Last Word Whisky and Poetry — WORD Christchurch

Hats off to whoever decided to combine whisky with poetry, what a fantastic idea! Judging by the crowded seats of the Last Word I wasn’t the only one to think so. Perfect for a brisk winter afternoon.

WORD at the Last Word.

Sarah Jane Barnett kicked off the session by reading from a longer poem about coping with the devastation of your childhood home, something I’m sure many can relate to here in Christchurch:

She points to questions she has highlighted in bold yellow. “You need to answer these too.” She smiles. Her hand rests lightly. “Should I read them out?” she asks, as if lightness is a face she often wears. I say, I have good English, I’m a translator. But she reads to me, pointing and smiling.

David Howard read some opaque poetry:

If you want love to stay, shut up our house, covering the furniture with dirty sheets. When the moon was full, he could see it in the pond. Still, if he pulled the shutters there would be no colour, just the memory that is language. Bad language.

Steven Toussaint explored the influence of Dante:

Voluptuous, the resultant species, yes, but not itself the base whereby all voices balance. If the subjects meet before the finial seat is crossed, the gaze is lost in the ardour of all others.

And then luckily we returned to poetry I could understand with the moving, sometimes alarming words of Emma Neale:

Emma Neale performing at the Last Word.
Emma Neale performing at the Last Word.

and it’s the moment walking past
an unlit downtown doorway
when footsteps start their time-bomb tick
behind her:

stay calm, she thinks,
no sudden moves.

Find books in our collection by:

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The Stars are on Fire – WORD Christchurch

It was the first time I’ve been in the reopened Isaac Theatre Royal. My partner said the last thing he saw there was Public Enemy. I don’t know what I had been to – but we were back, and very happy to be at this WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival gala event.

WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala - Isaac Theatre Royal
WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala – Isaac Theatre Royal

WORD Literary Director Rachael King kicked off proceedings with a sense of the festival’s themes and the good news that ticket sales have already busted all records.

Then it was time for broadcaster Kim Hill to introduce the “marvellous array” of performers. She regretted not being previously advertised host John Campbell, but hey Kim we love you (and your broadcasting live from Christchurch today with WORD guest makes us love you all the more).

First up we had Sir Tipene O’Regan with the oldest of the Polynesian creation stories.

All stories of creation start in the dark.

We learned about the places and landmarks of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) in an informative – and really entertaining – journey. There was an element of pride in our place as coming from the first marriage of the first son. Yes, we are “sanctimoniously senior”.

Sir Tipene O'Regan at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Sir Tipene O’Regan at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala

Caitlin Doughty has done more than 1000 cremations. She got us to put our hands up if we are getting cremated. Around 70% choose that option. In the United States, it’s more like 50%, while Japan has a percentage around 99.99%.

Caitlin took us on a “What to expect when you’re expecting to be cremated”. Not the gold standard simulation that you can experience in China, where you actually go on the crematory ride and feel the imaginary flames but … Audience member Cathy got to be “Cathy the Corpse” and we went along with her ride in her “alternative container”. There is a cone of flame, the temperature goes up to 815 degrees Celsius and that’s applied for around 45 minutes.

The rest of Caitlin’s speech included “flaming skull”, “glowing red bones” and “cremulator”.

Stephen Daisley won big at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His speech had the  flummoxed feeling you’d expect when someone has been writing for a long time and finds the reviews (which he read out)  a bit staggering.

Stephen Daisley at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Stephen Daisley at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala

Tusiata Avia performed two poems from her new collection Fale Aitu | Spirit House.
It was made use of the idea of Aranui – the great path:

I am an Aranui girl.

Her second poem built on the repetition of “my body” and was utterly hypnotic:

My body is not an apology.

It was an powerful and absorbing perfomance.

Tusiata Avia at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Tusiata Avia at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala

Steve Hely told a good yarn from his book The Wonder Trail True Stories From Los Angeles to the End of the World. He talks about the landscape of a particularly barren place in Chile, and a 7 hour bus trip with mine workers, and the one woman on the bus puts on a movie – Austenland. Why, why, why? And he amusingly considers why the heck someone might play that particular movie to a bunch of blokes.

Ivan E. Coyote. Oh Ivan. I think everyone fell in love with you. I did, “full on smitten”. We were as taken with them, as they were with the fabulous lineup of  “butch femmes” from the Yukon. I confidentally predict a flurry of ticket purchases for the rest of Ivan’s festival appearances.

Ivan Coyote at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Ivan Coyote at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala

Hollie Fullbrook aka Tiny Ruins soothed the savage breast with a new song about a bus trip with someone just out of prison, a song about being under the same cover.

Hollie Fullbrook "Tiny Ruins" at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala
Hollie Fullbrook “Tiny Ruins” at WORD Christchurch The stars are on fire gala

Take a bow, stars.
The Stars are on fire gala

See our photos from the Gala.

More sessions featuring the Gala Guests

Sir Tipene O’Regan appears in:
Kōrero Pūrakau : Ngāi Tahu Storytelling, Sat 27 Aug, 3.15pm
Read books by Sir Tipene in our collection.

Caitlin Doughty is appearing in:
Embracing Death, Sat 27 Aug, 9.30am
Ask a Mortician: Caitlin Doughty, Sun 28 Aug, 2pm
The Nerd Degree, Sun 28 Aug, 5pm
Read books by Caitlin in our collection.

Stephen Daisley is appearing in:
Writing War Stories, Sat 27 Aug, 3.15pm
Coming Rain, Sun 28 Aug, 11am
Read books by Stephen in our collection.

Tusiata Avia is appearing in:
Hear My Voice, Sat 27 Aug, 5.30pm
Spirit House/ Unity, Sun 28 Aug, 2pm
Read books by Tusiata in our collection.

Steve Hely is appearing in:
How to be a Writer: Steve Hely, Sat 27 Aug, 3.30pm
The Great NZ Crime Debate, Sat 27 Aug, 7.30pm
The State of America, Sun 28 Aug, 12.30pm
Read books by Steve in our collection.

Ivan E. Coyote is appearing in:
Taku Kupu Ki Te Ao: My Word to the World, Sat 27 Aug, 1-4pm
Hear My Voice, Sat 27 Aug, 5.30pm
The Storyteller: Ivan E. Coyote, Sun 28 Aug, 11am
Read books by Ivan in our collection.

Hollie Fullbrook is appearing in:
Workshop: Songwriting with Hollie Fullbrook, Sat 27 Aug, 9.30am
Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?, Sat 27 Aug, 12.30pm
In Love With These Times, Sat 27 Aug, 7.30pm
Find music by Hollie in our collection.

WORD Christchurch

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.

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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.

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.

 

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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

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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

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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

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Quick questions with Helen Lowe – 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.

Helen Lowe is a Christchurch-based novelist and poet. The second book in her The Wall of Night series won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. Book three Daughter of Blood was published earlier this year.

Helen Lowe. Photo by John McCombe. Image supplied.
Helen Lowe. Photo by John McCombe. Image supplied.

What do you like about Christchurch?

I am a Christchurch person, but I have to say that the “what I like about it” question is one I often struggle with in the post-earthquake environment. However, one thing that I have always loved about Christchurch is its wide and very blue skies — not infrequently very blue, at any rate. I also love its trees, especially the city’s heritage of English trees and the seasonal change and interest they bring to the landscape. So that is why I can’t help feeling really sad when I see them being cut down so indiscriminately in the central city in particular, where greenspace is being replaced by sterile (and very expensive) stonescapes, all purportedly in the name of “recovery.”

What do you think about libraries?

I love libraries and always have done so. A little like the wardrobe that leads into Narnia, they open doors into so many fantastic worlds. Long may they continue, say I — and I hope the Crown frees up the land they promised in the central city very soon (in exchange for the old library site going to the convention centre project, I believe), so that the city’s new central library can finally get underway! Nearly six years without a central library is quite simply, six years too long.

What would be your “desert island book”?

That is such a hard question because of course there can be only one…So that means we’re talking about a book I would never get tired of, no matter how often I read it. For that reason, I think it might have to be the Pears Encyclopedia I’ve had since I was a child. It’s compact in size but full of all sorts of useful information, including basic medical information, a full collection of completely out-of-date maps, which in itself renders them interesting, as well as a section on the Greek myths and legends that I loved as a child and still find a very useful reference.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I always think that I am the world’s most unsurprising person, although that may only be because I have an insider’s low-down on all the Helen Lowe facts so do not consider any of them surprising. Although sometimes, harking back to Question One, I suspect it may be surprising that I still live in Christchurch despite all that the earthquakes and their aftermath have visited upon us.

Helen Lowe appears in:
Making it Overseas, Sun 28 Aug, 3pm

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