Wellington Writers Walk 21st anniversary: Bill Manhire

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the fabulous Wellington Writers Walk, we’ve taken a closer look  at just a few of the authors represented. In this blog we take a look at Bill Manhire’s typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Milky Way Bar’ in Milky Way Bar, Victoria University Press, 1991

I live at the edge
of the universe,
like everybody else.

In the video below, local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith explore Manhire’s work, to be found overlooking the water by the  bridge, near the Hikitia floating crane. They provide a fascinating insight into Bill Manhire’s work life and creative process, and also celebrate his continuing achievements, body of work and connections to Wellington.

Milky Way bar / Manhire, Bill
“Collection of award winning Bill Manhire poetry first released in 1992. Which includes his Wellington Writers Walk poem  ” (Adapted from Catalogue)




Selected poems / Manhire, Bill
“This generous selection of Bill Manhire’s poems moves from playful early pieces like “On Originality” and “How to Take off Your Clothes at the Picnic” to major works of recent years such as “Hotel Emergencies”–a powerful response to contemporary atrocities–and “Erebus Voices”–written to be read by Sir Edmund Hillary at the 25th anniversary of the Mt. Erebus tragedy. The poems featured in this definitive collection of New Zealand’s most important poet are deceptively simple, often funny, and always revelatory of his own and his country’s history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

South Pacific / Manhire, Bill
“”In this lively, humorous and original book, the romance of the Pacific confronts the truth about that paradise. The stories include a do-it-yourself murder mystery an assassination attempt on the Queen, the hilarious account of a Writers’ Congress in Kuala Lumpur, and an unsettling, futuristic tale from 1999.” “Set in New Zealand and its environs, several of the pieces were first collected in The New Land, which won the 1990 Buckland Award for the best work of literature published in New Zealand. In South Pacific Bill Manhire has added view tales and other work. A vein of satire runs through his stories. Yet rooted as many of them are in a particular place and time, the laughter they generate is anything but local.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The victims of lightning / Manhire, Bill
“Building on previous themes and introducing some new techniques, this collection reveals a respected poet at the height of his powers. Here are finely crafted lyrics, found poems, a bracket of songs, and complex emotions–all tempered by the use of humor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Wow / Manhire, Bill
“Excuse me if I laugh. The roads are dark and large books block our path. The air we breathe is made of evening air. The world is longer than the road that brings us here. Bill Manhire’s new book begins with the song of an extinct bird, the huia, and journeys on into troubling futures. These poems reach for the possibilities of lyric, even as their worlds are being threatened in a range of agitating ways. In the title poem we hear a baby say Wow to life and to the astonishing prospect of language; but almost immediately we hear the world reply: Also. Along the way there are several desperate jokes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The stories of Bill Manhire / Manhire, Bill
“Collects the stories from The New Land : A Picture Book (1990) and the stories added to South Pacific (1994) and Songs of My Life (1996). In addition there are previously uncollected and unpublished stories, the choose-your-own-adventure novella The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (1988), and the memoir Under the Influence (2003).” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Lifted / Manhire, Bill
“An award-winning collection exploring the plight of the secular spirit in the face of mortality and human violence, this work demonstrates a poet writing at the height of his powers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Some things to place in a coffin / Manhire, Bill
“Bill Manhire’s first new collection of poems for seven years takes its title from his elegy for his close friend the painter Ralph Hotere, who died in 2013. At its heart is the sequence ‘Known Unto God’, commissioned by the BBC for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016. These are poems of memory and mortality, which are also full of jokes and good tunes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Mutes & earthquakes : Bill Manhire’s creative writing course at Victoria

Wellington Writers Walk: Iris Guiver Wilkinson, aka Robin Hyde

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the fabulous Wellington Writers Walk, we’ve taken a closer look at just a few of the authors represented. In this blog we take a look at Iris Guiver Wilkinson’s, aka Robin Hyde’s, typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Words’ in Young Knowledge: The Poems of Robin Hyde, ed. Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press, 2003

Yet I think, having used my words as the kings used gold,

Ere we came by the rustling jest of the paper kings,

I who am overbold will be steadily bold,

In the counted tale of things.

In the video below, local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith explain Hyde’s work, to be found on a shaded bench overlooking the bay at the back of Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand. They provide a fascinating insight into Robin Hyde’s short, complex and eventful life, and also celebrate her astounding body of work and connections to Wellington.

Young knowledge : the poems of Robin Hyde / Hyde, Robin
“Familiar to many for her fiction and her life story, after publication of “The Book of Iris”, “The Book of Nadath” and the reissue of “The Godwits Fly” in recent years, prolific writer Robin Hyde’s first and best love was actually her poetry. “Young Knowledge: the Poems of Robin Hyde” presents for the very first time a substantial collection of Hyde’s powems, set as a choronological record.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of Iris : a life of Robin Hyde / Challis, D. A.
“It is a gripping and profoundly moving story about a “short, tumultuous, incredibly productive, sad and doomed life. It suggests comparison with both Mansfield and Frame . . .”. A dramatic and densely packed story, including appalling accounts of hidden pregnancies, life as a solo mother, drug dependency, intimate acquaintance with sexism and poverty, mental breakdown, and an extraordinary trip in China during the Sino-Japanese war.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The godwits fly / Hyde, Robin
“”By the time Robin Hyde wrote The Godwits Fly she was an experienced and prolific poet, journalist and novelist with an emerging international reputation. She could write with precision and edge. She was alert to different ways of seeing and voicing experience, intense and independent-minded. She stood for the underdog and for the cause of humanity. Her own brief life – thirty-three years, 1906-39 – was a roller-coaster of successes and deep despair. But she held her own line passionately against all odds, and she took the consequences of living hard – recklessly at times – with bravery and spirit.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Nor the years condemn / Hyde, Robin
“‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.'” “The line from the Anzac verse provides the title for this novel, in which Robin Hyde shows the predicament of returned servicemen and women after the First World War. Through the story of Douglas Stark, we see the many ways in which New Zealand was failing their expectations. It was not the ‘land fit for heroes’ they had fought for, but a changing society moving through the tough times of the twenties and thirties.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of Nadath / Hyde, Robin
“The Book of Nadath is a long prose poem by well-known poet and novelist Robin Hyde which has remained unpublished for 60 years. Written in 1937, Hyde’s last year in New Zealand, it is a sounding device for all the concerns which mark The Godwits Fly, A Home in this World and Nor the Years Condemn. It is arguably the crowning achievement of her poetry. It expresses dilemmas of identity, race and gender still current at the end of the century; but the moment of 1937 is its primary focus, the problem of how to articulate crisis – which writing voice best serves political and spiritual truth – is its enduring fascination.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Iris and Me / Werry, Philippa
Philippa Werry’s  latest novel Iris and Me looks at Robin Hyde’s  entire life touching on her both her childhood and final days , but the book is primarily focussed on her time in China and her journey there. Including her time as a War correspondent during the Sino-Japanese War.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The uppish hen & other poems / Hyde, Robin
“A previously unpublished collection by Robin Hyde, one of NZ’s finest authors/ journalists, written for her son, Derek Challis. Richly illustrated by Glenorchy artist Dïne.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Meet the panel: Michelle Elvy

Coming soon to Newtown Library we have a very special launch event for the new anthology, A Kind of Shelter Whakaruru-taha.

The panel for this event features some of Aotearoa’s most acclaimed authors, poets and artists. Leading up to the launch, we thought we would place a spotlight on just a few of the stellar writers who will be in attendance.

Michelle Elvy is one of the co-editors of this fantastic anthology, Michelle is a writer, editor and teacher of creative writing. Her books include the everrumble and the other side of better, and she has co-edited, among others, the anthologies Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand (with Paula Morris and James Norcliffe, and Breach of All Size: Small Stories on Ulysses, Love and Venice (with Marco Sonzogni). Michelle is also the founder of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and National Flash Fiction Day; she is also managing editor of the annual Best Small Fictions anthology and is currently editing, with Vaughan Rapatahana, a collection of New Zealand multilingual microfiction. She grew up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and now lives in Ōtepoti Dunedin.

Michelle Elvy is one of our honoured guests  at our unmissable A Kind of Shelter Whakaruru-taha event, which will have conversations and readings from some of Aotearoa’s finest writers.

Our other honoured guests include Witi Ihimaera, Pip Adam, Tina Makereti, Harry Ricketts, Gregory O’Brien, Ya-Wen Ho and Noa Noa von Bassewitz.

Book launch event on Facebook

Friday 26th of May,  6-7pm

Newtown Library

Please note – we anticipate that this event will be very popular and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

A Kind of Shelter Whakaruru-taha : An anthology of new writing for a new world order / Ihimaera, Witi
“Sixty-eight writers and eight artists gather at a hui in a magnificent cave-like dwelling or meeting house. In the middle is a table, the tepu korero, from which the rangatira speak; they converse with honoured guests, and their rangatira-korero embody the tahuhu, the over-arching horizontal ridge pole, of the shelter. In a series of rich conversations, those present discuss our world in the second decade of this century; they look at decolonisation, indigeneity, climate change . . . this is what they see. Edited by Witi Ihimaera and Michelle Elvy, this fresh, exciting anthology features poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction, as well as korero or conversations between writers and work by local and international artists. The lineup from Aoteraoa includes, among others, Alison Wong, Paula Morris, Anne Salmond, Tina Makereti, Ben Brown, David Eggleton, Cilla McQueen, Hinemoana Baker, Erik Kennedy, Ian Wedde, Nina Mingya Powles, Gregory O’ Brien, Vincent O’ Sullivan, Patricia Grace, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Whiti Hereaka. Guest writers from overseas include Aparecida Vilaç a, Jose-Luis Novo and Ru Freeman.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Kaleidoscopes in the Dark: Our interview with Bethany G. Rogers

Bethany G. Rogers debut short story collection Kaleidoscopes in the Dark is a collection of twisted fairy tales and more modern dark themed tales that primarily draw on the English gothic tradition.

The book is full of black humour, macabre events and radical reimagining’s of traditional folktales. Her work has been compared to the writing of Angela Carter, the adult work of Roald Dahl (especially his Tales of the unexpected series) and even the darker elements of Dickens. Many of the more modern stories will also enchant fans of the TV show Black Mirror. Readers can expect unexpected twists and turns at every juncture and to be surprised and drawn into each tale. It is a delightfully, frightful short read.

The collection took eleven years to write and was helped to completion by Creative New Zealand and The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc’s mentorship programme for emerging writers.

Bethany G. Rogers lives in Queenstown and originally hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK. Many of the stories are influenced by her Northeast England upbringing.

So, when we got the opportunity to interview the Bethany G. Rogers about her Kaleidoscopes in the Dark, we jumped at it!

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Bethany G. Rogers for taking the time to answer our questions about Kaleidoscopes in the Dark and her writing practice, and for providing such an illuminating insight into her world and work.

You can watch this fascinating and insightful interview below,  or by visiting our YouTube channel here.

Kaleidoscopes in the Dark / Rogers, B. G
“Bethany G. Rogers debut short story collection Kaleidoscopes in the Dark is a collection of twisted fairy tales and more modern dark themed tales that primarily draw on the  English gothic tradition. Full of black humour,  macabre events and radical reimagining’s of  traditional folktales. Her work has been compared to the writing of Angela Carter,  the adult work of Roald Dhal’s (especially his Tales of the unexpected series)  and even the darker elements of Dickens,  many of the more modern stories will also enchant fans of  the Black Mirror TV show.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts: Our May eBook Club pick!

Big Library Read: Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts, by Josie Shapiro

Welcome to the WCL eBook Club, where each month we highlight a popular eBook in our digital collection and give access to an unlimited number of downloads on Libby. That means no waiting in long reserves queues- you’ll get instant access to our monthly popular pick!

From May 20 – June 2, our eBook Club title is the stunning, unforgettable debut novel from Josie Shapiro — Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts.

It’s a heart-warming coming-of-age story about overcoming adversity. At its centre is Mickey Bloom who is bullied at school and dyslexic who doesn’t think of herself as special, until she discovers her talent for running. Initially she becomes a star, but eventually the pressure to succeed becomes too much and her dreams collapse in tatters. The plot then skips forward a few years — Mickey is now in a dead-end job with a drop-kick boyfriend and a seriously ill mother. After nursing her mother she begins to realise that the only way to find herself again is to run.

The novel is about the glory and pain of putting everything you have on the line to find yourself. An uplifting and inspiring story about a young woman overcoming some big hurdles, it also plunges the reader into the gruelling world of the long-distance runner.

Josie states that the initial idea for the novel came from the idea of “a woman, about to embark on something immensely difficult”. The book was inspired by events from Josie’s own life, and from other athletes she’d heard about.

About Josie Shapiro

Josie Shapiro, larger imageJosie Shapiro has a master’s in creative writing from the University of Auckland, where she was awarded a Wallace Arts Scholarship for her work. Her short stories have been published online and in literary journals and her work is included on the anthology Ko Aotearoa Tatou: We are New Zealand. In February, Josie was awarded a Michael King Writers Centre residency.

Her stunning debut novel won the Allen & Unwin Commercial Fiction Prize, and although the book has only just been released it has already featured heavily on many hot, must-read lists. We loved the book so much we decided to make it our eBook club title pick. You can read for free about what all the excitement is about yourself by joining us on our Libby app as we offer unlimited downloads in May of this fabulous newly released title, Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro.

Watch our interview with Josie:

Unlimited downloads will be available through Libby from May 20th!


Josie Shapiro’s accomplished debut novel has the compulsive forward motion of a world-class race. You don’t have to be a runner to get the high, just read this book!’

-Kirsten McDougall, author of She’s a Killer

The stunning debut novel by the winner of the Allen & Unwin Commercial Fiction Prize. If you loved Lessons in Chemistry and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you will adore Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts.

-OverDrive Description

Culprits in the Capital: Newtown Mystery in the Library, 9 June

Do you love delving into tales full of mystery and thrills?

Then join us for an exciting evening of criminally good conversation featuring four local authors.

The Ngaio Marsh Awards, in association with Wellington City Libraries, invites booklovers to a fascinating author panel. 2021 Ngaios winner Brannavan Gnanalingam and two-time Ngaios finalist Kirsten McDougall are joined by fellow Wellington novelists Anne Harre and Rodney Strong to discuss how they craft page-turning stories about captivating characters.

Event details

WHEN: Friday 9 June 2023, 6pm

WHERE: Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Wellington

This is a free event

Please note we expect this event to be very popular and seating will be on a first come first served basis.

Event on Facebook – Newtown Mystery in the Library

Ngaio Marsh Awards on Facebook
Ngaio Marsh Awards on Facebook

About the panellists:

Anne Harre is an author and school librarian in Wellington who’s also worked as a music teacher, bookseller, and editor of the New Zealand Poetry Society anthology. Her first crime novel The leaning man was praised as “slick, engaging and compelling” (Academy of NZ Literature).

Brannavan Gnanalingam is a Wellington novelist, freelance writer, and property lawyer who was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Lower Hutt. He’s written seven novels, been listed for the Ockham NZ Book Awards three times, and won a 2021 Ngaio Marsh Award for Sprigs.

Kirsten McDougall is an award-winning short story writer, novelist, and creative writing teacher who lives in Ōwhiro Bay. Her novels have been longlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards and the Dublin Literary Award, and Kirsten is a two-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Rodney Strong is a Porirua author who left his day job in 2016 to follow his lifelong dream of being a writer. He has since published more than a dozen books for children and adults, including five Ghostly Hitchhiker mysteries and five Silvermoon Retirement Village mysteries.

And don’t forget to check out our first Ngaio Marsh Awards event earlier in the month (1 June at Karori Library):

Capital Crimes – Karori Mystery in the Library

Featuring: Charity Norman, Helen Vivienne Fletcher,  Jennifer Lane and Alistair Luke.

Selected works

Below is a selection of titles from the authors involved available to borrow from the Library:

Slow down you’re here. / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“Kavita is stuck in a dead-end marriage. A parent of two small kids, she is the family’s main breadwinner. An old flame unexpectedly offers her a week away in Waiheke. If she were to go, she’s not sure when – or if – she’d come back.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Sprigs / Gnanalingam, Brannavan
“It is Saturday afternoon and two boys’ schools are locked in battle for college rugby supremacy. Priya – a fifteen year old who barely belongs – watches from the sidelines. Then it is Saturday night and the team is partying. Priya’s friends have evaporated and she isn’t sure what to do. In the weeks after ‘the incident’ life seems to go on. But when whispers turn to confrontation, the institutions of wealth and privilege circle the wagons.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. The race is on between those who want the phone, the homeless man who’s pocketed it, and Stella.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

She’s a killer. / McDougall, Kirsten
“Set in a very near future New Zealand where the effects of climate change are really beginning to bite and affect both our physical world but also our society.Full of spicy and fresh characters that leap of the book’s pages and a plot effortlessly moves from razor sharp humour to Climate fear driven sure shot action.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tess / McDougall, Kirsten
“Tess is on the run when she’s picked up from the side of the road by lonely middle-aged father Lewis Rose. With reluctance, she’s drawn into his family troubles and comes to know a life she never had. Set in Masterton at the turn of the millennium, Tess is a gothic love story about the ties that bind and tear a family apart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Troy’s possibilities / Strong, Rodney
“For Troy Messer, time travel is great on TV, but it’s not reality. Troy is afflicted by a condition that lets him live out different futures for himself – lots of them. Jaded by all the possibilities, he drifts from day to day never knowing if what he’s living is real life or just a possible one. When he first meets Cat, it’s not even close to love at first sight. She pepper sprays him and steals his phone. But then he meets her again, and again. Finally he becomes convinced that this funny, crazy woman might just be what he needs to make sense of his existence. But in his strange world of possiblities nothing is straightforward.” (Adapted from Catalogue)