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Poetry and plays – Recent Literature picks

Poetry and plays are the focus of this month’s picks, including the much anticipated Poetry 17, the New Zealand poetry yearbook. A newly-published notebook of a road trip undertaken in the American South by Joan Didion and a novel study of the powerful attraction of Sylvia Plath complement the list.

Syndetics book coverA girl walks into a book : what the Brontës taught me about life, love, and women’s work / Miranda K. Pennington.
“How many times have you heard readers argue about which is better, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? The works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne continue to provoke passionate fandom over a century after their deaths. Brontë enthusiasts, as well as those of us who never made it further than those oft-cited classics, will devour Miranda Pennington’s delightful literary memoir.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA to Z great modern writers / Andy Tuohy ; with text by Caroline Taggart.
“Artist and graphic designer Andy Tuohy turns his hand to the world of modern literature in this new instalment of the A-Z series. Rendered in his distinctive style, this new book features portraits of 52 key modern writers significant for their contribution to literature, with a whole host of names from across the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover100 greatest American plays / Thomas S. Hischak.
“In 100 Greatest American Plays, Thomas S. Hischak provides an engaging discussion of the best stage productions to come out of the United States. Each play is discussed in the context of its original presentation as well as its legacy. Arranged alphabetically, the entries for these plays include: plot details, production history, biography of the playwright, literary aspects of the drama, critical reaction to the play and major awards.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPoetry New Zealand yearbook. 2017 / edited by Jack Ross.
“Continually in print since 1951, when it was established by leading poet Louis Johnson, this annual collection of new poetry, reviews and essays is the ideal way to catch up with the latest poetry from established and emerging New Zealand poets. Issue #51 features 128 new poems by writers including featured poet Elizabeth Morton, Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouth and West : from a notebook / Joan Didion ; foreword by Nathaniel Rich.
“From the best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking: two extended excerpts from her never-before-seen notebooks–writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writer. Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles–and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took in June 1970.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHamlet : Globe to globe : two years, 190,000 miles, 197 countries, one play / Dominic Dromgoole.
“Two years, 190,000 miles, 197 countries, one play. For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the Globe Theatre in London undertook an unparalleled journey to share Hamlet with the entire world. The tour was the brainchild of Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe, and in Hamlet Globe to Globe , he takes readers along with him on this wildly ambitious expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalstaff : give me life / Harold Bloom.
“From Harold Bloom, one of the greatest Shakespeare scholars of our time comes “a timely reminder of the power and possibility of words [and] the last love letter to the shaping spirit of Bloom’s imagination” (front page, The New York Times Book Review ) and an intimate, wise, deeply compelling portrait of Falstaff–Shakespeare’s greatest enduring and complex comedic characters.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe haunted reader and Sylvia Plath / Gail Crowther.
The Haunted Reader & Sylvia Plath takes an unusual approach to Sylvia Plath studies focusing on the readers of Sylvia Plath rather than the historical figure herself. Working from the premise that Plath is a highly visible cultural figure, this book explores why her readers become so attached to her. Why does she have such a large and devoted following? What is it about her that attracts people, and once they are drawn in, how does this fandom manifest itself?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScorn : the wittiest and wickedest insults in human history / Matthew Parris.
“‘He’s 100% political herpes. Back in six months whatever you do. Or three days, like last time.’ Camilla Long on Nigel Farage. ‘You’re as ugly as a salad.’ Bulgarian insult. ‘I’m going to beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.’ Muhammed Ali. There’s no pleasure like a perfectly-turned put-down (when it’s directed at somebody else, of course) but Matthew Parris’s Scorn is sharply different from the standard collections.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMolly Keane : a life / Sally Phipps.
“Molly Keane (1904 – 96) was an Irish novelist and playwright (born in County Kildare) most famous for Good Behaviour which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Hailed as the Irish Nancy Mitford in her day; as well as writing books she was the leading playwright of the ’30s, her work directed by John Gielgud. Between 1928 and 1956, she wrote eleven novels, and some of her earlier plays, under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell.” (Syndetics summary)

Our Katherine was a poet too – Recent Literature picks

Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s best known writer, but it’s for her short stories we remember her. It now emerges that she was a significant poet too. Claire Davison has arranged the poems chronologically in a beautiful little book so that we can chart her development, her experimentation with different forms and see the themes which preoccupied her throughout her writing life.
At the other end of the spectrum are two amusing little books, one of limericks written by Michael Palin and the other an imaginary look at what celebrities might carry in their handbags.

Syndetics book coverThe collected poems of Katherine Mansfield / edited by Gerri Kimber & Claire Davison.
“This edition is made up of 217 poems, ordered chronologically, so that the reader can follow Mansfield’s development as a poet and her experiments with different forms, as well as tracing the themes – love and death, the natural world and the seasons, childhood and friendship, music and song – that preoccupied her throughout her writing life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA sackful of limericks / Michael Palin ; illustrated by Tony Ross.
“If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the young fellow from Malta who bought his grandfather an altar … If you’re concerned about the camper called Jack who found a huge snake in his pack … And if you suspect that an eccentric landowner called Grey spent Christmas a very strange way but aren’t sure precisely what that entailed … Then a dip into Michael Palin’s Sackful of Limericks will provide all the answers – and a lot of fun besides.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWords are my matter : writings about life and books, 2000-2016 with a journal of a writer’s week / Ursula K. Le Guin.
Words Are My Matter collects talks, essays, introductions to beloved books, and book reviews by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of our foremost public literary intellectuals. Words Are My Matter is essential reading. It is a manual for investigating the depth and breadth of contemporary fiction — and, through the lens of deep considerations of contemporary writing, a way of exploring the world we are all living in.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne thousand things worth knowing / Paul Muldoon.
“Paul Muldoon’s new book, his twelfth collection of poems, is wide-ranging in its subject matter yet is everywhere concerned with watchfulness. Heedful, hard won, head-turning, heartfelt, these poems attempt to bring scrutiny to bear on everything, including scrutiny itself. One Thousand Things Worth Knowing confirms Nick Laird’s assessment, in the New York Review of Books, that Paul Muldoon is ‘the most formally ambitious and technically innovative of modern poets, [who] writes poems like no one else.'” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who invented fiction : how Cervantes ushered in the modern world / William Egginton.
“In the early seventeenth century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain’s wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from reading too many books of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That book, Don Quixote , went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCarry this book / Abbi Jacobson.
“With bright, quirky, and colourful line drawings, Jacobson brings to life actual and imagined items found in the pockets and purses, bags and glove compartments of real and fantastical people-whether it’s the contents of Oprah’s favorite purse, Amelia Earhart’s pencil case, or Bernie Madoff’s suitcase. Carry This Book provides a humorous and insightful look into how the things we carry around every day can make up who we are.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLittle grey cells : the quotable Poirot / Agatha Christie ; edited by David Brawn.
“A charming, beautifully designed collection of bite-sized wisdom from Agatha Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot–delightful, witty, and perceptive quotations and bon mots to stimulate every fan’s little grey cells.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be idle : a loafer’s manifesto / Tom Hodgkinson.
“From the founding editor of The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing, comes not simply a book, but an antidote to our work-obsessed culture. In How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson presents his learned yet whimsical argument for a new universal standard of living: being happy doing nothing. He covers a whole spectrum of issues affecting the modern idler–sleep, work, pleasure, relationships–while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA woman looking at men looking at women : essays on art, sex, and the mind / Siri Hustvedt.
“As well as being a prize-winning, bestselling novelist, Siri Hustvedt is widely regarded as a leading thinker in the fields of neurology, feminism, art criticism and philosophy. She believes passionately that art and science are too often kept separate and that conversations across disciplines are vital to increasing our knowledge of the human mind and body, how they connect and how we think, feel and see.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA poet’s Dublin / Eavan Boland ; edited by Paula Meehan and Jody Allen Randolph ; with photographs by Eavan Boland.
“Written over years, the transcendent and moving poems in A Poet’s Dublin seek out shadows and impressions of a powerful, historic city, studying how it forms and alters language, memory, and selfhood.” (Syndetics summary)

Book Launch & Celebration

It is with pleasure that Wellington City Libraries will be hosting an evening on Monday 12th December 2016 at 5.30 p.m. to celebrate Steele Roberts Aotearoa 20 years of publishing with the launch of two new collections of poems, one by Kevin Ireland and the other by Peter Bland.

Twenty years ago, on this same day, at Wellington City Libraries, Steele Roberts Aotearoa published their first book titled Dedications by J. C. Sturm (better known at Jackie Baxter, once our New Zealand Librarian)

We invite you to join us on the ground floor of the Central Library to enjoy this evening of celebration and poetry.

Kevin and Peter launch

Write a poem, win a poetry book!

To celebrate the oncoming National Poetry Day on 28 August, we have a copy of Clive James’ latest poetry book, Sentenced to Life to give away, kindly donated by Unity Bookshop who will host the  6 Poets in 60 minutes lunchtime readings by Wellington poets Geoff Cochrane, Joan Fleming, Anna Jackson, Nina Powles, Helen Rickerby and Chris Tse.

You will find a box on the First Floor in the Central Library where you can drop off your poem until Sunday 30 August 4pm. Entries will be read and a winner selected the following week. Make sure you give your name and contact details!

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Poetry for the people – Literature picks for January

This month’s top pick is a book which aims to make poetry accessible and to encourage reluctant readers to explore a literary form which is often perceived as difficult. Also featuring in this month’s selection is Six poets ; from Hardy to Larkin: An anthology by the always wonderful Alan Bennett.
Your mouth will water at the descriptions of memorable meals in Fictitious Dishes and a little light-heartedness is introduced into the mix by a new anthology of articles written for ‘The New Zealand Herald” by our own Bob Jones and a book of household hints collected from great writers.

Syndetics book coverThis is the way of the world : real life poetry / Felix Dennis ; illustrated by Bill Sanderson.
This Is The Way Of The World is a collection of poems specially selected by the author to encourage adults who lack confidence in their reading skills and to introduce new readers to the world of poetry. Easy to read and charting life’s course from birth through to death, the poems deal with real life issues. This Is The Way Of The World is Felix Dennis’s 8th book of verse and includes new poems as well as old favourites. In addition to containing a free spoken-word CD, the book contains many beautiful colour illustrations by Bill Sanderson.” (Globalbooks summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Shakespeare notebooks / text by James Goss [and 8 others] ; illustrations by Mike Collins.
“Many people know about William Shakespeare’s famous encounter with the Doctor at the Globe Theatre in 1599. But what few people know (though many have suspected) is that it was not the first time they met. Drawn from recently-discovered archives, The Shakespeare Notebooks is the holy grail of Bard scholars: conclusive proof that the Doctor not only appeared throughout Shakespeare’s life, but had a significant impact on his writing.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue)

Syndetics book coverThe Facts on File dictionary of clichés / Christine Ammer.
“This updated and expanded edition of a popular title explains the meanings and origins of almost 4,000 cliches and common expressions. Each entry includes the meaning of the cliche or expression, its origin and early uses, the historical development of the phrase, and its present-day usage. (Globalbooks summary)

Syndetics book coverFictitious dishes : an album of literature’s most memorable meals / Dinah Fried.
“No recipes, but an assortment of photographic interpretations of culinary moments from contemporary and classic literature. Fried pairs each place setting with the text from that book that inspired its creation. She includes food facts and anecdotes about the authors, their work, and their culinary predilections.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue)

Syndetics book coverNo punches pulled : the best of Bob Jones / Bob Jones.
“Every week Bob Jones delivers an upper cut to the foibles, foolishness and outright fatuousness of contemporary life. In this collection of the best of his columns from the NZ Herald, he lines up the pious, the pitiful and the politically correct – and never pulls his punches. Uncompromising and unexpurgated, this is Sir Bob at his most honest and hilarious.” (Globalbooks summary)

Syndetics book coverThe household tips of the great writers / Mark Crick.
“”As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with a Great Writer and his house.” Household Tips of the Great Writers covers all your household needs, indoors and outdoors, from pruning a rose bush with Pablo Neruda to mending a dripping tap with Jean-Paul Sartre. Throwing a tea-party? Irvine Welsh has the recipe for the perfect chocolate cake, though that’s not all he’s cooking. [This little book] is brilliant, hilarious, and always pitch-perfect.” (Globalbooks summary)

Syndetics book coverSix poets : Hardy to Larkin : an anthology / [edited] by Alan Bennett.
“Writers like to elude their public, lead them a bit of a dance. They take them down untrodden paths, land them in unknown country where they have to ask for directions.In this personal anthology, Alan Bennett has chosen over seventy poems by six well-loved poets, discussing the writers and their verse in his customary conversational style through anecdote, shrewd appraisal and spare but telling biographical detail. Ranging from hidden treasures to famous poems, this is a collection for the beginner and the expert alike.” (Abridged from Globalbooks summary)

Syndetics book coverPhilosophy in children’s literature / edited by Peter R. Costello.
“Editor Costello (Providence College) brings together an excellent sequence of examinations of the philosophical ideas in various children’s literature. The text is split into unequal thirds that discuss picture books (nine chapters), chapter books (five chapters), and multiple readings/interpretations of the same text (four chapters, two per text). The contributors are primarily philosophers.” (CHOICE)

Spring Poetry Evening on 1 October

spring Celebrate Spring’s arrival with inspirational poetry read in both Chinese and English on 1 October at the Central Library. Come and listen to poets Madeleine Slavick and Rhondda Greig read and share their thoughts on Spring; Diana Bridge’s fine selection of translations of classical Chinese poetry and her own work; and Luo Hui rounding up with bilingual readings and a few pieces of prose. The much-loved modern poems by Xu Zhimo and Gu Cheng will be juxtaposed with classic poems from the Tang dynasty.

There will also be a chance for you to read your poems, please send them to enquiries@wcl.govt.nz before 29 September.

This Chinese-themed poetry reading is jointly organised by the Confucius Institute at Victoria University of Wellington and Wellington City Libraries.

Wednesday 1 October
6:00-7:30pm
Central Library

Chinese-Poetry

 

Our favourites for National Poetry Day!

To celebrate our national celebration of poetry, we compiled a list of some of our favourite poetry books and poets. First, books:

Syndetics book coverCollected poems, 1957-1982 / Wendell Berry.
“A longtime spokesman for conservation, common sense, and sustainable agriculture, Wendell Berry writes eloquently in several styles and methods. Among other literary forms, he is a poet of great clarity and sureness. His love of language and his care for its music are matched only by his fidelity to the subjects he has written of during his first twenty-five years of work: land and nature, the family and community, tradition as the groundwork for life and culture. His graceful elegies sit easily alongside lyrics of humor and biting satire. Husbandman and husband, philosopher and Mad Farmer, he writes of values that endure, of earthy truths and universal imagery. His vision is one of hope and memory, of determination and faithfulness. For this far-reaching yet portable volume, Berry has chosen nearly two hundred poems from his previous eight collections.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLovely, raspberry : poems / Aaron Belz.
Clever wordplay in the style of the brilliant Billy Collins. “In this masterfully offbeat second collection, Aaron Belz writes with a deadpan whimsy that fronts mischievously for keen cultural insights in poems like You Bore Me, Asking Al Gore About the Muse, and Thirty Illegal Moves in the Cloud-Shape Game.” “Reading Aaron Belz is like dreaming of a summer vacation and then taking it.” – John Ashbery” (courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverOld Possum’s book of practical cats / by T.S. Eliot ; drawings by Edward Gorey.
“An engaging collection of humorous poems. These verses, originally composed to amuse Eliot’s intimate friends, have proven irresistible to cat lovers, lovers of nonsense, and admirers of Eliot throughout the English-speaking world. “Enough ferocious fancy and parody to knock the spots off most cat books and most…verses” (Time). Drawings by Nicolas Bentley.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNox / Anne Carson.
Moving, multi-media concertina-style – unique! “Created after the death of her brother, Carson’s haunting and beautiful “Nox” is her first book of poetry in five years–a unique, illustrated, accordion-fold-out “book in a box.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 / selected by Glyn Maxwell.
Nobel prize winner and playful heavyweight. “Across sixty-five years, Walcott has grappled with the themes that have defined his work as they have defined his life: the unsolvable riddle of identity; the painful legacy of colonialism on his native Caribbean island of St. Lucia; the mysteries of faith and love and the natural world; the Western canon, celebrated and problematic; the trauma of growing old, of losing friends, family, one’s own memory. This collection, selected by Walcott’s friend the English poet Glyn Maxwell, will prove as enduring as the questions, the passions, that have driven Walcott to write for more than half a century.” (adapted from Syndetics annotation)

Syndetics book coverPoems that make grown men cry : 100 men on the words that move them / edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.Diverse, personal collection of moving poems from famous actors, writers and pop culture figures. “A unique collection of poetry so powerful that 100 grown men–bestselling authors, poets laureate, and other eminent figures from the arts, sciences, and politics–have been moved to tears. Here they deliver touching and insightful personal introductions to a range of beloved poems. …Father-and-son team Anthony and Ben Holden, a British writer and movie producer respectively, have teamed up to compile a poetry anthology unlike any other.” (adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUltramarine / Raymond Carver.
“Mr. Carver is heir to that most appealing American poetic voice, the lyricism of Theodore Roethke and James Wright…. this book is a treasure, one to return to. No one’s brevity is as rich, as complete, as Raymond Carver’s.”–New York Times Book Review (Syndetics summary).
Also by the same poet: Where water comes together with other water : poems

Syndetics book coverAsk me : 100 essential poems / William Stafford ; edited by Kim Stafford.
Gentle spirit, Oregon poet and former Laureate. “In our time there has been no poet who revived human hearts and spirits more convincingly than William Stafford.” —Naomi Shihab Nye.

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.
—from “Ask Me”
 “In celebration of the poet’s centennial, Ask Me collects one hundred of William Stafford’s essential poems. As a conscientious objector during World War II, while assigned to Civilian Public Service camps Stafford began his daily writing practice, a lifelong early-morning ritual of witness. His poetry reveals the consequences of violence, the daily necessity of moral decisions, and the bounty of art. Selected and with a note by Kim Stafford, Ask Me presents the best from a profound and original American voice.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCollected poems, 1947-1997 / Allen Ginsberg.Collected Poems, 1947-1997
“Here, for the first time, is a volume that gathers the published verse of Allen Ginsberg in its entirety, a half century of brilliant work from one of America’s great poets. As the chief figure among the Beats, Ginsberg changed the course of American poetry, liberating it from closed academic forms with the creation of open, vocal, spontaneous, and energetic postmodern verse. Ginsberg’s raw tones and attitudes of spiritual liberation also helped catalyze a psychological revolution that has become a permanent part of our cultural heritage, profoundly influencing not only poetry, popular song, and speech but also our view of the world.” (Syndetics summary)

PoetryCovers
Elemental : Central Otago poems by Brian Turner ; photographs by Gilbert Van Reenen.
Other animals by Therese Lloyd.
Kōiwi, kōiwi = Bone, bone by Hinemoana Baker.
First World War poems edited by Andrew Motion.

Entertaining, unpredictable alt-lit from Steve Roggenbuck:
If u dont love the moon your an ass hole : poems and selfies
Crunk juice

Also:
A lasting joy; an anthology chosen and introduced by C. Day Lewis.
Collected Poems by G. K. Chesterton
Come Rain Hail by Hone Tuwhare

And poets:

Lauris Edmond
Charles Brasch
Harry Ricketts
Gerard Manley Hopkins
John Betjeman

The pen and the sword – First World War poetry, letters and memoirs

541px-Poppy-closeupIs the pen mightier than the sword? In a physical sense alas no — otherwise the celebrated war poets would not have been so cruelly cut down in their prime — but the curious phenomenon about this terrible episode in our history is that it produced a magnificent flowering of the written word. Many of those fighting at the front were highly educated men, well versed in the classics and literature. Poetry — considered the highest of the literary forms — was the natural medium in which to express not the pity and the horror of this dreadful war but also a heightened sense of the beauty of life. It is the poignancy of this mix, coupled with the youth of the poets, which has the power to move us so profoundly today.

“The Great silence” followed The Great War — a period when everybody wanted to forget about it and nobody wanted to talk about it. Memoirs were slow to come, and many have only just been produced using letters and diaries as source material.

There are many many books about this war to end all wars — and this being the centenary year of the conflict there are likely to be many more. Those we have chosen below are a guide to what is held in each category. Have a read!

Poetry:

Syndetics book cover1914 : poetry remembers / edited by Carol Ann Duffy.
“The First World War holds a unique place in the nation’s history; the poetry it produced, a unique place in the nation’s hearts. To mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has engaged the most eminent poets of the present to choose the writing from the Great War that touched them most profoundly: their choices are here in this powerful and moving assembly. But this anthology is more than a record of war writing. Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned these same poets of the present to look back across the past and write a poem of their own in response to the war to end all wars.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFirst World War poems / edited by Andrew Motion.
“The First World War produced some of the most haunting and memorable poetry of our age. In this compelling anthology, the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion guides us through both the horror and the pity of that conflict, from the trenches of the Western Front to reflections from our own age. With a selection of our best-known war poets, this collection also returns lesser known pieces to the light and extends the selection right through to the present day. The text serves to remind us how poetry of that time has, more than any other art from, come to stand testament to the grief and outrage occasioned by World War I” (Summary from Global Books)

Biographies & memoirs:

Syndetics book coverTestament of youth : an autobiographical study of the years 1900-1925 / by Vera Brittain ; with an introduction by Mark Bostridge ; and a preface by Shirley Williams.
“In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era. TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Englishman’s daughter : a true story of love and betrayal in World War I / Ben Macintyre.The Englishman’s Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War One
“In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishmans Daughter is the never-before-told story of these extraordinary men, their protectors, and of the haunting love affair between Private Robert Digby and Claire Dessenne, the most beautiful woman in Villeret. Their passion would result in the birth of a child known as The Englishmans Daughter.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFor king and country : voices from the First World War / edited by Brian MacArthur.
“Far more than an anthology, this gripping collection of writings tells the story of World War I from the perspective of those who endured its horrors both at home and abroad. From the men who served in Europe comenbsp;accounts of fear, tedium, horror, and occasional joy, while those on the home front describe the pain ofnbsp;waiting for news of their loved ones. Along with selections from letters, diary entries, and memoirs, famous songs sung in the trenches as well as poems from soldiers and noted authors alike are also included.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFighting on the Home Front : the legacy of women in World War One / Kate Adie.
“Bestselling author and award-winning former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie reveals the ways in which women’s lives changed during World War One In 1914 the world changed forever. When World War One broke out and a generation of men went off to fight, women emerged from the shadows of their domestic lives. Now a visible force in public life, they began to take up essential roles – from transport to policing, munitions to sport, entertainment, even politics. Kate Adie charts the seismic move towards equal rights with men that began a century ago and asks what these women achieved for future generations. This is history at its best – a vivid, compelling account of the pioneering women who helped win the war.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverTickled to death to go : memoirs of a cavalryman in the First World War / edited by Richard van Emden.
“Tickled to Death to Go is no ordinary memoir. Illuminated by Ben Clouting’s lively sense of humour and healthy disrespect for petty restrictions, it is a remarkable story told in his own words” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours.” (Summary from Global Books)

And a novel which reads like a memoir (you will not believe it’s fiction!):

Syndetics book coverDiary of an ordinary woman / Margaret Forster.
“Margaret Forster presents the ‘edited’ diary of a woman, born in 1901, whose life spans the twentieth century. On the eve of the Great War, Millicent King begins to keep her journal and vividly records the dramas of everyday life in a family touched by war, tragedy, and money troubles. From bohemian London to Rome in the 1920s her story moves on to social work and the build-up to another war, in which she drives ambulances through the bombed streets of London. Here is twentieth-century woman in close-up coping with the tragedies and upheavals of women’s lives from WWI to Greenham Common and beyond. A triumph of resolution and evocation, this is a beautifully observed story of an ordinary woman’s life – a narrative where every word rings true.”. (Summary from Global Books)

Letters:

Letters were the commonest form of communication in the early 1900s and people of all classes wrote them frequently. In the highly literate letters of the officers and the simple and direct communications of the ordinary soldiers we see the a true history of the war emerge — the terrible battles, the day-to-day experience of the troops, and the realities of life at home.

Syndetics book coverLetters from the trenches : a soldier of the Great War / Bill Lamin.
“I was very pleased to hear from you and that you are going on all right . . . We have had another terrible time this week the men here say it was worst than the Somme advance last July. We lost a lot of men but we got where we were asked to take. It was awful I am alright got buried and knocked about but quite well now and hope to remain so. We were praised by the general and all, everybody said we had done well, quite a success . . . It is a rum job waiting for the time to come to (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPrivate wars : personal records of the Anzacs in the Great War / Greg Kerr.
“Greg Kerr retraces the journey of Australian and New Zealand troops from Gallipoli in 1915 to the final penetration of the Hindenburg Line in 1918. While covering the general strategic course of the war, the author focuses on the human side of the war. Similar to his acclaimed Lost Anzacs: The Story of Two Brothers, Kerr follows the experiences of roughly sixty figures–officers, privates, nurses–and captures their experiences through judicious and uncensored extracts from their letters and diaries. The book also includes numerous photos, many previously unpublished. The combination of photos, letters, and historical backgroundmake for an unforgettable account of what the war was really like on the ground.” (Syndetics summary).

And what happened next…

Syndetics book coverSingled out : how two million women survived without men after the First World War / Virginia Nicholson.
“The First World War deprived Britain of three quarters of a million soldiers, leaving as many more incapacitated. In 1919 a generation of women who unquestioningly believed marriage to be their birthright discovered that here were, quite simply, not enough men to go round. They became known as ‘the Surplus Women’.” “Many of us remember them: they wee our teachers, our maiden aunts, women who seemed to have lost out life’s feast. This book tells their stories.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverCasualty figures : how five men survived the First World War / Michèle Barrett.
“In this delicate look at history in microcosm, Barrett (literary and cultural theory, Queen Mary, University of London) follows the experience of five soldiers who survived World War I, two in the medical corps and three in the trenches. Their survival was debatable, though each man suffered from shell shock that affected his later life and damaged his relations with family and friends. Using private letters, diaries and military records Barrett paints a harrowing portrait of these men, what they survived and how they coped but never really recovered. This is a beautifully written psychological biography that, sadly, is all too timely.” (Syndetics summary)

Poetic Voices Of Africa

Poetic Voices Of Africa by Wellington City Libraries on Mixcloud

A line up of five African poets from Ethiopia, South Sudan, and American’s from Georgia, Hawaii and Washington DC came together at Wellington Central Library to perform their array of poetry leading up to the Africa Day celebration on Saturday 24 May at Shed 6.
Their works are as diverse as their backgrounds, reflecting on politics, society, war, exile, the hopes and dreams of humanity, all intrinsically linked to the African continent and its many facets, often overlooked in favour of a more one-dimensional narrative.

Readings by: L. E. Scott, Makuei Aken, Tony Hopkins, Inshirah Mahal, and Samson Sahele

An evening of African Poetry

Come and join us for an evening of Poetry with Poetic Voices of Africa. A line up of six African poets from Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan, and American poets from Georgia, Hawaii and Washington DC have come together to perform their array of poetry leading up to the Africa Day celebration on Saturday 24 May at Shed 6.
Their works are as diverse as their backgrounds, reflecting on politics, society, war, exile, the hopes and dreams of humanity, all intrinsically linked to the African continent and its many facets, often overlooked in favour of a more one-dimensional narrative.

Sam Manzanza
The session will be introduced and concluded by the amazing sounds of Sam Manzanza’s drum.

Here is a brief introduction to the participants:

L. E. ScottLewis Scott
African American jazz poet L. E. Scott was born in Cordele, Georgia, in the USA. His work is underpinned by the sounds and cadences of the spoken word of the Black Church. He defines his work as jazz blues, a repetition of sound that he trusts much more than the creation of defined words.

Wanjiku Kiarie Wanjiku Kiarie
Wanjiku Kiarie was born in Kenya and came to New Zealand after some years living in London. Her writing reflects insightfulness, political awareness and a compassion for humanity that endures in spite of our frailties and our duplicity of spirit. Wanjiku’s poetry collection, I Used To Sell Bones, was published in 2009.

Makuei AkenMakuei Aken
Poet and musician Makuei Aken fled from his village in war-torn southern Sudan at the age of 9. Much of his writing reflects the reality of a young man learning to live with the memories of that life experience. In 2011 Makuei’s creative work earned him the Arts Access Aotearoa Young Artist Award.

Tony HopkinsTony Hopkins
Tony Hopkins is an actor, poet, and storyteller of African and Cherokee descent, originally from Washington DC and now resident in Wellington. As a storyteller Tony has performed internationally and throughout New Zealand, specialising in telling traditional African, African American and Native American legends as well as personal stories from his own life.

Inshirah MahalInshirah Mahal
Inshirah Mahal has written poetry since she could write. In explaining what poetry means to her she says, “My inner voice took the form of a poet when I was a little girl. It has always comforted me and made sense of this world. I will always treasure my Muse and I am grateful, still, for this life-long companion.”

Samson SaheleSamson Sahele
Samson Sahele, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was a journalist and newspaper editor in Addis Ababa before being forced to flee his homeland in 1996. He arrived in New Zealand in 2000 and settled in Wellington. Along with the recent publication of this poetry collection, Journey with My Shadow, Samson is writing a book in his first language, Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, about his experience as an Ethiopian in exile.

An evening of African Poetry


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