Harry Giles: Doer of Things (WORD Christchurch event, Tues 13 March 7.30pm)

I have to confess that I had never heard of Harry Giles before this assignment, but I was intrigued and curious.

Forward Prizes 2016

Harry Giles: Doer of things – WORD Christchurch event

Tuesday 13 March, Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street.
Buy tickets $20 waged, $15 unwaged (service fees apply)
Presented by LitCrawl Wellington, Harry Giles appears with the support of the British Council in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, UK as part of the International Literature Showcase.

According to the bio on Harry Giles’ website:

Harry Josephine Giles is from Orkney, Scotland, and is a writer and performer. They have lived on four islands, each larger than the last. They trained in Theatre Directing (MA with Merit, East 15 Acting School, 2010) and Sustainable Development (MA 1st Class, University of St Andrews, 2009) and their work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up.

You can go to Harry’s fulsome website if you wish to delve more deeply into their work but, as a precursor to the event, I will give you an overview.

I like Harry’s “mission statement” (my quotation marks): “My work is about what it feels like to live under capitalism, and how to survive and resist in a violent world.” I think many of us realise that capitalism is a flawed, if not failing, system for human beings. If Kylie Jenner can wipe $US1.3 billion off the share market value of the social media app, Snapchat, just by tweeting that she doesn’t use it any more, then clearly capitalism is ridiculous. If CEOs of major global corporations can earn many hundreds of times more than their workers, then clearly capitalism is amoral. And evidence of the violent tendencies of the human animal are widespread.

Harry is a very busy artist. They are all over many different media for conveying their art; poetry, video, installation and the internet being some of the ways Harry explores ideas and makes art.

Our catalogue doesn’t contain any of Harry’s work at present, but they have written this interesting piece about stone-hearted people called The Stoneheart Problem and you can watch and listen to Harry Giles read from their debut poetry collection,  Tonguit  Filmed at the Scottish Poetry Library, Harry reads Poem in which nouns, verbs and adjectives have been replaced by entries from the Wikipedia page List of Fantasy Worlds. 

So I’m looking forward to hearing and seeing how Harry Giles critiques life in the modern world and reporting back to you, gentle reader.

读《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》,忆乡愁诗人余光中 “Nostalgia poet” Yu Guangzhong

每逢佳节倍思亲。在春节探亲访友之际,海外的华人都以各种方式表达对故土和亲人的思恋。朗诵余光中的《乡愁》往往成为人们表达这一情感的一种方式。台湾著名诗人、文学评论家、教育家、翻译家余光中先生以脍炙人口的《乡愁》赢得了“乡愁诗人”的称号。 然而,他对华人社会的贡献远远超出了这一称号冠以他的殊荣。在他的一生中, 余光中先生发表了多部诗集散文翻译作品。每首诗文都得益于他在一定时代背景下真实的情感和体悟。所以,他的作品能牵动亿万华人的心。傅孟丽的《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》是走进这位大师的世界,理解他的诗文的最好导读。

《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》的中文简写本完成于2007年。余光中先生于2017年病逝。因此,这本书记录了余光中先生一生的重大事件,算得上是一本较完整的传记。在书中,作者将余光中先生的一生分成五个阶段,包括大陆时期、台北时期、赴美时期、香港时期和高雄时期。以此为主线,作者也侧写了余光中先生的家庭、亲情、爱情、友情、师生情和个人性格,以达到“横看成岭侧成峰”的效果。

尽管该书各章节之间的连贯性似乎不太明显,作者严谨的写作态度值得称颂。每一事件的资料都来源于详细访谈,经过多方核实。作者很巧妙地避免了写传记时易走的两个误区。既没有将该传记写成“供词”以暴露不必要暴露的隐私;也没有将其写成“颂词”而一味歌功颂德。书中呈现的是一位有七情六欲、经历丰富的文化人—有过儿时对战争的恐惧、青壮年时的壮志凌云、客居他乡时被排挤和最终的功成名就。

这本书的另一个读点就是它将余光中先生的一生不同时期的作品和他的生活境遇有机地结合起来以解读这些作品。读过该书,您会对下面一系列问题有更清晰的答案:为什么余光中先生在散文《从母亲到外遇》中说:“大陆是母亲,台湾是妻子,香港是情人,欧洲是外遇。”?《沙浮投海》《舟子的悲歌》表达了大师怎样的心境?为什么诗集《莲的联想》在台湾诗史的演进中很珍贵?《白玉苦瓜》的音乐性从何而来?余光中先生什么时候写了《三生石》

如果您喜欢读余光中先生的作品,《茱萸的孩子:余光中传》是一本必读的书。建议您首先读这本书,然后通过以上链接欣赏他的作品。这样,您可能对大师的作品会有更深的领悟。同时,也欢迎您加入我们的读书会微信群(微信号:hongwangccl),参加我们的余光中作品在线讨论。

Zhu yu de hai zi

A novella idea…

Well the new year is underway and it’s another year of excellent reading ahead!

But if you’re struggling to get back into the rhythm of reading, or if the idea of a thick tome after weeks of recreation has you daunted, then I’ve got an idea for you; why not try a novella or two!?

A novella is a mid-length story that fits somewhere between a short story and a full blown novel. Many great authors have produced great works through this medium (some of them feature in this list!) and it’s a format worth celebrating, so here’s a list of stories in…

The Mid-Length Form

List created by DevilStateDan

Not quite a novel but longer than a short story; here’s a list of great reads in the shorter form of a novella and ranging from all over the world, across many genres and eras. There’s some big names (authors) in this list and a great way to read some classics without committing to a hefty tome! From Voltaire and Kafka, to Jack London and John Gardner – there’s something here for all tastes and all easily knocked over in one or two sessions.

Cover of The daylight gateThe Daylight Gate – A dark and violent story of witchcraft, witch-hunting, and human frailty. A stunning read by a great writer! It’s 165 pages will transport you back to the brutal times in 1600’s Lancashire

The Forensic Records Society – A group of men decide to create a society for the forensic appreciation of 7″ vinyl records, each taking turns to share their chosen song in silence. That is until a newcomer has different ideas as to how the society should work – are the originals open to change!?! Very humourous and insightful book by one of my new favourite authors. 182 pages.

Cover of McGlueMcGlue – A sailor with the mother of all hangovers tries to reassemble the happenings of the previous night. He’s now locked up and on a murder charge so things must’ve gotten out of hand. Amazingly dark and vivid descriptive writing from a Man Booker Prize shortlisted author. Just over 100 pages for this character to grasp some metaphoric life-raft of decency.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer – A dreamlike discussion between an elderly man and his grandson outlines the confusing and heartrending circumstances of dementia. 76 pages of introspection and warmth.

Cover of The old man and the seaThe Old Man and the Sea – The classic and one of my all time favourite books. If you haven’t read this yet then do so now, it’s beautifully written and explores ideas of humanity, life, death, and more – all in under 130 pages!

Hunger – Published in the 1890s, this is about the abject poverty and desperation in he life of a young writer struggling to stay alive in the freezing streets of Oslo. Absolutely stunning writing and descriptive writing and a hidden classic that should be held in much higher regard than it is! This one’s a bit bigger at 232 pages, but well worth the extra time.

Cover of The subterraneansThe Subterraneans – A group of young wasters in NYC drift about doing not much else except try to find themselves and discover who they are. He’s a good writer and this is one of his best imho. Only 110 pages but crammed with quality.

Fifteen Dogs – The Greek Gods are a troublesome lot and two of their order have a bet about the nature of “intelligence”, so they bestow self-realisation upon fifteen dogs due to be destroyed. What happens after is shocking, funny, violent, heart-wrenching, and amazing. Great book at 170 or so pages.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward – Classic horror right here with a young man drawn to the dark arts of witchcraft in Rhode Island. His dabbles with Hell become increasingly dangerous and with he himself becoming more deranged by the day. What’s going on behind his closed door at night and what are those strange lights…?!?! 127 pages will leave you freaked by the evil that men do!

Cover of GrendelGrendel – The Beowulf Tale but told from the perpective of the monster… but what if you had a deeper understanding of Grendel, about his feelings, his motivations – is he still so monstrous or are the monsters elsewhere!?!? This is an outstanding book beautifully written. So much in it for only 123 pages!

The Peculiar Life of A Lonely Postman – A curious tale of a postman who develops a love of haiku, and starts a poetic dialogue with a stranger that gets deeper and deeper. Maybe a case of mail fraud and stalking but delivered in such a light hearted and charming approach and only 119 pages.

Cover of Call of the wildThe Call of the Wild – A classic novella with the hardy Buck as our hero. A timeless and ageless adventure and survival story. It’s about love, loss, power and control, and the will to endure hardship through sheer inner strength. An amazing 79 page story for all ages.

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – A harrowing yet beautiful look at 24hrs of life in a Stalinist Russian prison and labour camp. Our central character strives hard to maintain dignity in the face of inhumanity. Seemingly ordinary objects take on great significance in the quest for one’s own survival. A bleak and hard hitting read and a cult classic. 142 pages of grim determination.

Cover of Animal farmAnimal Farm – Another book that everyone should read. It’s very famous story of farm animals in revolt against their perceived oppressors is nowadays part of our very culture. If you’ve not read these 104 pages then do so now!

Metamorphosis and Other Stories – A man awakes to find himself transformed…. into a bug, and his (and his family’s) attempt to adjust to his new form. It’s about identity, social isolation, alienation, and loads of other heavy allegory that you don’t need to be aware of when getting into the 64 pages of weirdness and exposure!

Cover of The death of Ivan Ilyich & confessionThe Death of Ivan Ilyich – Explore the stages of grief with Ivan Ilych, who has just been diagnosed with an incurable illness that will soon see the end of him. He and his family travel the rocky roads of denial, anger, and finally acceptance over the course of the 114 pages. A great work by a great writer.

The Time Machine – H.G. Wells is a giant in the world of fantastical sci-fi, and The Time Machine is arguably his greatest work. An eccentric inventor loses his beloved and seeks to travel through time to save her, but what he finds throughout the depth and breadth of human history is shocking, disturbing and thoroughtly inhuman. A brilliant piece of work in 118 pages.

Cover of the Third man & The fallen idolThe Third Man – Rollo is a writer. He writes cheap paperbacks. When his friend, Mr Lime, invites him to Vienna he jumps at the chance for an interesting journey. But Mr Lime has been killed before Rollo arrives and Rollo finds himself embroiled in a post-war Vienna noir thriller. A good suspenseful novella of 195 pages.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Other Stories – Another classic horror story that is so familiar to us nowadays, but if you’ve never read the book then you only know half the story! With lines like; ““I slept after the prostration of the day, with a stringent and profound slumber which not even the nightmares that wrung me could avail to break.” – how could you not love every word in its 110 pages…!?

Cover of The outsiderThe Outsider – A story in two parts; the first follows a young man on the fringes of identity with no aims or plans, when an incident occurs. The second part is the resulting consequences of that incident. French author Albert Camus is the king of the novella and this one is a beaut place to start if you’re new to his writing. 126 pages of thought provoking text.

Candide, Or, The Optimist – Candide is a well balanced young man who has been raised to see the best in the world, until he becomes embroiled with a local girl and is ousted from his wealthy family home. What happens next is a road trip like no other with adventurous deeds and arduous ordeals. A brilliant story in 135 pages.

Cover of Slaughterhouse 5Slaughterhouse-five – Butchery in the service of authority is the theme of this classic novella. It’s post-war absurdity, humour, and tragedy, and quite brutal – a great read in 185 pages!

View Full List

You’ll get through those in no time! So you might also want to check out Joyce’s list of tiny books.

Not such a strange meeting – Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon

Cover100 years ago last week at Craiglockhart Hospital for Neurasthenic Officers in Edinburgh, Wilfred Owen introduced himself to Siegfried Sassoon and one of the great literary friendships was born. Wilfred was recovering from shellshock, deeply traumatised by his time on the Western Front in 1917. Siegfried, grieving and angry at the deaths of his friends and men in his unit, had protested against the continued conduct of the First World War. After intervention from Robert Graves, he was sent to Craiglockhart rather than face a court martial. As the aspiring poet Wilfred was well aware, Siegfried was already a moderately famous poet. In the few weeks together they had in Scotland, Siegfried encouraged and mentored Wilfred.

Wilfred was killed on 4 November 1918, exactly a year after he left Craiglockhart and a week before the Armistice, however in the time between meeting Siegfried and his death he produced some of the most famous war poems, including Anthem for Doomed Youth and Strange Meeting. Their shared influence can still be felt today – their works are still taught in school, and Siegfried’s quote “I died in hell; they called it Passchendaele” has been widely quoted in the ongoing commemorations of the Third Battle of Ypres.

CoverWe know so much about their friendship as they both wrote about it – Wilfred in excited letters to his mother and Siegfried a couple of decades later in his volume of autobiography Siegfried’s Journey. This documentation has provided excellent source material for modern authors looking to portray the two poets. They are the subject of a two-hander play Not About Heroes which covers Craiglockhart in Act One and their different paths in Act Two. Intimate and moving, this is a powerful play (but having directed it a few years ago I am quite biased).

CoverPerhaps the most well-known depiction of their friendship is in Pat Barker‘s award winning Regeneration Trilogy. However, in Barker’s interpretation of Siegfried’s time at Craiglockhart, his friendship with Wilfred is overshadowed by his connection with his doctor, W. H. R. Rivers. There’s a lot going on in the trilogy – the cultural construct of masculinity cracking under pressure, mental health, sex, pacifism – and Siegfried and Wilfred are only one strand to this. Rivers is perhaps the main character and the marvelous fictional creation that is Billy Prior dominates the last two books.

I’ve mentioned before how Billy is possibly my favourite literary character. He’s the working class kid who becomes an officer; he’s bisexual; he’s somewhere on the continuum of sanity and insanity; he’s a split personality. He’s so many things that in some ways he shouldn’t work but – to me at least – he does. Billy and Rivers tie the trilogy together.

And so a chance meeting 100 years ago is still being interpreted and played out today; the voices of those caught up in conflict still resonating.

Do you have a favourite war poem?

2017 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day

When I first heard of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day, I immediately thought of someone heading off in the dead of night with a new poem in one hand and a pot of paste in the other. The poem would then be pasted onto a wall or lamp post for us to read the next day. I was wrong. Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day is a day for everyone from novice and curious to professional poet to have the opportunity to share poetry and revel in its magic. To get involved and explore and share poetry. Discover New Zealand poets, and go on a magical, mystical journey.

National Poetry day is held on the last Friday in August each year. There will be poetry events  in the lead up to Poetry Day, featuring local poets and The School for Young Writers. there will be something for everyone.

This year Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day will be on Friday, August 25th. The organizers are promising us a one-day national poetry-event extravaganza.

I enjoy poetry. I love the way the words swirl in my imagination and form pictures in my mind. I like having poetry read to me. On the 25th of August, I’ll be borrowing a book of my favourite poems and maybe someone will read to me while I close my eyes and relax.

Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day – Christchurch competitions and events

Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day is on Friday 25 August.
You can see all national and international events and competitions on the Poetry Day website. Here’s what’s happening in Ōtautahi. See all the information in the full listing of local events.

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker
Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker, Victoria Street,  Flickr 2013-07-30

Christchurch City Libraries is running two events:

Performance Poetry with Greg O’Connell
Friday 25 August 10am to 10.30am, Shirley Library, 36 Marshland Road
Come along, be part of the fun…and experience poetry like never before!
Shirley Library is hosting a special poetry performance by children’s poet Greg O’Connell in celebration of Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day
Perfect for kids aged 3 to 6 years. Find out more.

Poetry Workshop with Greg O’Connell
Friday 25 August 4pm to 5pm, New Brighton Library, 213 Marine Parade
Are you a young person who loves to write poetry? If you answered yes! enrol in our free poetry writing workshop today! Ages: 6 – 9 and 10 – 13 years. Greg O’Connell is a poet, performer and literacy educator.
Limited spaces, bookings essential. To book phone 941-7923. Find out more.

More events and competitions

The Great Wall of Poetry
UBS Canterbury is celebrating the readers and writers of poetry by building a Great Wall of Poetry. You’ve got until 20 August to enter.
Find out more on the Facebook event.

Take Two: Poetica: The Christchurch Urban Poetry Project

Young Poets Open Mic – ages 6 to 12
Young Poets Open Mic – ages 13 to 25
Thursday 24 August 4.3o to 7.30pm
XCHC Café and Exhibition Space, 376 Wilsons Road.
Find out more on the Facebook event.

Sight and Sound at UBS
Friday 25 August, 12:00-1:00pm
University Bookshop, University Drive, Ilam
Come and see the University Bookshop’s poetry wall and hear  James Norcliffe and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman. The winner of The Great Wall of Poetry competition will be announced and guests will be invited to read the work submitted by the members of the public. Find out more on the Facebook event.

Poetry Live, Christchurch!
Friday 25 August, 5.30pm-7.30pm
Exchange Café (XCHC), 376 Wilsons Road, Waltham
Be part of Poetry Live, Christchurch! at XCHC on Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day. Covert poets, come out of the closet in a friendly place. Join established poets, reading at the Open Mic. Free; koha appreciated. All ages welcome. Find out more on the Facebook event.

Politics and Poetry: Sailing in a New Direction
(Title from the opening of Curnow’s ‘Landfall in Unknown Seas’)
Friday 25 August, 7:30 to 10 p.m.
Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street
Join us in this exploration of politics within poetry – and the poetry within the politics? Ben Brown, Danielle O’Halloran, Ray Shipley, Doc Drumheller, Andy Coyle and 20/20 Collection poet James Norcliffe will be reading work that engages with the big issues. Free entry, all welcome. Find out more on the Facebook event.

Free Public Workshop – Warm-down event
10.30-12.30, Saturday, 26 August 2017
The Writers’ Block, Hagley College, Hagley Avenue
Free public Saturday workshop with renowned Lyttelton poet, Ben Brown. All welcome. Please register by Monday 21 August.
For further information and to register please contact Director, Morrin Rout, Hagley Writers’ Institute |Phone: 03 3299789 |Mob: 0210464189 |Email: writers@hagley.school.nz

See also:

Poetry Phone – Warm-up/NPD
In this great warm up for National Poetry Day you can txt or call Poetry Phone live poetry readings 022 300 8164 or 021 474 555. Poetry lines are open from Wednesday 23rd to Friday 25th August, round the clock. You can also make poetry requests for friends & lovers, and we will give them a call. Send requests to drusdrus@gmail.com or 022 300 8164, be sure to include a bit of info about the recipient so we get the right poem for them.
Entry Details: R18, usual txt and call charges apply.
Date/Times: 23-25 August, phones open round the clock.

Poetry in a Box – Many Places at Once
Christchurch – Lyttelton Coffee Co/ Henry Traders / Lyttelton Market.
Poet David Merritt will be touring 25-30 poems in a box around a cafe, library or market or seat bench and invite members of the public to read them. Free and open to all ages.
Date/Time: Varies slightly from one venue to another but mostly 8am – 3pm, Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August
Find out more in the Facebook event.

Given Words
NZ poets are invited to participate in the Given Words poetry competition.
Follow GivenWords on Twitter
Find out more in the Facebook event.


National Online Poetry Competition
Tararua District Library is celebrating Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day with our Online Poetry Competition for the whole country. Have your poem published online and be in to win a prize and the glory. Competition open 10th July to 20th August 2017. Winner announced 25 August. Up to 2 poems per entrant will be published on the Tararua District Library Blog. Find out more.

Feel A Little Poetic?
Join poet Jenny Palmer and illustrator Evie Kemp, creators of the bestselling Feel A Little book, to make your very own blackout poem! Children of any age can print, create and share a Shy or Happy feelings poem at www.feelalittle.com. Free event open to children of all ages. To enter, find printable forms at www.feelalittle.com and submit completed with contact details via email poem@alittleink.co.nz or social media www.facebook.com/feelalittle and @feelalittlenz by Poetry Day Eve 24 August 5pm

VOLUME Poetry Spam (Junk Poetry Competition)
Choose a piece of spam or junk mail, an advertisement or other unsolicited words (either printed or received by e-mail). Write a poem using only the vocabulary of the piece of junk you have chosen.
Entry details: Free to enter. Open now to all New Zealand residents.
Submission Dates: Entries must be received by 18 August. Send to books@volume.nz or to VOLUME, PO Box 364, Nelson 7040. The winner will be announced on National Poetry Day (25 August) and in our newsletter
Download instructions at http://tinyurl.com/poetryspam

Poetry on Colombo Street
Poetry on Colombo Street. Flickr CCL-2013 -02-22-IMG_4085

Poetica’s Inaugural Project: The Instant Poetry and Infinity Wall. The project culminated with one poem be painted “permanently” on the wall; after a public vote via our Facebook page, Kirsty Dunn’s “Beauty in the Broken” was chosen to represent the project.

Quick Questions with Glenn Colquhoun – WORD Christchurch

Glenn Colquhoun. Image supplied.

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to Shifting Points of View, WORD Christchurch’s suite of events at September’s Christchurch Arts Festival.
Today, it’s New Zealand doctor, poet, and writer Glenn Colquhoun.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I think just walking around the city again, taking it in. I haven’t been there for 3 years or so so it will be nice to scratch its back again.

What do you think about libraries?

I love them. I feel connected to the world when I’m in a library. And to a specific locality  at the same time. And I feel like I’m around people who love stories and books. Libraries are full of kindred spirits.

What would be your “desert island book”?

I’ve just bought Les Murray’s ‘Bunyah.’ So it would be a perfect chance to glory in it.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

 I am made of 37 trillion cells that have no idea who I am.

Glenn Colquhoun appears in:

Glenn Colquhoun’s latest book is Late Love: Sometimes doctors need saving as much as their patients.
Read his NZ Book Council profile for more information.

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More

Happy Birthday James K. Baxter!

Hokitika Bill, Hokitika Bill. I remember chanting this poem aloud at Primary School.

Poet James K. Baxter was born in Dunedin on 29 June 1926. His parents were thinkers – his father Archibald was a conscientious objector and Millicent, his mother had been to College in Sydney.

The dichotomy of social order was represented by his family – his maternal grandfather was Māori, his paternal grandfather was Scots. This fed his mind with the differences and similarities between Clans and Tribes.

Baxter began writing poetry from age seven. His work is said to have become technically accomplished by the time he was a teenager.

Beyond the Palisade was published in 1944 – Baxter’s first year of University at Otago, to great acclaim. Influenced by Dylan Thomas, as was Janet Frame at the time, Baxter was part of the Wellington Group of writers. Fellows included W.H. Oliver and Alistair Te Ariki Campbell.

Cover of O Jerusalem: James K. Baxter : An Intimate MemoirIn 1968 Baxter was told in a dream to go to Jerusalem (Hiruharama), a settlement on the Whanganui River. He worked with the poor, and spoke out against a social order that sanctions poverty.

Baxter’s canon of works is astronomical, and well worth a read. We also have his novel – Horse.

Check out our James K. Baxter display in the reference room at Central Library Manchester.

Further reading

For Later: Stephen Burt, visiting poet

Cover for BelmontPermissible and not mad to add two poetry books by Stephen Burt, The Poem is You and Belmont, to the For Later Shelf this week because I’m giddying up to see them at a WORD event at Scorpio Books on Thursday 26th January at 6pm.

Good poet (at least I think so after attending a reading last year – perhaps I’ll know how to tell for sure after this event), Harvard Professor of Poetry and an engaging speaker, Burt will be in conversation with Fergus Barrowman from Victoria University Press.

I love poetry events – people are passionate about it so the questions tend to be on the intense side, and even better can spin out into wildly inappropriate statements of opinion. Somehow opinions on poetry are so much more interesting than opinions on non-fiction, which mostly centre on how much more the ‘questioner’ knows than the author.

“A lively discussion” is promised, but I’m hoping for a bit more than that.

What do young love and literary magazines have in common?

Why would one read a literary magazine in the time when novels are still the hottest form on the scene? Because reading a literary magazine is like being young and ready to fall in love every day fresh. You can pick up the read you fancy, and if you realize you made a wrong judgement, you can very easily let it go, because – guess what? There is another one waiting for you when you turn the page. No hard feelings, no strings attached!

Takahē is a New Zealand literary magazine published in Christchurch and has been on the scene since 1989. Its core repertoire consists of short stories, poetry and art by New Zealand writers and artists, and often extends to essays, interviews and book reviews. The magazine is a good starting point for emerging literary talents and offers a place for their first public appearance along with established writers.

Takahē is published twice a year in a print form (in April and December) and as an online issue in August.

takahe
Takahē, April’s issue 2016 – the literary bounty

One of the prevailing themes of April 2016’s issue is motherhood, or the biological and relational obstacles preventing motherhood. Lucy-Jane Walsh (These Things Happen) brings a fresh insight into a life of a young woman who cannot have a child but forms an unusual friendship with someone else’s (at the same time it cleverly captures the nuances of the craziness and obsessiveness of modern parenthood). Suvi Mahonen in Little White Crescent dives into details of medical checks and scans of a pregnant future mother, while much more darker side of deficient pregnancy comes to life in Meagan France’s Grace.

The other topic that floats up to the surface is – of course – love, or various forms of love and its cousins (David Hill’s On Special, Melanie Dixon’s The Cottage, Sarah Penwarden’s Mirror Ball, Rupa Maitra’s Eve).

The second topic that recurs is writing (The Celtic Gift by Juliana Feaver and Kate Mahoney’s Flight from New York).

As far as the dating goes, I would definitely revisit Nathan Bennett’s Washed Up (only Birdling’s Flat can inspire such weird yet beautiful story about the relationship you don’t come across very often), Melanie Dixon’s The Cottage (with a witty perspective on a rather sad ending of a romantic weekend), Michael Botur’s This is God’s House (complex and unusual relationship narrated in dynamic slang and persvasive style) and Bev Wood’s Ode to Gallipoli (lyrical meditation on peace with an elusive narrator).

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Takahe offers a good balance of poetry, short stories, essays and book reviews.

What can offer a better shelter to love than poetry? In this issue it comes hand in hand with its ancient partner – death. Under the mindful study of surrounding the pain of passing reveals itself (The Hospice Room by Robert McLean, Rachel Smith’s Light and Shade) and so does singularity of existence through proximity of death (Sarah Penwarden’s poems). How presence and absence are both immanent to love is evoked by Julie Barry in You are now not. Iain Britton’s verses from Calling go further and transcend into cyclical time: binding with ancestors in order to stand, singing in order to weave people together, emerge past and present.

Love can be destructive as well. Venus fails to pursue her artistic calling because she makes the same mistake again – i.e. falls in love (Jenny Powell’s Marlene Dietrich in Gore for the Gold Guitar Awards). The answer to her problem is hiding in sea snails – as Kirstie McKinnon points out they will teach us about letting go.

More existential orientated poems will explain why it is always good to keep your passport on you – or begin at the end (Frieda Paz in Road, map, direction, begin), otherwise you might end up stuck on the bridge  – like a subject in Julie Barry’s Preposition of place. Liang Yujing offers a new metaphor for life – heavy school bags on young pupils and big black mouth of a primary school devouring them. Can we escape? No, as Mary Cresswell proves in her poems, adequately pairing themes of artistic and existential crisis (or blocks) with old troubadour’s poetry forms. But as Julie Barry points out in her Grapefruit, the weight of humanity is too much for one and only branch we live on anyway. And this is not all, I am leaving other joyful jewels for yourself to discover!

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One of Lisa Walker’s jewellery pieces. She is displaying her work at the Christchurch Art Gallery until April 2017.

 

Takahē regularly offers essays on art and latest book reviews. April’s issue will be of a special interest to Christchurch readers, as it brings to focus Lisa Walker’s revolutionary jewellery (written by curator Felicity Milburn), which can also be seen as an exhibition in Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna o Waiwhetu until the 2nd April 2017.

Being a wonderful relic means I still thrive every Saturday morning when I browse through the good old printed paper while sipping the first morning coffee. These days, I am paring this ritual with an early evening one which includes wine and Takahē. Both combinations are perfect and correspond well to each other. I urge you to try them both.

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