Happy 80th birthday Caxton Press

A Caxton MiscellanyThe Caxton Press is 80 today.  It was launched on 10 June 1935 by John Drew and poet/typographer Denis Glover to publish New Zealand literature. Leo Bensemann had a long and fruitful association as a designer and illustrator with Caxton. Most of the decade’s best writers were first published by the company. Caxton Press tells the story on its website:

THE CAXTON CLUB was a colourful group of students, writing enthusiasts and amateur printers which operated a small printing press in the basement of the University Clock Tower, Worcester Street, in the early 1930s. In 1935, renowned New Zealand literary figure Denis Glover, together with a partner, borrowed £100 for a new press and formed The Caxton Press. They set up in an old wooden shop at 129 Victoria St where they stayed for fifteen years.

In 2013, Central Library Peterborough hosted A Caxton Miscellany – a Christchurch Art Gallery exhibition (see our photos).

A Caxton Miscellany
A Caxton Miscellany, Saturday 16 February 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013 -02-16-IMG_3708

One of the gems of our digital collection are The Group Catalogues, 1927 — 1977 as printed by Caxton Press. You can see their exquisite work closeup in these digital copies.

Cover of 19521953 copy of The Group catalogueCover of 1955Cover of 1958Cover of 1965

More on the Caxton Press

Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944
Denis Glover, founder of Caxton Press, with Book Week display in Alexander Turnbull Library. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1963/3385/9A-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23233944

History’s Shadow and the Life Beyond

How do you make the past come alive? How do you make the future real? Two reading sessions at the Auckland Writers Festival brought authors together to see how they answered these questions.

History shapes our behaviour, our culture, our landscape and stories. Four authors took the stage to showcase work that uses recent history as a backdrop for their novels and poetry.

Airini Beautrais, from New Zealand, was up first with a collection of poems from her unique Cover of 'Dear Neil Roberts' by Airini Beautraisperspective on life. She is interested in what parts of history we (as a culture, as individuals) remember, and why we remember events the way that we do, and the difference in remembering events that support the state and those that go against it. She wrote about Neil Roberts, a ‘punk rock anarchist’ and suicide bomber who detonated a bomb at the Wanganui Police Computer Centre in 1982. She was deeply discomforted by this story which led her to keep examining it through her poetry book Dear Neil Roberts.

Cover of The Impossible Knife of MemoryLaurie Halse Anderson, highly acclaimed young adult author from the United States, read from her latest book The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie had been speaking at the schools programme earlier in the week and praised the high quality and thoughtful questions that she’d received from New Zealand teenagers.

“We stumbled through those years badly,” she said, speaking about her father’s post traumatic stress and alcoholism after he returned from World War II, specifically the horrors of Dachau. She drew on these experiences when she found out that there were over 22 million living veterans in the United States, and The Impossible Knife of Memory explores what effects war and trauma can have on a family. She also drew inspiration from the Odyssey, saying that “the story of veterans coming home has been part of our culture as long as we have been making love or war.”

She read three sections, two from the point of view of a veteran and one from his teenage daughter, Hayley. “There is a bit of a love story for Hayley,” she explained, before reading. “Hope is the only thing that balances life out for anybody.”

Cover of 'In the light of what we know'Next up was Zia Haider Rahman, from Bangladesh, reading from his debut book In the Light of What We Know which is a fantastic title. He began by reading quotes from the beginning that set the tone for a story of exile and loss, then carried on with readings from his complex, glorious novel. It’s a story that sets out of explore the past decade, including the war in Afghanistan, and pulls together stories from all over the world: Kabul, London, New York, Islamabad, Oxford, Princeton, and Sylhet, covering such a broad range of subjects from love, philosophy, identity, finance, mathematics, cognitive science, to literature, and war.

Cover of 'Shifting Colours'Finally we had Fiona Sussman from South Africa, reading from her debut novel Shifting Colours. Fiona trained as a doctor, and helped set up the Auckland Charity Hospital. Shifting Colours is set in South Africa during apartheid and late twentieth century Britain, and the section she read sets up the scene for a heart-rending decision that a mother has to make about the life of her daughter.

Later on in the festival, we took a sharp step forward in time as another four great writers stepped up to talk about their visions of the future. They’re not easy futures, many of them are disquieting, but all show fantastic imagination.

Cover of 'MiStory'Philip Temple, another Kiwi author, got things started. Phillip has won a range of awards and writes extensively over fiction and non fiction. He read from his new book MiStory, his tenth novel. Set in Dunedin in the near future, it’s bleak, and it presses how important it is that we do something to save ourselves now. The book tackles climate change, dire economic circumstances, pandemics, government surveillance and more. It sounds like a great story, told in diary form, of an ordinary Kiwi bloke trying to make sense of his damaged world.

Cover of 'The Chimes'Anna Smaill published her first novel The Chimes to great acclaim and excellent reviews. Set in future London, in a time where people have lost language and memory, this novel tells the story of the main character Simon piecing his life together.

Anna had studied music and is a skilled violinist, and her familiarity with music came through in the lyrical way her story is put together. It’s also one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen this festival!

Cover of 'The Disestablishment of Paradise'Next we took a journey through time and into space, with sci-fi star Phillip Mann as he read from his first book since 1996, The Disestablishment of Paradise (with the charming subtitle ‘A novel in five parts plus documents‘.) It’s described as an ecological sci-fi thriller, set on Paradise, which is a “very nice planet… but visitors are very disturbed by it.”

“Paradise,” Phillip said, as he set the scene for his reading “is going rogue.”

Cover of 'Station Eleven'And finally one of my favourite new discoveries from this festival, Emily St John Mandel read from Station Eleven, her literary, post-apocalyptic, Shakespeare-studded, not-quite-horror. Not-quite-anything, really, as the novel refuses to fall neatly into any one genre. Twenty years after a strain of the flu wipes out most of the human population, we join a band of travelling Shakespearian actors and musicians as they tour from one pocket of humanity to the next.

Read:

Let Us Compare Mythologies

Although today in Canada is yesterday for us, September 21 is Leonard Cohen’s birthday – a special one – his 80th.

Cohen is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. His work has explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships and his 13th studio album will be released tomorrow.

In 1957 Folkways Records released the “Six Montreal Poets” album with A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Louis Dudek, F.R. Scott, A.M. Klein, and Leonard Cohen – all reading their own poetry on the record.  Leonard Cohen reads the following poems (recorded in 1957):

  • For Wilf and his house (1955)
  • Beside the shepherd (1956)
  • Poem (1955)
  • Lovers (1955)
  • The sparrows (1955)
  • Warning (1956)
  • Les Vieus (1954)
  • Elegy (1955)

All poems are from “Let Us Compare Mythologies

Listen to Six Montreal Poets.

Ngā Pounamu Māori explored

Whangia ka tupu, ka puawai

That which is nurtured, blossoms and grows

Christchurch City Libraries hold many taonga. Ngā Pounamu Māori Collection is one of them. Filled with history, art, mahi toi,  te Reo Māori, tikanga, kaupapa, whakapapa, politics, moemoea, traditions, kōrero, whānau me pūrākau.

Each library has someone who is the kaitiaki of that librarys’ Ngā Pounamu Collection (Ngā Kaiāwhina) and we recently shared some pukapuka from this collection.

This is what was on show. Quite a variety indeed!  We hope there will be some discovery moments for our blog readers as you venture into this awesome collection.

  • Native Land Court 1862-1887: a historical study, cases and commentary / Richard Boast, 346.043 BOA – fascinating history, history of the Maori Land Court and over 100 principal cases including text and introductory commentary explaining the case and its significance.
  • Ora Nui, Maori Literary Journalcover for Ora Nui – collection of different works from different authors, great starting point. (Available as an free downloadable eBook).
  • Choosing a Māori Name for your baby / Miriama Ohlson – transliterations and  traditional names.
  • Māori Agriculture, Elsdon Best – Interesting reading in context. A good start but does need to come with a proviso, also available online. Library disclaimer: Elsdon Best has come under criticism over some of his work.
  • Apirana Taylor – poet, short story and novel writer. A Canoe in Midstream
  • cover for parihaka - the art of passive resistanceParihaka the art of passive resistance,- edited by Te Miringa Hohaia, Gregory O’Brien and Lara Strongman –  well written and capturing interest
  • Ben Brown< “amazing” performance poet.
  • Hone Tuwhare Tuwhare – poetry made into music. Not by wind ravaged (Parihaka)
  • Te Rongoa Māori / PME Williams
  • Tikao Talks / Teone Taare Tikao – a must read! Traditions and tales as told by Teone Tikao (Rapaki) to Herries Beattie. Related information can be found in Tī Kōuka Whenua.
  • A Booming in the night / Benjamin Brown and Helen Taylor – beautiful!! Childrens. More from these two.
  • cover for Ko Wai Kei te Huna?Ko Wai E Huna Ana? / Satoru Ōnishi – Childrens, Te Reo Māori publication
  • Toddling into Te Reo(series), reprinted 2014 by Huia Print – Childrens – nice to have the translations at the back, good to let parents know about this, colourful and thoughtful
  • He aha tenei? / Sharon Holt – Childrens Reo Singalong Written in Te reo Māori and includes translation and CD.
  • Five Māori Painters / 759.993 – gorgeous!! See the exhibition and interviews.
  • Matters of the Heart / Angela Wanhalla – A history of interracial marriage in New Zealand. Evocative of the time periods, good for seeing family connections
  • Cover of The Last MaopoThe last Maopo / Wiremu Tanai Kaihau Maopo – WW1 commemorations, letters that he sent home to a friend about his experiences as part of the second Maori contingent in WW1, personal story woven into it. 2014 publication
  • e Whai / Briar O’Connor – the art/activity of making string patterns – fun, informative and nostalgic.

 

 

 

More recommendations  from Ngā Pounamu Māori.

 

cover for Mau Mokocover from huia histories of māoricover from Once upon a time in aotearoa

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me he maunga teitei

Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain.

Poetry competition winners

Poetry-DayThe judges have conferred, and we have the winners for our National Poetry Day competition 2014. Thanks to you all for a bumper crop of fantastic entries. Poetry is clearly in rude health in Christchurch!

First place goes to Stephen Davies for Tongue tied. Congratulations to Stephe, his prize is book vouchers to the value of $100.

The runner up is Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road by Catherine Fitchett. Catherine’s prize is a $50 book voucher.

Here are the two winning entries:

Tongue tied (by Stephen Davies)

There she was again!
Can’t stand it …
Heart palpitating – beating fast.
I’m breaking up Scottie,
Can’t hold it together,
Can’t last.
Palms sweating,
Perspiration on my forehead,
Breathing shallow and irregular.
Quick!!
Re-run the memory video.

Snatches of conversation – heard words.
SHE SPOKE – hung onto every syllable.
The way blossoms cling to trees.
Caught the scent of her perfume,
Loved the way she walked and talked,
And how her hand (mine) stroked her hair.

Couldn’t meet her eyes,
Didn’t know she knew I was there.
She’s two metres away.
Quick!
DO SOMETHING!!

Here it comes.
A damn of words,
Stirred, shaken and squashed down,
Bottled up torture
Waiting to erupt.

Engage your mouth before your brain
Before it’s too late.
Let it explode
With the suddenness and force
Of the ripcord of a parachute,
Struggling,

Thrusting,
Bustling,
Bursting through
Dry, cracked, parched lips and
Sandpaper tongue,
Crying out …

Too late!
She’s gone.

 

Gem and Mineral Society Hall, Waltham Road (by Catherine Fitchett)

Each time I pass it grows less,
two patient workmen unbuilding
brick by brick. Pallets at hand
to accept the neat stacks, two by two
this way then that. Eyes closed,
I rewind each image, build it once again.
The walls rise row by row. The roof replaced,
order restored to rubble.
People walk backwards, out and in,
out and in. Dresses grow long
and sweep the ground, passing cars
give way to horse and cart.
The hall grows new,
the lodge regains possession
There’s greatgrandfather Samuel
zipping backwards
in all his Masonic splendour.

I call to him,
but he doesn’t stop,
the rewinding gains pace,
all the costumed figures
stuttering backwards
up the gangplanks
the sails unlowered,
the ships reversing
through the harbour entrance
the swamp undrained
the great moas flashing past
and the hills shooting up
to three times their present height,
the lava roiling up the slopes into the crater
and finally a great stillness
as the land sinks beneath the sea.

Wind it forward again, then
leave them all in the past,
let the building rise and, shaken, fall
let the workmen have it
to finish their patient unbuilding.

Fiercely Hopeful – Anis Mojgani at WORD Christchurch

I’d never heard of Anis Mojgani before, yet when I was looking through the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival programme the title of his session grabbed me: Fiercely Hopeful. It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes:

And I said to myself: That’s true, hope needs to be like barbed wire to keep out despair, hope must be a minefield. (Yehuda Amichai)

It’s a quote that’s been banging about in the back of my mind since the earthquake. In post-quake Christchurch, hope has to be fierce.

Anis is a two-time US National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. Promising, I thought, so I looked up one of Anis’s poems and read it through. It was one of his most acclaimed poems, Shake the Dust, and started with the line – this is for the fat girls. I was hooked. It’s a powerful, passionate poem written down; hearing it out loud was incredible.

This is for the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-god. Shake the dust.

Anis had plenty of fans in the audience; fans whose excitement spilled over, fans who’d flown in from Auckland to see him, fans of all ages and genders. There were new fans who had first heard him read earlier in the festival and wanted more, old fans who had watched his poetry on YouTube over and over and wanted more. He performed Here I Am, This is how she makes me feel, Razi’s Lemon Tree, Galumph, My library has seventeen books, Shake the Dust and at the request of the audience, Come Closer.

He talked about Christchurch and the links between us and his home of New Orleans. Right now, from August 23rd to September 3rd, is the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; Anis empathises with what Christchurch is going through in our own journey of survival and recovery. He mentioned a similar serendipitous note: his birthday is the 22nd of February,  a date carved in the history of our city. He spoke of the dark times that as humans we all go through, and how it always feels like we are the only ones to have ever felt this pain, how unlikely it seems that anyone else is suffering in the same way as we are suffering. He spoke of coming out the other end of the darkest times.

I am like you.
I too at times am filled with fear.
But like a hallway we must find the strength to walk through it.
Walk through this with me.
Walk through this with me.

(From ‘Come Closer’)

Anis loves words and it shows in his art. He is approachable, warm, magnetic, and at the signing table he asks your name like he genuinely wants to know you. He’s definitely an artist, and has a real skill for connecting with people. The book table completely sold out of his books.

After the session, still buzzing from the contagious passion of the audience and the vividness and generosity of his presence, I walked back through the city to the bus exchange and thought: this is a strange and difficult city we live in, but I am fiercely hopeful about our future here.

And questions are the only answers we need to know that we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child
Asking, why is two plus three always equal to five?
Where do people go to when they die?
What made the beauty of the moon?
And the beauty of the sea?
Did that beauty make you?
Did that beauty make me?
Will that make me something?
Will I be something?
Am I something?

And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.

(From ‘Here I Am’)

If you’re interested in spoken-word or slam poetry check out:

WORD Christchurch

 

 

National Poetry Day – Friday 22 August 2014

National Poetry Day is a one-day celebration of poetry run each year in conjunction with the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It takes place on Friday 22 August 2014. There are lots of things happening this year so get your poetry on.

National Poetry DayNational Poetry Day competition 2014

Write an original piece of poetry and drop it into your local library or enter online by emailling entries to competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com for a chance to win prizes.

Any style or topic, 200 word limit. You can enter as many poems as you like. The first prize will be book vouchers to the value of $100. There will also be a $50 book voucher for the runner up. Entries open Monday 28 July and close 5pm on National Poetry Day (22 August 2014). Winners will be announced Monday 8 September 2014.

See conditions.

More poetry competitions you can enter.

More Christchurch events

Information from Booksellers New Zealand.

Christchurch – Poetic Licence

When: Friday 15 August, 5.30pm -7.30pm 
Where: Sydenham Room, South Library, Christchurch
What: Following the success of last year, South Island Writers (SIWA) and Airing Cupboard Women Poets would like to once again invite you to polish your best poem and air it in public to get you warmed up for the 2014 National Poetry Day celebrations. An Open Mic, open to all fabulous emerging or published poets – SIWA and Airing Cupboard give you the licence! Bring your friends and family. Sign up at the door if you’re reading. Drinks and nibbles provided. See you there!  (Note: An official warm-up event, the week before National Poetry Day)
Entry details: Free entry. Sign in at the door if you’re reading

Christchurch – Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology: Christchurch Launch

When: Wednesday 20 August, 6:00–7:00pm.
Where: Room 3, Upper Riccarton Library, 71 Main South Rd, Sockburn, Christchurch
What: The year-long 2014 Poems4Peace programme provides a platform to make contemporary poetic voices heard and contribute to influencing a whole new generation of peace-makers in NZ and beyond. Earlier in 2014, Printable Reality and Splice, in association with New Zealand Poetry Society and Michael King Writers’ Centre ran a poetry competition as part of  the project. General public, local and international poets were invited to compose poetry expressing the concept of inner-peace and peace for our world. The results are collected together in the Poems4Peace 2014 Poetry Anthology, which will have its Christchurch Launch in the lead-up to National Poetry Day. Christchurch poets will read their poems and books will be available for sale. Everybody welcome!

Christchurch – Poetry for Lunch

When: Friday 22 August, 12:00pm -1:00pm
Where: Canterbury University Bookshop, University Drive, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
What: Join UBS for its traditional National Poetry Day celebration with readings from wonderful local poets Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Roger Hickin, Frankie Macmillan, Ben Brown and James Norcliffe. Free coffee vouchers for the first 20 audience members.
Entry details: Free.

Poetry at WORD Christchurch

WORD ChristchurchWORD Christchurch Writers and Readers festival starts on 27 August, and it has a great lineup of poetry events including:

Twitter Poetry Night

Twitter Poetry Night will be teaming up with The Pantograph Punch and publishing a poetry mix-tape and then a favourite NZ-poem-themed Poetry Night on Sunday 24 August, at 8pm. It will be a ‘favourite NZ poem’ themed night. What you need to do is record yourself reading one of your favourite New Zealand poems, then send the recording to @PoetryNightNZ.

Find out more

My five poets challenge

Logo of National Poetry DayIt is well known that my high school English teachers almost killed poetry for me. However, I never quite gave up on it and I am always very happy when I stumble upon a new poem. These serendipitous discoveries usually occur when I’m reading a book or watching a film.

But National Poetry Day is coming up and I have decided that 2014 will be the year of my five poets challenge. This year I am going to seek out five poets that I didn’t ‘do’ in high school English and read them for the sheer pleasure of reading poetry.

Cover of Sam Hunt's KnucklebonesWhere should I begin? I love hearing Sam Hunt reading poetry, but I have read very few of his poems. I think he should go on my list.

I always wanted to read  Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I like the opening two lines: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree”. I don’t think I read Coleridge in high school English. Maybe that should go on my list too.

Cover of The Darling NorthThey say you should never judge a book by its cover.  However I do like to cover of  The Darling North by Anne Kennedy. In 2013 she  won the New Zealand Post Book Poetry Award. I reserved a copy of her book and it has just arrived, so she is on my list.

When I was still living in Melbourne, I went through a Merlin and King Arthur fad. I read everything I could lay hand to and I bought a shabby second hand copy of Tennyson‘s Idylls of the King. Before I got around to reading it, my Arthurian fad passed and the book collected dust on the bookshelf. If I read Tennyson in school, I can’t have been paying much attention. There are 12 poems in The Idylls of the King, which is  based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and the Mabinogion. I own both of these books. I could re-read these two books or I could read Tennyson. I think I’ll read Tennyson.

What about my fifth poet? One of my grandfathers liked the poem The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I haven’t read that particular poem, but we did ‘do’ Longfellow at school, so I guess I’ll have to leave him for later.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote short stories which I read in form two and form three English, however I have never read his poetry.  Jasper Fforde often referred to The Raven in his Thursday Next books, but I’m not sure I want to read a book of his poems.

World War I started 100 years ago and amid the death and destruction, there was some very emotional poetry written.  Though we didn’t ‘do’ the war poets in English, we did read them in 20th century Australian History.  If I chose a war poet, you might think I was cheating, so I’ll leave them on the shelf for you.

T0 find my final poet I’ll:

  1. Check the catalogue.
  2. Look up Poetry & Short Story Reference Center in the Source.
  3. Ask you.

So, dear reader, which poet do you recommend?

 

 

 

Film Festival Literary Connections

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.

 

Hunting with our Artemis – literary resources

ArtemisArtemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt and the wilderness which makes her a fitting namesake for our latest electronic arrival: Gale Artemis: Literary Sources! Artemis lets you cross search all of Gale Cengage’s literary resources in one search. Through Artemis you can search all of these at once:

  • LitFinder: full text poems, short stories, essays, speeches, plays and novels. LitFinder offers the written works of more than 80,000 authors;
  • Literature Resource Center: full text articles, critical essays and reviews and overviews of frequently studied works;
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: access to a subset of electronic reference books that cover literature.

It is sort of like doing a  Google search on literature but you get more relevant and authoritative results all with proper punctuation. It doesn’t matter if you are searching because you have an assignment, or if you are trying to remember the rest of that poem you can only recall snatches of – there is something for everyone.

I will leave you with a beauty of a quote about literature by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald…

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

Sigh! You can access this resource from any library or from home through the Source using your library card number and password/PIN.