Festival Quick Fix: Wednesday

I imagine my colleagues who’ve gone up to the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival are now camping out on the pavement outside the Aotea Centre, waiting to grab ringside seats for tonight’s opening events. I hope they are anyway, and I hope it’s a typically damp Auckland day, if just to make those of us who can’t be there feel better about being left behind in sunny Canterbury!

It’s going to be real hardship for them, five days of non-stop literary action. It’s the librarian equivalent of a petrol-head going to the Formula One, or a catholic meeting the Pope. For those like me who can’t be there, we can at least share in their experience by following the team’s ramblings (or otherwise), between now and Sunday.

Most of the action starts tomorrow, but today’s events are:

  • Sunday magazine columnist and author Steve Braunias talks to Finlay Macdonald about his writing and his recent books How to Watch a Bird and Roosters I Have Known.
  • Books on the Box – a panel discussion about TV book programmes, featuring Hamish Keith, Hermione Lee and Colin Hogg, and chaired by (the woman with that gorgeous accent) Noelle McCarthy.
  • One for the musos, Mike Chunn brings Dave Dobbyn, John Chong-Nee and Victoria Girling-Butcher together to talk about the art of song writing in Songwriters Speak.

We’ll have new posts throughout the day, every day, and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and comments as we relay ours. We’ll also have exclusive interviews with some of the major writers, so call back for a regular fix, or don’t miss a thing by subscribing to our RSS feed. If you haven’t seen it already, our website Edition this week also previews the Festival.

Best Book Covers 07

New book designIn amongst the various book related “Best ofs” for 2007,  here’s a little gem – The Book Design Review’s Best Covers of the year. Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but these are jolly enticing.  Heck, you even get to cast your own vote!

Book covers is another blog dedicated to the appreciation of good book design.

In New Zealand Bookman Beattie’s blog is a great source of information on books and their exteriors (and content). The Spectrum Book Design Awards gives the thumbs up to the best in book design.

If you want to find out more about beautiful book covers, read our earlier post Don’t judge a book by its cover and search the catalogue for books on book design.

Hand-set edition of Hone Tuwhare’s Rain

News from Otago University for poetry lovers and bibliophiles alike:
A limited edition hand-set printing of Hone Tuwhare’s classic poem ‘Rain’ has just been completed as part of the 2007 Printing in Residence Programme at the University of Otago Library. Eleven other poems were re-printed from Tuwhare’s Come Rain Hail (1970) and produced in a large format portfolio production. It was printed by Dr John Holmes, under the University Library’s Otakou Press.

Tuwhare’s well-known ‘Rain’ was illustrated by Olav Nielsen, a Dunedin printmaker-artist. Six other Dunedin artists were involved: Inge Doesburg, Simon Kaan, Mary McFarlane, Kathryn Madill, Jenna Packer, and Marilyn Webb. Each selected a poem and created their own delightful image-masterpieces.

All the copies printed have been sold. Those interested in viewing the production can call into Special Collections at the Otago University Library (1st floor) and request to see it, or otherwise view online images. Next year’s project, which will feature master-printer Alan Loney.

Hone Tuwhare For more information about Hone:

  • Books by Hone Tuwhare at Christchurch City Libraries
  • Information about Hone at Christchurch City Libraries
  • The New Zealand Book Council entry on Hone

If you are looking for a different interpretation of Hone’s poetry, try the sound recording Tuwhare. This was a project commissioned by Toi Maori Aotearoa and directed by Charlotte Yates in which poems by Hone were set to music by recording artists from NZ/Aotearoa.


Miss PettigrewThe way publishing works these days is very similar to the movie industry – no surprise as the big ones are all multimedia – in the way that things are thrown out to the market and if it works that’s fine and if it doesn’t, move on. The result of this is that backlists – once a source of pride to some publishers – have become a thing of the past and there’s not much republishing done except for the more well known classics and cheap versions of the tried and true.

It has been interesting to watch the success of a small British firm called Persephone Books whose object is to publish fiction and some nonfiction by “unjustly neglected” authors. A lot of the material is similar to the Virago Classics series and they have been produced in similarly attractive and striking trade paperback editions with excellent introductions by enthusiasts (rather than ponderous intros by academics!)

Because small presses aren’t that well known – you won’t find their work in airport bookshops nestling up against the likes of Dan Brown and Nora Roberts – they rely on specialist bookshops and of course libraries to support them. Our library has a number of these titles and readers who don’t want to bother with the big brassy bestsellers nor with the instant depression of some literary fiction may like to try some of these. It is a chance to look at titles by writers from the past such as Mollie Panter-Downes, Dorothy Whipple, Marghanita Laski and Denis Mackail.

One of their most successful titles has been a likeable curiosity called Miss Pettigrew lives for a day by Winifred Watson. This droll tale about a put-upon governess who finds unexpected happiness in her encounters with a racy upper crust set has just been filmed with American actress Frances McDormand in the lead and it has real potential to be a sleeper hit.