how formative influences can be left out of the canon, referencing Karen Healey‘s article about absences in the New Zealand Book Awards. She talked about Aotearoa’s special relationship with Badjelly the Witch, played regularly on Sunday morning kids’ radio and how this helped learn to be listeners and to understand story and narrative. BTW, childhood influences are something that I have explored on Library Whisperers with Christchurch’s good friend Matt Finch.

Tayi Tibble. Image supplied.
Tayi Tibble. Image supplied.

Tayi introduced us to two up and coming poets Jessica Thompson Carr and Joy Holley, advocating for their work by reading us some of their poetry. Finally Lana spoke about artist Leofa Wilson who has mentored and opened so many doors for Pasifika women.

Opening doors was a big theme of the questions that followed. How do people get to that place where you become an overnight success? How can doors be left open for the people that come after? What are the best ways to advocate and champion others and build networks and relationships? This was an interesting debate, suggesting that we must be mindful of who we promote, always have our wings open so people can be taken under them, keep making connection, and above all speak about the the things, and the people, we love.

Yaba Badoe – Fire Stars, and Witches: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Yaba Badoe opens the talk with a reading from the first chapter of her book, A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars:

“There’s only one thing makes any sense when I wake from my dream. I’m a stranger and shouldn’t be here. Should my luck run out, a black-booted someone could step on me and crush me, as if I’m worth less than an ant. This i know for a fact. And yet once or twice a week, the dream seizes me and shakes me about.”

This quote highlights the central theme of belonging and the dangers of not belonging that were present in both Badoe’s book, but also the conversation on the day.

Yaba Badoe. Image supplied
Yaba Badoe. Image supplied

Badoe appeared in conversation with the insightful Sionainn Byrnes who is a PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of Canterbury. Byrnes’ expertise in the area of magical realism – the genre of Badoe’s writing – was an amazing addition to the conversation as she facilitated the conversation superbly.

One of the first questions asked by Byrnes was about the subject of origins. This is a central theme of the book and one that is highlighted in the opening passages that was read at the beginning of the talk. Badoe discussed the way that Sante’s – the main character in the book – origin is related to her sense of self, her feelings of being a stranger, and that a large part of the narrative of the story pertains to Sante’s quest to understand her origins to understand her reoccurring dreams.

A big part of this narrative theme surrounding origin and belonging is the way in which the book positions the struggles of refugees and migrants as all the main characters fit into one of these categories. Badoe expands from this narrative theme to discuss the issue of migration in the contemporary world. Badoe herself was born in Ghana, educated in Britain, and in her own words, spends a lot of her life “going back and forth between Europe and Ghana”. Here, the connection between her own life and experience as an African migrant is deeply connected to the narrative of her work. She also outlined an interesting position on migration that posited that “the whole world is made of migrants”; and understanding of migration that is particularly pertinent in the midst of the migration crisis in various places around the world. The narrative of her book and this conversation is a very poignant narrative, reminding its readers that migrants are people deserving of respect and integrity.

At the end of the talk there was a brief discussion of Badoe’s film, The Witches of Gambaga, that was screened the day before as part of WORD Christchurch Festival. This short conversation explored the continued belief of witchcraft in regions of Northern Ghana. In this instance, Badoe and Byrnes briefly discusses the challenges of respecting deeply held beliefs and superstitious while challenging the socio-economic systems that underpin them; in the case patriarchal values appear to underpin the continued belief in witchcraft in Ghana.

Sionainn Byrnes was a great facilitator who asked interesting questions that were simultaneously challenging and fair. She did a fantastic job maintaining the conversation. Badoe’s own experience was insightful and beautifully simple at times. This was best summed up by Badoe’s response to Byrnes’ question regarding the categorisation of her book as ‘Magical Realism’:

“I just like to tell stories”

Understated and superb.

“Everything else is just filler” Sex and Death Salon: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Host Victor Rodger warned that this session was going to be dirty and lowbrow. I intend to make this blog as dirty and lowbrow as the editors will let me! Featuring poets Tayi Tibble and Chris Tse, and authors Stacy Gregg and Emily Writes, this was a no holds barred, late night sessions about things you might not want to mention at the dinner table. Or if you do mention them you might there might be awkward questions and emergency visits to Urban Dictionary.

Stacy pointed out that after sex and death everything else is just filler. Which is a little tricky for her given that she writes books aimed at children, therefore she has to feature death. Her subject is horses and she feels little frustrated that horses are often associated with sex. Jilly Cooper has a lot to answer for…

Emily brought the house down with a reading of *that* review of The Legend of Tarzan, explaining that she had just stopped breastfeeding when she wrote it and how a low tolerance for alcohol. Frankly, given the deliciousness of Alexander Skarsgård I think it a masterly and appropriate hymn to the male form.

Chris also brought the house down with his wonderful poem ‘Fun until it gets weird’ about playing Cards Against Humanity with your mum and aunties and having to explain bukake to them (do not Google this on a work computer). And then writing a poem about the experience that your family ask you to read out at Christmas. However, Chris also reminded us that we shouldn’t put older people in a box – they’ve been round the block themselves a few times. He also revealed that he felt dragging up took him most out of his comfort zone, and that his drag name is Angela Merkin, which I love!

Tayi read us her gorgeous poem ‘Johnsonville Cindy Crawford’, about the realities of growing up with an attractive mother, and remembering playing Tomb Raider, with Lara Croft and her big triangular boobs. If she could go back in time she would like to 1975 to take part in the Land March.

I don’t know if this session quite explored sex and death and taboo quite as much as I anticipated – death didn’t really get a look in, not even a petite mort. However, I do know that I laughed a lot, heard some great writing, discovered some cool people, and was rather envious of Stacy’s silver boots.

Follow our coverage of WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Philip Hoare – Hunting for Moby-Dick and The Sea, The Sea: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Oh ye! Whose eyeballs are vexed and tired

Feast them on the wideness of the sea.

(Keats)

I love the Sea and books about the Sea. Thrillingly rough and washing up over carparks or velvet-smooth, there is something at once wild and calming about its compelling expanse.

Although I swim until March, Philip Hoare is a man who swims in the ocean every day (at 4.30am), no matter where in the world he may be, or whatever the season. He was not to be deterred by Canterbury’s spring temperatures, which swung from ‘damp and drizzly’ (Melville) to very welcome sparkly sunshine within a day.

Hosting a workshop and documentary on the classic Moby-Dick and speaking at WORD Christchurch Festival about the inspiration for his books, Philip shared his wonder of the ocean with the redoubtable Kim Hill for a large audience.

Risingtidefallingstar is Hoare’s latest book. Following a common thread this WORD Festival, in Risingtide Philip also blurs the lines between fact and fiction in an alliterative tidal flow that combines the mystical with tales of experience; taking the reader on a journey to discover how the ocean has influenced human life, literature, art, and essentially, ourselves.

To signpost this journey back to our primal selves, Hoare refers to many wonderful works of art and literature inspired by the Ocean itself. Shakespeare’s Tempest, Spenser’s Faerie Queen, the works of Shelley and of course the master of high sea adventure, Herman Melville; absorbed all and more of these, including the Bible.

At times in human story the Ocean is appears to be a metaphor for Nature’s evil. But in doing so it raises the question of, “Can Nature be evil?” turning the spotlight on perhaps the true villain, man:

“Humans have become disconnected from the natural world”

“Our vocabulary, speech, has distanced us.”

Here Hoare apologises for not speaking Whale. (We later discover that Waitaha can speak whale. That’s another story.)

What struck me was how similar to humans whales can be, not just physically (our bone structures are very similar). But maybe more evolved as they stuck to their path, and weren’t distracted by dreams of land (like the little Mermaid, to her doom). Whales define themselves by each other, says Hoare; like family, and are never alone.

Humans are defined by our larger culture, Philip himself relating poignantly to the death of iconic David Bowie, whose loss was felt worldwide, while he was writing this book. Bowie is, of course, the Falling Star.

We return to the subject of swimming. Whilst in Canterbury, Philip has taken a dip at Sumner Beach, and in Akaroa. He’s heading north to sunny Nelson next. The ritual of swimming is for Hoare a meditation, made more sensual by being done in darkness. In times gone by, Monks meditated in the sea, immersed in its timelessness.

“Why do you do it?” Asks a relentlessly funny Kim Hill.

“To leave it all behind,” replies Philip, “the Earth, earthly problems, gravity itself.”

“But you could die.”

“That’s part of the charm.”

“I’m reborn!”

exclaims Philip excitedly.

“We’ve all been through a lot” Chessie and Chris Henry: WORD Christchurch

I doubt there are many literary – or related – events where you have the author, one of their subjects and an audience made up of people who have been through many of the events described, to a greater or lesser extent, in the place where one of the events took place.

Cover of We can make a lifeThis was the setting for ‘Earthquakes and Family Ties’, a discussion about Chessie Henry’s new book We can make a life, which was also officially launched on Thursday night. Bronwyn Hayward was hosting and Chessie’s dad, Chris, was also part of a fascinating and moving conversation.

This was they first time that Chessie and Chris had talked about the book in public, [pause while I take a call from someone requesting this very book] a memoir of their family, their relationships, brushes with disasters, and a reflection on grief and loss in its many forms.

Chris is a GP and worked in Lyttelton a few years back before taking his family to Tokelau. Unfortunately Chessie and her brothers caught dengue fever and were very seriously ill – and Chris was pretty much the only doctor. Serious at the time, they now laugh about the experience, a powerful shared family memory.

The nucleus of the book is a conversation between Chessie and Chris that took place when they were driving down from Kaikōura in early 2017, where Chris is now based. In it Chris finally tells his story of the work he did as an early responder at the CTV building on 22nd February 2011, working to rescue those trapped. You can read an extract in The Spinoff, but tread carefully as it is a powerful story.

There are so many stories of that time, many that are still being uncovered and shared. It is so important to record these events, not just as history, but – as Chris says – as a practical response to disasters. We learned so many lessons and it’s crucial to record and share them.

Chris received a bravery award for his work at the CTV site. Yet doing so was confusing for him – he was glad to have this this difficult experience acknowledged, but he didn’t like being singled out and felt some kind of impostor syndrome. This huge event had, not surprisingly, a big effect on him. The conversation with Chessie forced him to open up and was like a dam bursting. Chris wasn’t okay. He was burnt out. But by acknowledging that and admitting vulnerability he was able to work through things.

I could easily write a lot more – about lost homes and Kaikōura, about advocating for rural GPs, and about the CTV families who spoke afterwards – reminding us that no one has been held responsible for the disaster. This was an incredible session. Kia ora Chessie, Chris and Bronwyn.

Chessie was interviewed on Radio New Zealand if you want to hear more.

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Free Radicals: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

In conjunction with UC Arts, Empress Theatre Collective presents Free Radicals – an evolving song cycle that celebrates the achievements of women in science and technology. This sold out show on Wednesday night was beautifully presented – a one hour long series of various musical compositions featuring female scientists combined by narration. Great care was taken in the creating the setting with tasteful lighting and imagery to welcome you into the small, intimate space. The atmosphere in the full house was expectant.

Erin Harrington entered to a beautifully lit room and began with a moving and succinct original poem. Her narrative thread drew all of the disparate pieces together in a great and flowing way. The show began with Ariana Tikao singing a song called ‘Bind the Black’ featuring taonga pūoro: pūrerehua, kōauau and pūtōrino. It made for a wonderful opening that felt very welcoming and warm. After some narration by Erin, The Swan Sisters’ voices combined beautifullly in their tribute to Maria Sybilla Merian, The Great Outdoors.

They were followed by Sheree Waitoa on vocal and guitar performing her song Connections, a great song that included te reo Māori and English lyrics  and honoured the famous actor and scientist, Hedy Lamarr.

The next work by Glenda Keam was a tribute to the female NASA scientists that were portrayed in the Hollywood movie Hidden Figures. A stark and interesting work featured four solos, and a trio for three vocalists and prepared piano.

Technology was featured in the next piece by Misfit Mod with a flowing and wonderful visual element that help to bind the atmospheric work with the audience.

Beatrice Tinsley, the astronomer who originally studied at Canterbury University, was the subject of the next song by Naomi Ferguson. The electronic soundscape was enhanced by Ferguson’s flowing and powerful melodies.

To end the show the narrator joined with a small choir to sing In Feminea Forma, a piece for voices and electronics by Rosa Elliott. The electronics in this piece and throughout were seamless and added to the well-curated atmosphere.

This show was excellent. I loved every piece, the variety, the atmosphere, and most of all the illuminating subject matter. Hopefully the show will have a life beyond the WORD Christchurch Festival.

This show is also on tonight and there are some tickets still available. Don’t miss out.

Alex Van den Broek
Media Studio Specialist

WORD Christchurch Festival: Black Marks on the White Page

With WORD Christchurch Festival at the forefront of my mind at the moment, having bought my tickets yesterday (and by the way the session Motherhood is selling out fast [SOLD OUT now! Ed.] ) I was intrigued to find an article by UK author Natasha Carthew about an idea for a Working Class Writers Festival in Britain.

On 12th July, Carthew tweeted to her 1,700 followers: “Comrades! This is a call to arms – we’ve got to get ourselves a #WorkingClassWriters Lit Fest! I’ve been doing the circuit and we’re a bit underrepresented int we?”

Carthew, who has written three books of poetry, and two YA books published by Bloomsbury, wants to ensure that publishing recognises writing from across the social spectrum.

She said: “I think it’s really important to enhance, encourage and increase representation from working class backgrounds, which can be quite underrepresented at other literary festivals. I feel we are an equally talented group of people that do not get enough exposure, young people from similar backgrounds especially need to have something to aspire to, something that is reflective of their society and writers they can relate to and look up to.”

The first thoughts that came to mind are would we have such a thing here, would we call it “Working Class”, do we think of class in the same way that they do in Britain? I grew up in a home where we referred to ourselves (proudly I might add) as Working Class, but it is not something you hear much today in New Zealand.

9780143770299Perhaps the closest comparison for New Zealand and the issues of inclusiveness/exclusion will be at the WORD session Black Marks on a White Page: A Roundtable...

Join contributors to last year’s superb anthology of Oceanic writing, Black Marks on the White Page,  for a roundtable discussion for Māori and Pasifika writers. Co-editor Tina Makereti, who worked on the book with Witi Ihimaera, will be joined by Victor Rodger, Nic Low, Paula Morris and Tusiata Avia to share tips on writing, and for a talanoa on the challenges and opportunities facing writers in Aotearoa and internationally.