Recently at Te Awe Brandon Street Library we were delighted to do a very special launch event celebrating the release of Famdamily, the latest poetry collection by iconic Wellington poetry collective The Meow Gurrrls.
The Meow Gurrrls are a group of Wellington and Kāpiti Coast poets, named in part after Meow Café and Bar in Wellington where the group meet, who for some time now have been sharing poetry, wine, food and fine company.
This fabulous event featured readings from many of the collective and was hosted by the wonderful Mary McCallum from Makaro Press and The Cuba Press.
It proved to be an evening of unmissable new poetry from these acclaimed wordsmiths. The evening featured readings from six of the group, and was full of feats of verbal gymnastics and poetic daring.
If however you did miss it, do not fear! The Meow Gurrrls gave us permission to record the proceedings and we are now proud to present a podcast of the evening for your enjoyment.
The poets who read at this very special event were Janis Freegard, Kirsten Le Harivel, Mary Jane Duffy, Mary Macpherson, Abra Sandi King and Sudha Rao. We wish to extent our heartfelt thanks to The Meow Gurrrls and Mary McCallum.
You may now listen to that podcast below, or by following this link!
Friday August 25th is Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day! To celebrate we’re diving into our video archives to showcase Pōneke’s talented and thriving community of poets, many of which have blessed us with intimate readings, revealing interviewsand special events over the years.
As we celebrate the magic of poetry across Aotearoa, watch as these poets give us a sneak peek behind their creative processes and perform readings of their works.
And don’t miss our upcoming poetry launch at Te Awe Library, read on for all the event details…
Join us for an evening of unmissable new poetry from these acclaimed wordsmiths. The evening will feature readings from six of the group, and promises to be an evening full of feats of verbal gymnastics and poetic daring.
The poets who will be reading at this very special event are:
Kirsten Le Harivel
Mary Jane Duffy
Abra Sandi King
The Meow Gurrrls are a group of Wellington and Kāpiti Coast poets, named in part after Meow café/bar in Wellington where the group meet, who for some time now have been sharing poetry, wine, food and fine company.
Birdspeak is Arihia Latham’s debut collection of poems (published by Anahera Press) where birdcall and nature resound throughout the collection.
In many ways the book is a beautiful and poignant culmination of all the life experiences and places – physical, spiritual and intellectual – that have influenced and created Arihia as a creator up to this moment in time. Life experiences such as being an advocate for Māori and Pāpātuanuku, being a rongoā practitioner, as a māmā, as Kāi Tahu and her life as a creator.
This beautiful collection of poetry is both political and personal, tender and fierce. That weaves in the subjects, such as dismantling the patriarchy and its gender binary and decolonising / re-indigenising our history, as well subtly balancing tone and time, the universal and the everyday.
The collection is deeply steeped in Māori culture and is timed to be released to tie in with the Matariki celebrations.
The collection will be launched on Wednesday 12th July 6pm at Unity Books
When the opportunity to interview Arihia about Birdspeak and her creative practice arose, we jumped at it! We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Arihia for taking the time to answer our questions; for providing such an illuminating insight into her creative life, world and work; and also, for giving us a fabulous reading of the title poem ‘Birdspeak’.
Artwork by Natalie Couch. All art used in this interview is by kind permission and strictly copyrighted.
You can watch the video of our interview below, or on our YouTube channel.
Arihia Latham (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) is a writer, rongoā practitioner and cultural advisor. Her work has been widely published and anthologised in publications such as Huia, Landfall, Oranui, Foodcourt, Te Whē, Awa Wāhine, The Spinoff and Pantograph Punch.
She has presented at Verb festival, NZ Festival of the Arts and Te Hā and is a regular arts columnist for The Post and recently featured in the Lōemis festival reading poetry on a beach by firelight under the stars. She lives with her whānau in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Arihia’s collection Birdspeak will be available to borrow from the library soon.
Huia short stories 7 : contemporary Māori fiction
“This collection of short stories and novel extracts follows the 2007 Pikihuia Awards for Maori Writers. The biennial awards and their subsequent publications have become well-known and much-anticipated, as they bring more undiscovered gems to the attention of the reading public. This years awards were judged by James George, Barry Barclay, Kelly Ana Morey and Wena Harawira.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Huia short stories 10 : contemporary Māori fiction
“Here are the best short stories and novel extracts from the Pikihuia Awards for Maori writers 2013 as judged by Sir Mason Durie, Hana O’Regan and Reina Whaitiri. The book contains the stories from the finalists for Best Short Story written in English, Best Short Story written in Maori and Best Novel Extract.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Vā : stories by women of the moana
“Stories that tell Covid how we really feel, where a centipede god watches on with wry humour and wrath, where a sexy Samoan goes on a hot Tinder date in Honolulu, where a New Zealand doctor is horrified to be stuck at her cousin’s kava drink up in Fiji, where moana people travel the stars and navigate planets, stories where ancestors and atua live and breathe. Stories that defy colonial boundaries, and draw on the storytelling and oratory that is our inheritance. Immerse yourself in the intrigue, fantasy, humour and magic of beautiful strong stories by 38 writers from across the moana.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
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)
We’re thrilled to be hosting a special free event as part of Wellington Pride Festival’s‘Out in the City‘ celebrations. Local poets of all backgrounds and experience levels are invited to contribute to the vibrant and dynamic queer poetry scene, in Pōneke poets: open mic. We invite LGBTQIA+ poets and allies to join us and share oral histories, personal stories and creative voices in an open-mic poetry hour, hosted by local poet and comedian (and librarian) Alayne Dick.
This year’s Pride Festival theme is: ka mau ka muri — walking backwards into the future. As one of the oldest literary forms, crossing all boundaries, ethnicities, and time periods poetry expresses an imaginative wandering of culture and experience. We invite you to voice your creative hopes for the future through the engaging medium of spoken word poetry.
What: Pōneke poets: Open mic
When: Saturday 18th March, 1-2pm Where: Harbourview Lounge, Michael Fowler Center, CBD
Free entry, open to all ages and experience levels Event info on Facebook
As always, keep an eye out for our ‘Out in the City’ Wellington City Libraries stall! We’ll be there all day handing out our signature queer literary icon badges (as well as the usual rainbow library ones!), and talking about LGBTQIA+ books, movies, online resources and more. Come say hi!