Celebrating National Poetry Day at New Brighton Library – Saturday 25 August, 2pm to 3pm

New Brighton Library is excited to be hosting four distinguished Christchurch poets who will present a reading to celebrate National Poetry Day.

Although officially National Poetry Day is Friday 24 August, we decided that we would capture a bigger audience for the reading by holding it on the day after, Saturday 25 August. The weekend market brings people into New Brighton in great numbers and hopefully some of the shoppers are also poetry lovers or, at least, poetry curious. Many Mums and Dads are also free from the constraints of work and may want to introduce their children to the power of poetry when it leaps off the page and springs from the mouths of the poets themselves. Many people believe that poetry is at its most effective when delivered orally and consumed aurally. And the poets promise to be family-friendly.

So New Brighton Library invites you to cast aside your preconceptions and any prejudices against poetry that your high school English teacher may have unwittingly cultivated and let these four wonderful poets show you that poetry can be exciting, funny, moving and thought-provoking.

The reading takes place at 2pm on Saturday 25 August and the poets are:

Jeni Curtis
Jeni Curtis. Image supplied.

Jeni Curtis is a Christchurch writer who has had short stories and poetry published in various publications including takahē, NZPS anthologies 2014 to 2017, JAAM, Atlanta Review, The London Grip, and the Poetry NZ Yearbook. In 2016 she received a mentorship from the New Zealand Society of Authors. She is secretary of the Canterbury Poets Collective, and chair of the takahē trust. She is also co-editor of poetry for takahē, and editor of the Christchurch Dickens Fellowship magazine Dickens Down Under.

David Gregory
David Gregory. Image supplied.

David Gregory has had three books published in New Zealand, Always Arriving and Frame of Mind, both by Sudden Valley Press and Push by Black Doris Press. His poetry has appeared in a goodly number of publications and anthologies and he has performed his work here and in the UK. He has been involved with the promotion of poetry with for over 20 years. He is also an editor for Sudden Valley Press which has produced over 32 high quality poetry books.

Heather McQuillan
Heather McQuillan. Image supplied.

Heather McQuillan is Director at The School for Young Writers. She loves writing in many forms from poetry to short fiction to novels and plays. She has a Master of Creative Writing. Some of her work will appear in the upcoming Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand which will be launched at the WORD Christchurch Festival.

Jeffery Paparoa Holman
Jeffery Paparoa Holman. Image supplied.

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman writes poetry, memoir and history. His most recent works are Blood Ties: New and Selected Poems 1963-2016 (Canterbury University Press, 2017) and Dylan Junkie, his Bob Dylan fanboy poems (Makaro Press, 2017).

If you fancy a foretaste of the treats to come, some of their books can be found in the Christchurch City Libraries:

Push by David GregoryMind over Matter by Heather McQuillanNest of Lies by Heather McquillanDylan Junkie by Jeffrey Paparoa HolmanFly Boy by JPHShaken Down 6.3 by JPHAs Big as a FatherThe Lost Pilot

Find works in our collection by:

Read Ray’s post on National Poetry Day, including NZ poets at WORD Christchurch Festival – Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 2 September.

National Poetry Day – Friday 24 August 2018

Aotearoa has been celebrating National Poetry Day on the last Friday in August for over 20 years now! This year it’s on Friday 24 August, and across the country, you can engage in all kinds of events, workshops and competitions. There’s even people marking the occasion with poetry readings in as far flung places as Edinburgh and Berlin.

Closer to home, Ōtautahi has some really cool events you can check out, whether you’re into attending a writing workshop, seeing poetry performed, or entering a competition. If you’re into the competition side of things, make sure you map out submission dates in your calendar now – there’s lots going on with lots of different due dates, but if you leave it till the week of Poetry Day, you might be too late!

Late in the evening, there’s a fiery and feisty evening of poetry planned at the Space Academy, on St Asaph Street – ‘We Are The Persistence’ features Tusiata Avia, Ray Shipley, Alice Andersen, Rebecca Nash and Isla Martin.

If you’re looking for events that are a little more interactive, you could check out the Great Wall of Poetry – a giant display of a diverse range of local poetry – at University Bookshop, Ilam Campus. You can go along and read the work on the wall, and you can also submit your own poems.

UBS is also hosting a poetry workshop with local legend Kerrin P. Sharpe (whose new book, ‘Louder’, is being released at the end of the month). The hour-long workshop, from 12.30-1.30pm, will be full of writing exercises and feedback, with an opportunity for the work you create to be published in UBS’s inaugural National Poetry Day online collection!

Warm-up and wrap-up events happening before and after National Poetry Day

If you’re school age (year 5 to 13) you might like to check out the Young Writers Poetry Pentathlon on Thursday 23 August – a game show crossed with a writing class! Sounds wild.

And the day after National Poetry Day, the fine folk at Hagley Writers Institute are hosting two Saturday daytime workshops so you can take all the inspiration from the previous day and turn it into a poetic masterpiece.

Christchurch City Libraries are of course getting in on the poetry action with a daytime, all-ages, free event on Saturday 25 August at lovely New Brighton Library from 2pm-3pm, featuring readings from four local poets: Jeni Curtis, Heather McQuillan, David Gregory, and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.

Explore the full list of events across New Zealand.

COMPETITIONS

Nationally, there are some great and creative poetry competitions to get your teeth sunk into.

My favourite ones include:

National Poetry Day is an opportunity for lovers of poetry to spend the day writing, listening, and getting inspired; but it’s also a day of discovery and new ideas for folks who may have found poetry a bit hard to engage with previously. New Zealand has so many wonderful poets from diverse and wonderful backgrounds, and if you take the time this National Poetry Day to encounter something new, you won’t regret it!

New Zealand poetry at WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Find works in our collection by these New Zealand poets appearing at the WORD Christchurch Festival from Wednesday 28 August to Sunday 2 September:

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See more poetry events at WORD Christchurch.

Ray
Upper Riccarton

Curate Your Own Personal Film Festival (from the Library DVD Collection)

The Press reporter Charlie Gates wrote a fascinating article about the decline in DVD rental stores in Christchurch: Ghosts and survivors in fading DVD market. There may be fewer places to hire DVDs from, but you can still get ’em at your local library!

Because I am decidedly average at getting to the movies, the library DVD collection is there to rectify my movie fails. I watched The Last Jedi recently, re-watched the beautiful Japanese animated time-travel body swap movie Your Name, and am looking forward to watching Lady Bird and Phantom Thread.

DVDs - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
DVDs at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre. Flickr Sumner-2017-08-18-DSC03137

This led me to make my own list of an imaginary Film Fest of recent(ish) NZ docos!

New Zealand Docos

No Ordinary Sheila

The story of this writer, illustrator, natural historian and outdoors adventurer Sheila Natusch.

Spookers

“Every weekend come rain, hail or shine, this diverse group of amateur performers unite to terrify punters at the southern hemisphere’s largest scream park, situated in a former psychiatric hospital. Director Florian Habicht reveals the transformative and paradoxically lifesaving power of belonging to a community that celebrates fear. “

Poi E

“With humour, energy and emotion, the movie Poi e is the story of how that iconic song gave pride to generations of New Zealanders.”

My Year With Helen

“With unique access to high-ranking candidate Helen Clark, award-winning filmmaker Gaylene Preston casts a wry eye on proceedings as the United Nations turns itself inside-out choosing a new Secretary-General.”

McLaren

The story of Formula One motor racing team originator Bruce McLaren “A fearless racing driver, a visionary and brilliant engineer”.

Pecking Order

“Join members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in the lead up to the NZ National Championships, as they battle history and each other in a quest for glory and for the love of their birds.”

Seven Rivers Walking

“With walkers, rafters, farmers and fishing folk, we journey the alpine to spring rivers of Canterbury. Exploring above and below the surfaces, uncovering ways through our current freshwater crisis. This lyrical documentary from New Zealand is an intimate portrait of the struggles around water – globally the most precious resource of our time. ”

Tickled

“After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company. “

The Art of Recovery

“As demolition gangs reduce ruins to rubble, a dynamic group of artists, innovators and entrepreneurs are bringing life back to the streets of post-quake Christchurch, empowering the people and creating a promising future for a dynamic new city. ”

Hip Hop-eration

“These Hip-hoppers may each be almost a century young, but for Kara (94), Maynie (95) and Terri (93), the journey to the Las Vegas World Hip Hop Dance Championships is just the beginning of a life’s journey. ”

Find New Zealand documentary films in our collection.

 

A fiction lover’s mid-year review

2018 is screaming past at quite a rate and I have had the pleasure of filling this time with some quality reading!

I’ve made a list of the novels that I have enjoyed so far in 2018 and made comments on each so you can better decide whether they might be for you – my guess is that they’re so good you’ll want to read all of them!

There’s a decent representation of my favourite authors here too – the universe smiled upon us this year for new books from amazing authors. I was particularly excited to get a hold of First Person, the latest from the great Tasmanian Richard Flanagan. He’s a Booker Prize winner for his 2013 novel Narrow Road to the Deep North, and could go again with First Person, it’s very VERY good!

And another great Australian author Tim Winton; I was eagerly awaiting the chance to read The Shepherd’s Hut, another triumph for the doyen of Australian literary fiction.

And then there was The Free by Willy Vlautin. His economy and direct use of language, and his ability to accurately depict the struggles of everyday rural and poor America makes him one of the most exciting American authors working today, in my humble opinion, and he’s producing consistently outstanding work.

And most recently I’ve finally gotten my hands on Macbeth by Jo Nesbo! Hogarth Shakespeare have really nailed it by engaging Nesbo to do Macbeth and it’s definitely one of my highlights for the year – that and Flanagan’s First Person will be hard to top!

I’ve also included some modern sci-fi, some new Scandi-Noir, some historical fiction from NZ, and a classic from Kurt Vonnegut – and I’ll let you read about them yourself 🙂 (Please note that a number of these titles are also available in eBook or eAudiobook formats, so you’ve got plenty of options!)

2018 – The Best of Fiction…. so far!

List created by DevilStateDan

The highlights of my explorations through the fiction collection of Christchurch City Libraries for the first half of 2018. Some titles are new, some have been out for decades, all of them are great!

Cover of First person by Richard FlanaganFirst Person – A struggling writer gets an opportunity to ghost-write the memoir of a notorious con man in 1990s Australia but the road is a slippery one and lines become blurred as our man becomes ever deeper involved.

This is arguably Richard Flanagan’s greatest work to date, and he’s definitely entrenched himself at the top of the heap of contemporary authors.

Cover of Macbeth by Jo NesboMacbeth – This is obviously a retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and what a brilliant treatment and with Jo Nesbo as an inspired choice for author. It’s so obvious to me now that Macbeth was MADE for the Scandi-Noir genre treatment. It’s gritty, dark, violent. Full of power, betrayal, and characters walking the fine line between sanity and madness. For this story Macbeth is head of SWAT in a dangerous and corrupt town and together with his mistress, Lady, the rags-to-riches casino entrepreneur, they embark on a powerplay to seize control of the city. But Macbeth has a sketchy past full of drug abuse and violence and as he relapses things get out of control, people get killed, lines get blurred…

Cover of The shepherd's hut by Tim WintonThe Shepherd’s Hut – The doyen of Australian literary fiction has done it again with this book. It’s the very real account of a young man forced by circumstance to take to the roads and outback of rural Western Australia. Such brilliant descriptive writing will have you smelling the eucalypt in the air, and hearing the crispy arid saltlands crunching underfoot. Jaxie is running and he’s got a vague destination in mind – north. And he’s got to survive the perils of rural Australia, criminals, and the very land that seems to want to kill him from heat, thirst or animal attack. An outstanding book from a great Australian author and written in vernacular language too!

Cover of Machine learning by Hugh Howey

Machine Learning – A set of short sci-fi stories from the author of the super popular ‘Silo’ Series. Hugh Howey is one of the best contemporary science fiction authors working today and these stories are thought provoking, dark, ominous, and challenging. He features some stories from the world of ‘Silo’ as well as stories of AI, Aliens, Virtual Worlds, and some Fantasy too. Beaut writer, beaut stories!

Cover The free by Willy VlautinThe Free – Another winner from one of my favourite authors writing today. It’s a snapshot of everyday life in middle America amongst a group of individuals all experiencing life differently. The solo man keeping two jobs to stay afloat, the nurse who has seen too much and has a strained relationship with her mentally ill father, and there’s Leroy, an injured soldier who drifts between consciousness and another place. The characters all struggle in their way to navigate life and retain their dignity and sense of self, and the authors minimalist writing style is stark and very effective at conveying they way in which real people communicate with each other. If you like the human experience warts-and-all then give this a go!

Cover of The melody by Jim CraceThe Melody – This story centres around an ageing singer/performer who was once a celebrated entertainer commanding full houses of societys elite. Nowadays he shuffles around suffering from the recent death of his loving wife, but then thing take a sinister turn when he’s attacked in his own home by a creature of unknown origin. His world is challenged as he negotiates his way around the incident and who he once was, who he is now, and what his future holds. Supremely well written with great use of language.

Medusa – An outstanding addition to the world of Scandi-Noir and one of the best I’ve read. Solid character building, quick paced action, and interwoven plot of suspicion and intrigue, and a series of grisly crimes in rural Norway – everything you could want in a crime novel! Medusa

Cover of One way by Simon MordenOne Way – What do you do when you want to colonise another planet, say Mars for instance?!? Well you could take a leaf from the book of British colonialism and send convicts to do the hard yards before the rich and elite arrive – and that’s just what America has done in this new sci-fi adventure. A small team of “dangerous” felons are recruited to build the first habitation on the red planet, what could go wrong…? A murder perhaps, and with nowhere to run it’s a spacey-whodunnit! Good writing and full of wit, if you like ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir or his follow up ‘Artemis’ then you’ll get a kick out of ‘One Way’!

Cover of Only killers and thieves by Paul HowarthOnly Killers and Thieves – A great debut from a new author that really captures the Australian Gothic story. It’s the story of two young men, not boys but barely men, after a traumatic family event that sees them on a journey not of their choosing. The book describes the brutality of life in colonial Australia, the treatment of the indigenous population, and the rigourous adherence to the ‘old ways’ in this vastly alien and seemingly lawless world. If you like your reading to be vivid, violent, confronting, and troublesome then you’ll sure like this one!

Cover of The sons by Anton SvenssonThe Sons – On its initial appearance it seems like another addition to the massive genre of Scandinavian crime novels, but it’s much more and can stand alone as a piece of literary fiction deserving of high praise. Three young men have just served sentences for aggravated armed robbery. They are brothers, raised by the petty criminal and domestic abuser father that they committed their last crime with. On the final sons release we follow what happens next as they try to recreate some kind of normality – whatever “normality” means for each of them though is very different. Starting out I was worried that because I didn’t really like any the characters my attention may sway, but that fear allayed pretty early on by the authors great descriptive writing which bares all to scene of a family torn apart by the criminal inclinations of a small representation of their larger sum. This is part 2 in the ‘Made in Sweden’ series, the first book being ‘The Father’. Can’t wait for the next one!

For more view the full list

^DevilStateDan

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults – 2018 finalists announced

The finalists for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults have been announced.

“From sharks and dawn raids to earthquakes, kidnap plots, Jean Batten and the familiar chaos that is kids at breakfast time, their range is diverse. But they all share the magical ability to transport, inform and delight, says convenor of judges, Jeannie Skinner. “These books, fiction and non-fiction, help us try on different lives, see the world through another’s eyes, and be inspired by stories of our past, present, and possible futures.”

The judges say the real strength of the shortlist is the range of vividly drawn and memorable characters who encounter challenges, both physical and mental. They were also delighted by the richly authentic voices, which reflect the unique New Zealand landscape, vernacular and humour, with convincingly drawn family and peer dynamics. Powerful settings of imagined futures, whether dystopian, inter-planetary or steampunk, add variety and wild imagination to the vibrant mix. (Read the judges’ full comments).

The awards are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the final award winners will be announced Wednesday 8 August 2018.

A special congratulations to Canterbury finalists Gavin Bishop for Non-Fiction and Jenny Cooper (Amberley) for Illustration.

Finalists

Picture Book Award Finalists

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction Finalists

The authentic voices of young New Zealanders are heard loud and clear in the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction shortlist. Whether in the past or present, drama or comedy, the judges found the characters to be warm and vividly real, as they face challenges and negotiate relationships.

Read Christchurch City Library’s interview with Stacy Gregg about The Thunderbolt Pony and keep an eye out for her following book The Fire Stallion (due out late September 2018).

Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction Finalists

The Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction was another exceptionally strong field this year, with themes of survival against the odds, challenges and mental health issues. Most importantly, the judges say, the authors in this category all nailed the voice of their young adult characters “in these well-written and deftly plotted books”.

Everythingiswrong

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction Finalists

The judges were excited to see such a bountiful number of high calibre nominations for the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award and they say the finalists shine with the authors’ expertise and passion for their subjects. “These non-fiction books take sometimes complex subjects and distil the essence, clearly and honestly, for their young audience to show what makes our world so interesting, wonderful, and various.”

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori Finalists

The entries in the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written entirely in te reo Māori were described as ‘Ahakoa he iti he pounamu’ …they were “precious like greenstone”, and the judges praised both the content and the quality of the language used.

  • Hineahuone, Xoë Hall, translated by Sian Montgomery-Neutze (TeacherTalk)
  • Te Tamaiti me te Aihe Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Little Island Press Ltd)
  • Tu Meke Tūī! Malcolm Clarke, illustrated by Hayley King (AKA Flox), translated by Evelyn Tobin (Mary Egan Publishing)

Russell Clark Award for Illustration Finalists

Best First Book Award

Everythingiswrong

Christchurch City Libraries was pleased to host a session with author Joanna Grochowicz in the 2017 school holidays based on her book about Scott’s Antarctic Odyssey, Into the White.

More information about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults:


An integral part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is the HELL Reading Challenge, now in its fifth year. It has been hugely successful in getting kids reading and enjoying the pleasure of stories (and pizza). Kids can pick up their reading challenge cards at Christchurch City Libraries (open until December 2018).

Library sounds – a mid-year review

I’ve been exploring the CD collection available through Christchurch City Libraries this year and I’ve found some absolute gems!

There’s a mix of styles and eras in this list and quite a representation of New Zealand music – and it just so happens to be New Zealand Music Month.

So sit back and get some sonic stimulation from some quality musicians from around the world of music…

2018 – The Best of Music

List created by DevilStateDan

Music highlights for the year. Some are brand new, some are decades old but new to me, all are great!

Versatile – Van Morrison doing jazz interpretations backed by a very slick big band. It’s really well produced and if you’re new to the American jazz standards then this is a great way in!

Utterance – I love this album! It’s a collaborative effort between three on NZ’s finest musicians; David Long (banjo w/effects), Natalia Mann (harp), and Richard Nunns (taonga puoro). These flavours blend beautifully to create haunting soundscapes that are textural and dynamic – truly beautiful sounds from Aotearoa!

The Jazz Messengers – The first album from the group that went on to be the band that every jazz player wanted to be in. They’ve had some huge names in jazz through their ranks over the years and this is a great way to start their 40+ album recording career!

The Kitchen Table Sessions – Beaut, home-cooked alt-country from NZ’s favourite adopted daughter, Tami Neilson. Great country grooves and a lady with a voice of gold – what’s not to love!?

Preservation – Some more beautiful, lyrical, melodic songwriting from NZ’s Nadia Reid.

Second Nature – This is just how I like the Blues; stripped back, acoustic, you can just imagine it on the porch on a hot summer day… This father and son team recorded this album in single takes with no overdubs whilst they were touring Finland in 1991, and it’s a timeless and solid an blues album as you’ll find.

Charlie Watts Meets the Danish Radio Big Band – Charlie Watts (drummer for the Rolling Stones) gives it his jazz side on this album, featuring the big band of Danish radio. Some great jazz music here particularly the ‘Elvin Suite’ numbers. After that you get the obligatory big band arrangements of some Stones songs, beautifully arranged and executed but nothing terribly exciting musically.

Dog – Stripped back acoustic blues doesn’t get much better than this album of what I like to call “porch music” from Charlie Parr. Solid songwriting and a very real connection with the blues makes this a great addition to the genre.

Don’t Let Them Lock You up – New Zealand music is in good shape these days and I really like the creativity and superb musicianship that is on display on this album. They usually perform as a duo but the recording process has allowed them to expand on their ideas and grooves, implement new harmonies and percussion lines, and get really solid and funky! Great album!

Black Notes From the Deep – A great jazz album from the British multi-instrumentalist jazz legend Courtney Pine. Brilliant small ensemble playing and solid musicianship on display. I really liked the instrumentals – not so much the vocal numbers – but that’s just my preference. It’s good compositions played really nicely without arrogance or naff-ness. Jazz fans should have a listen.

View full list

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, 1840

Waitangi Day is coming up so why not find out more about the Treaty of Waitangi? The Treaty of Waitangi Collection is an amazing resource. It has all the essential content for learning about the history of the Treaty and its relevance today. The collection is indexed by place and iwi so you can explore the history of the Treaty by your iwi or by your area. Bridget Williams Books and Christchurch City Libraries have provided this fact sheet on Treaty of Waitangi in the Canterbury region. This includes facts like:

Tī ovens (umu-tī) that date from the thirteenth century have been found in South Canterbury. These ovens were used to cook the roots and lower stems of young cabbage trees.
Read more about pre- European archaeology in chapter three of Tangata Whenua in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.

By 1800, an estimated 20,000 people lived in the tribal area of Ngāi Tahu. This population spread from Kaikōura on the east coast and Tai Poutini on the west all the way down to Rakiura (Stewart Island) and other southern islands.
Read more about Ngāi Tahu in chapter one of New Myths and Old Politics in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection.

eBook titles in the Treaty of Waitangi Collection include:

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi 1840

This eBook has reproductions of the nine sheets of the Treaty of Waitangi, comprising of the original document first signed at Waitangi on 6 February 1840 and eight copies. It also provides information about the sheets, and a map, and information about where the Treaty was signed. This title also includes some short biographies of many of the signatories, which show the range of people who signed Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

He Whakaputanga/The Declaration of Independence, 1835

He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – known in English as the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand – is a constitutional document of historical and cultural significance. It was signed first by a group of powerful Northern chiefs at British Resident James Busby’s house at Waitangi. Also included in this title are some short biographies of some of the signatories.

The Treaty of Waitangi by Claudia Orange

Claudia Orange has produced several works on the Treaty of Waitangi including this award-winning title published in 1987. Other Treaty titles by Claudia Orange available in the BWB Treaty of Waitangi Collection include The Story of a Treaty; An illustrated History of the Treaty of Waitangi; What Happened at Waitangi?

Stories without End: Essays 1975-2010 by Judith Binney

This is just one of Judith Binney’s books that is available on the Treaty of Waitangi, she is regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading scholars on the subject. This book is a selection of essays that explore sidepaths and previously unexamined histories. They notably delve into the lives of powerful early Māori figures, including the prophets Rua Kenana and Te Kooti, their wives and their descendants, and the leaders of the Urewera.

More about Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Best book covers 2017 – My pick of New Zealand’s finest

It’s one of the pleasures as the year ends to slow down and smell the roses – or, in this case, stop and appreciate the book covers. Join me as I judge New Zealand books by their covers.

Christchurch Art Gallery

Gold medal winner for 2017 is our own Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. It’s not a parochial choice. They’ve produced a standout series of publications to add to their award-winning output.

Aberhart starts here (by senior curator Dr Lara Strongman with Laurence Aberhart) is the companion book to the exhibition (on until 6 February 2018 – don’t miss it).  The striking cover cleverly matches Aberhart’s photo with the title added to the building as if it were graffiti, or a business name (in that attractive and distinctive typeface used in the exhibition). The text and the photos have been given room to breathe on the page. It’s a beautiful book with a kind of stately gravitas.

A more raucous beauty is Say something! Jacqueline Fahey by curator Felicity Milburn with Allie Eagle, Julia Holden, Bronwyn Labrum, Lana Lopesi, Zoe Roland and Julia Waite. Again, both words and images are placed to perfection on the page, with zingy pops of colour. The exhibition is on until 11 March 2018.

Christchurch Art Gallery have also made some rather stunning “Little Books” – (Birds, Sea, Flowers, Black – highlighting taonga from their collection. The covers are gorgeous, and the books have coloured page edges, foil, and ribbons to mark your page. Swoon.

The publication Bulletin always has outstanding covers to match its great content and striking internal visuals.  The colour scheme and Ann Shelton’s art on the cover of the latest issue are a visual symphony. B.189 had The Ramones on the cover!

Credit for this great mahi also goes to:

  • The students from the graphic design department at the Ilam School of Fine Arts who do the design on Bulletin;
  • Lecturer Aaron Beehre who is art director for Bulletin and who also designed the Little Books;
  • Photographer John Collie;
  • Designer Peter Bray who worked on the Aberhart and Fahey books.

Find books published by Christchurch Art Gallery in our collection.

Special mention

Illustrator Giselle Clarkson has had a phenomenal year.  Her art is full of life and fun. She created the much-shared biccies and slices taxonomy in Annual 2. Giselle does brilliant work in The Sapling, school journals – in all sorts of places and on wide range of topics (her natural history comics are fab). Kei runga noa atu – I would love to see a whole book by Giselle!

Here are some of 2017’s best covers:

Illustrators and artists

I particularly like the timeless quality of the first three covers. The historical tourist poster vibe of Maria McMillan’s The Sky Flier is quite striking too.

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Black and white and photographic

Photos are always a popular way of attracting a reader. I love the energy in Victor Rodger’s Black Faggot, showing the play in performance. and see that sense of motion and action in Floating Islander, Oxygen, and The Treaty on the Ground. In contrast see the stillness of Elspeth Sandys’ portrait, and the calm library depicted on the cover of The Expatriates.

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Colour

Magenta, lavender, pinky-purple – New Zealand book covers this year showed a bit of trend towards the pink side. I for one love it.  (Update: Spinoff books mentions book covers in their Second annual Spinoff Review of Books literary awards and picks the cover of Baby by Annaleese Jochems designed by Keely O’Shannessy as best cover).

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Te Reo Māori

Original NZ books in te reo Māori, and also translations of classics. It’s grand to see te reo front and centre.

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Aotearoa’s first bookface cover?

Tom Scott might be the first author to do a sort of #bookface cover. Well, technically, more #illustrationface – either way it’s a great cover.

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Cute as heck

Finally, let’s place together two critters that ought not be proximate. They are both so phenomenally cute …

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Browse more covers of  New Zealand books published in 2017

International “Best Book Covers” lists

Best book covers of previous years

For more on local book covers and design, see the PANZ Book Design Awards.

Love Letter to A Bookshop : New Zealand Bookshop Day – Saturday 28 October 2017

Bookshops I have loved, lost, and looted : a confession.

Write a love letter to your favourite bookshop – Dear Diary. I can’t send this to a Bookshop; I’m cheating on all of them! I have no control over myself. Wherever I go, I have to see the local bookshop. Where did it all start?

My first love was the Scholastic Book Club. Remember Lucky Books? Making my choices carefully from the brochure, I paid for them with my pocket money. I was so excited to see that pile of new books on my desk! I drove my family nuts with this one: Boo!

W. Carthew Bookseller And Stationer, Feilding Public Library, PHOTO_FDG_BUS_sh31.jpg

When I was a kid, Carthew’s Bookshop in Feilding was my door into the imagined world. They had the Beano… Carthew’s is no longer there, but the building remains.

Hopwoods Mitre 10 and Bennett’s bookshop, Broadway, Matt Ryan, 1988, Manawatu Heritage 2008P_Z5184_BUI_0970

Teen angst took me to Bennett’s bookshop in Palmerston North. The city store in Broadway, now Whitcoulls, had an impressive staircase. You could hide away in the quiet of the loft floor, which always had sale tables. Sale tables! Woo!

Bennetts University Bookshop at Massey Tiritea Campus was the place to get my set texts for English. This bookshop always had lots of neat little extras to look at and buy, like the Little Book of Calm. I’ve kept almost all of my Uni books…

Unity Books at the end of Lambton Quay was my Dad’s favourite bookshop. A treasure trove. Dad ordered a lot of books from there. I shared his love of David Attenborough, Jacques Cousteau and studied religion; making a beeline from the Beehive to visit whenever in Welly.

Moving back to the Manawatu for a bit I flirted with Poppies Bookshop in Feilding and had a co-dependent relationship with Bruce McKenzie Booksellers in Palmerston North. Nestled under Palmerston North City Library in George Street, Bruce McKenzie’s stock popular, classic authors, art and wonderful children’s books. Bruce supports local authors too, and hosts events! Glass of wine, anyone?

Since moving to Christchurch I’ve forged a relationship with Scorpio Books and I’m having an online affair with Book Depository.

I love to go to writers’ events. I’m like a moth to a flame. Scorpio are great supporters of literary events such as National Poetry Dayl. Btw they’re hosting the The Great Lit Quiz & Ngaio Marsh Awards on NZ Bookshop Day.

Book Depository sell both new and used books online. And they don’t charge postage! A match made in heaven for a book addict.

Last but not least is the thing I have for second hand books. I like nothing better than a good rummage for a bargain. What if I found someone I could treasure?! Whether its the Cat’s Protection League, the Hospice Shop, the Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul, you’ll find me in the book section looking for Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, or that Mary Poppins I just can’t find for my collection.

Old flames back home are Trash and Treasures, who used to be in Rangitikei Street, and Star Bookshop in Cuba Street, Palmerston North.

Here in Christchurch I’ve discovered a comforting nest of rare jewels at Smiths, The Tannery Bookshop.

One of the books I treasure most is an old cancelled library copy of Witi Ihimaera ‘s Tangi. I can still see the pleasure on Witi’s face when he signed it for me at an author event in Palmy:

“My first book!” he exclaimed.

Dear bookshops, don’t ever change! I love that you take me as I am, and don’t judge me by my cover.

Lots of love,
A constant reader.

PS: Thanks to my love for you I’ve carted eight bookshelves worth of books with me all over New Zealand. My dream is to buy a bus and never pack up those books again.

Write a love letter to your favourite bookshop


Tomorrow Saturday 28 October is NZ Bookshop Day. Find out more:

Ah, the serenity of the West Coast

This Labour Weekend I’m off to the West Coast of our South Island again. I get an itch to escape to there fairly often and this time it felt like it had been too long since last visit. There is something wholly relaxing about leaving your busy city life for the wilds of ‘the Coast’.

Here are some West Coast reads:

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Be safe on our roads this holidays.