“Reality ….. up for grabs” Our exclusive interview with author David Keenan

We think we’re walking into the future. We fool ourselves! But every last damn one of us is walking straight into the past.

David Keenan, in This Is Memorial Device

We are very excited to welcome (in an electronic sense) multi-award-winning Scottish author David Keenan for a wide-ranging online interview, exclusive to Wellington City Libraries.

David is one of the most innovative, exciting and dynamic authors writing in English at the moment, with huge ambitions for his work way beyond the conventional parameters of fiction. His fiction output is truly extraordinary — vibrant, visceral, genre-breaking and immersive. It could easily be said he’s a pioneering visionary when it comes to what fiction is and can be — and his many past lives are just as interesting.

A self-confessed music evangelist, David was a long-time writer for the legendary and hugely influential Wire magazine. He also ran — along with his wife —  the now sadly closed Volcanic Tongue record emporium which also served as a distribution company and record label. Volcanic Tongue was so legendary in alternative music circles that the British Library recently harvested its entire online output of over two million words for posterity.

We wish to extend to David our deepest and most sincere thanks for sharing his time with us, and for such a fabulous interview — which you can now view below.

Enjoy!

Books by David


This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986
“David Keenan’s debut novel is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 80s as they were temporarily transformed by the endless possibilities that came out of the freefall from punk rock.” (Catalogue)

For the good times
“Sammy and his three friends live in the Ardoyne, an impoverished, predominantly Catholic area of North Belfast that has become the epicentre of a country intent on cannibalising itself. They love sharp clothes, a good drink, and the songs of Perry Como – whose commitment to clean living holds up a dissonant mirror to their own attempts to rise above their circumstances. They dream of a Free State, and their methods for achieving this are uncompromising, even as they fully indulge in the spoils of war. Keen to make a difference, the boys find themselves in the incongruous position of running a comic-book shop taken over by the IRA.” (Catalogue)

England’s hidden reverse : a secret history of the esoteric underground : Coil, Current 93, Nurse With Wound
“An obsessively researched biography of the three seminal music groups Coil, Current 93, and Nurse With Wound that also illuminates the history of the English underground scene.” (Catalogue)

As well as:

  • Xstabeth
  • The Towers The Fields The Transmitters
  • To run wild in it: A handbook of Autonomic Tarot with Sophie Hollington
  • Monument Maker (Forthcoming in June)

Books mentioned

Below are just a few of the many books David mentions in the interview:


Cities of the red night / Burroughs, William S.
“While young men wage war against an evil empire of zealous mutants, the population of this modern inferno is afflicted with the epidemic of a radioactive virus. An opium-infused apocalyptic vision from the legendary author of Naked Lunch is the first of the trilogy with The Places of the Dead Roads and his final novel, The Western Plains.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man in the high castle / Dick, Philip K
“The United States has lost World War II and subsequently been divided between the Germans in the east and the Japanese in the west. In this world, we meet  Frank Frink, a dealer of counterfeit Americana, Nobusuke Tagomi, the Japanese trade minister in San Francisco, and Juliana Frink, Frank’s ex-wife, who may be more important than she realizes. These seemingly disparate characters gradually realize their connections to one another other just as they realize that something is not quite right about their world. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Kidnapped / Stevenson, Robert Louis
“On a stormy night off the coast of Scotland, young David Balfour faces his most terrifying test yet. He’s been double-crossed by his wicked uncle, tricked into a sea voyage, and sold into slavery. When the dashing Alan Breck Stewart comes aboard, he finds a brave friend at least, and the pair fight back against their treacherous, blackhearted shipmates. But then the ship hits a reef, it’s every man for himself, and David must battle against the raging sea itself” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Shakedown / Dicks, Terrance
“A classic novel starring the seventh Doctor and the Sontarans, back in print For thousands of years the Sontarans and the Rutans have fought a brutal war across the galaxy. Now the Sontarans have a secret plan to destroy the Rutan race — a secret plan the Doctor is racing against time to uncover. Only one Rutan spy knows the Sontarans’ plan. As he is chased through the galaxy in a desperate bid for his life, he reaches the planet Sentarion — where Professor Bernice Summerfield’s research into the history of the Sontaran-Rutan war is turning into an explosive reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I, robot / Asimov, Isaac
” In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age. Earth is ruled by master-machines but the Three Laws of Robotics have been designed to ensure humans maintain the upper hand: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. But what happens when a rogue robot’s idea of what is good for society contravenes the Three Laws?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Desolation angels / Kerouac, Jack
 Originally published in 1965, this autobiographical novel covers a key year in Jack Kerouac’s life–the period that led up to the publication of On the Road in September of 1957. After spending two months in the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington, Kerouac’s fictional self Jack Duluoz comes down from the isolated mountains to the wild excitement of the bars, jazz clubs, and parties of San Francisco, before traveling on to Mexico City, New York, Tangiers, Paris, and London. Duluoz attempts to extricate himself from the world but fails, for one must “live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” Desolation Angels is quintessential Kerouac.” (Catalogue)

Arthur Rimbaud : complete works / Rimbaud, Arthur
” The complete works of the French poet I1854-1891)  whose works  pre figured surrealism and whose influence on modern culture remains huge. Rimbaud produced the vast bulk of his works in adolescence famously quitting writing literature at age 20. A restless explorer who lived life to the full in all senses of the word both personally and physically. He is credited as being the precursor to modernist literature, who works remain vibrant and vital. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue).

The hero with a thousand faces / Campbell, Joseph
“In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction. As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars. As relevant today as when it was first published — and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….Ruby Solly

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Our final fabulous poet is Ruby Solly, who will be reading from her forthcoming collection Tōku Pāpā.


Ruby’s first solo collection of poetry, Tōku Pāpā is due to be released in February 2021.

About Ruby

“Ruby Solly (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe) is a writer, musician and taonga pūoro practitioner living in Pōneke. She has been published in journals such as Landfall, Starling and Sport, among others. In 2020 she released her debut album, Pōneke, which looks at the soundscapes of Wellington’s past, present and future through the use of taonga pūoro, cello, and environmental sounds. She is currently completing a PhD in public health, focusing on the use of taonga pūoro in hauora Māori. Tōku Pāpā, due to be published in Februrary 2021, [will be] her first book.”

From VUP

More from Ruby

Covid colab : a NZ lockdown music collaboration.
“Created during Alert Levels 4 and 3, Covid Colab is a gender-balanced, seven-track LP teeming with local talent. It features 37 Pōneke-based musicians.” (Description by Museums Wellington)

You can find Ruby’s debut album Pōneke on Bandcamp

During lockdown, Ruby was kind enough to speak to us about her work and her process. Have a listen to Ruby, speaking to our librarians Louise and Paul, below:

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….. Maggie Rainey-Smith

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have Maggie Rainey-Smith, reading a new work.

About Maggie

“Maggie Rainey-Smith is a novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist and book reviewer. Her latest novel Daughters of Messene is about immigration and the Greek Civil War. The Greek translation of this novel came out in June 2019 and is a best seller in Greece. In her working life she teaches Workplace English to migrants and refugees.”

From Maggie’s website

More from Maggie

About turns: a novel / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Irene has a secret. It slips out inadvertently during book club when the wine has been flowing too freely. Her teenage years as a marching girl are not something she had wanted her friend Ferrida to know about. She’s always wanted Ferrida’s approval, for her friendship is as important and fraught as the one with Paula, when they marched together all those years ago. But friends don’t necessarily march to the same beat, and Irene finds it hard to keep step. ABOUT TURNS, with its humorous insights into New Zealand women and their allegiances, will have you and your friends laughing in unison.” (Catalogue)

Daughters of Messene / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“‘Your history, Artemis, is full of female warriors.’ Artemis has the name of a goddess, but she has trouble living up to it. Instead she usually just runs away. She’s running now … away from the married man she’s been seeing, and the Greek community in New Zealand who think they know what’s best, and into the arms of family in the Peloponnese that she’s never met. She carries her mother’s ashes and an ipod with recordings, which bit by bit tell the shocking story of what happened to Artemis’ grandmother during the Greek Civil War. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come is a reading from Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….. Michael Fitzsimons

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have Michael Fitzsimons, reading an exclusive new poem.

About Michael

“Michael Fitzsimons is a writer and co-founder of Wellington communications and publishing company, Fitzbeck Creative. He’s a proud member of the three- person South Wellington Poetry Society and his first collection, Now You Know, combined poems with photography and was recommended in Radio New Zealand’s annual poetry highlights. Michael’s latest publishing project is Joy Cowley’s Veil Over Light. He lives in Seatoun with his wife, Rose, in a hillside house overlooking Wellington Harbour.”

Sourced from Cuba Press

More from Michael

Michael, I thought you were dead / Fitzsimons, Michael
“My favourite poet with a ponytail greets me warmly at the launch of his latest book of poems. Michael, he says, I thought you were dead. A pragmatic, intelligent, irreverent, and searching collection.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Maggie Rainey-Smith,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….Rachel McAlpine

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have the lovely Rachel McAlpine, who will be reading from her collection How to be old.

How to be old : poems / McAlpine, Rachel
“Wellington writer Rachel McAlpine blogs and podcasts about living and ageing and is celebrating her 80th birthday with a book of poems. How to Be Old is an explosion of humanity on the page with some practical tips from the author and sage advice from Elsie aged five.” (Catalogue)

About Rachel

Rachel says about her writing:

“Why do people hate and fear old age? Why is it so hard to see ourselves as belonging to the kingdom of old? Why does my own ageing seem overall a positive thing? What should I do with these age-related changes? What do other people think and feel and do? What am I for? How can I help?”

“Those questions puzzle me as I meander past my 80th year, and I explore them through poems, books, podcast and blog.”

Read more about Rachel, on her website writeintolife.com

More by Rachel

Scarlet heels : 26 stories about sex / McAlpine, Rachel
“Twenty-six women, young and old, talk about moments when sex (or abstaining from sex) changed their lives somehow, brirnging clarity, change, or love. Their stories happened decades ago or yesterday, in Alaska, California, England, Nigeria, Ascension Island or New Zealand – in a pulpit, garden, airport, cupboard, train or bed.” (Catalogue)

Templates / McAlpine, Rachel
“Touching insights into growing older. Six poems, six old photos of six little girls. A precious gift for contemplating life.” (Catalogue)

Tactics / McAlpine, Rachel
“Adorable poems with advice from a five-year-old life coach. Useful tips on breathing, voting, and killing zombies. A charming gift for anyone who interacts with children.” (Catalogue)

Another 100 New Zealand poems for children
“From computers and robots to moa and tuatara, from popcorn and mud pies to drought and howling wind, this sequel to 100 New Zealand Poems for Children speaks to New Zealand children today.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….. Richard Langston

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have Richard Langston, who will be reading from his collection Five o’clock shadows.

Five o’clock shadows / Langston, Richard
“Poems that return over and over to the land – an offering to the country of Richard’s bones and of his heart. From a longdrop that demands binoculars to Caberfeidh in the Catlins where his father picked plums from the passing train, Richard Langston writes poems that return over and over to the land. Born to a Lebanese immigrant family in Dunedin, and a Country Calendar director by trade, he is constantly refreshing his acquaintance with the country he calls home. Somehow writing it down seals the deal. ‘We make marks in ink,’ he says. ‘We are here.’ Poetry is incantation too, and Richard uses it to call family from the shadows and sing ancestors into being, a tentative offering to the country of his bones and of his heart.” (Publisher description)

About Richard

“Richard Langston is a veteran broadcasting journalist and director, who comes from Dunedin, and was a driving force in the city’s music scene in the 1980s. He lives in Wellington and is a proud member of the three-person South Wellington Poetry Society.”

From The Cuba Press website

More by Richard

The newspaper poems / Langston, Richard
“`Regard this as a bouquet to ink  this is Richard Langston’s paean to the world of newspaper to the world of newspaper reporting and reporters. To the gone age of the setting of metal type, the sound of a roomful of typewriters. To the past age of the afternoon city newspaper. This was the age of journalism before it went to university, the time of journalist as character.” (Catalogue)

The trouble lamp / Langston, Richard
“A collection of poems by Richard Langston some previously published.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Things lay in pieces / Langston, Richard
“Poet / Journalist Richard Langston’s fifth collection Things Lay in Pieces features 50 poems written about the Christchurch earthquake. These are poems of invention and witness that mix the everyday with the lyrical.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Rachel McAlpine, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….Mary McCallum

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have Mary McCallum who will be reading from her collection XYZ of happiness.

XYZ of happiness / McCallum, Mary
“These are poems of happiness… as it comes, when it’s missing and when it is hoped for. Pastel and glib or orange and high-vis, it is almost invisible in a chemical cocktail and strangely visible – but unreachable – in an equation etched into glass. It is a dog unleashed on the grass and a man going about measuring the Earth. It can be heard at the end chemotherapy and in a conversation in the kitchen while a boy drowns in the harbour outside. It wears a pink T-shirt, spins with sycamore seeds and spends a whole poem finding a yellow it can live with.” (Description from Mākaro Press)

About Mary

“Mary McCallum is a novelist, poet, songwriter and publisher. Her novel The Blue won two national book awards in 2007, she is the inaugural winner of the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize and her children’s novel Dappled Annie and the Tigrish won a Kirkus Star in the US. She founded Mākaro Press in 2013 and her band The Brooklyns plays around Wellington. She has three adult children and lives with her husband and his selection of yellow socks in Wellington and the Wairarapa.”

From Mākaro Press

More by Mary

The blue / McCallum, Mary
“Lilian lives in an isolated island community at the mouth of Tory Channel trying to make the best of a life that has at its core a secret grief. It is 1938 and for three months of every year the men take to the sea to hunt whales with fast boats and explosive harpoons. This year, the whales aren’t the only ones returning – Lilian’s troubled son Micky has come home too. In this rugged, unsettled world, things are not always what they seem.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dappled Annie and the Tigrish / McCallum, Mary
“A beautifully written novel about nature, siblings, bravery, and a touch of something magical. There are faces in the hedge at the end of the garden, and a nest of tiny fantails, and that’s where 9-year-old Annie goes to play one hot summer while her father works up at the lighthouse. One after another, an earthquake and a terrible wind leave Annie with losses that seem irreplaceable, and her little brother Robbie emerges as the only person who can help her find what she’s lost. Him and the tigrish.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Richard Langston, Rachel McAlpine, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….Simon and Oscar Sweetman

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up we have a very special double bill — Simon himself and his son Oscar Sweetman. Simon will be reading from his collection The Death of Music Journalismp, while Oscar will be making his poetry reading debut. Have a listen below, and enjoy!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights. Word got around and he was a sleeper hit at LitCrawl’s Lit-Sync For Your Life and the 2020 Variety for Fierys. Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date. A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

About Simon

“Simon Sweetman is a music journalist, short story writer and poet. He blogs at Off The Tracks. Simon was born in Hastings in 1976.”

From Simon’s profile on The Spinoff

You can find more of Simon’s music journalism over at offthetracks.co.nz

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy Simon and Oscar’s wonderful work as much as we have!

More books by Simon

OnSong : stories behind New Zealand’s pop classics / Sweetman, Simon
“On Song is a lively journey through New Zealand’s diverse pop landscape. Prolific music journalist Simon Sweetman has interviewed the writers and performers of beloved Kiwi classics, presenting ‘in conversation’ text that illuminates the fascinating stories behind the pop songs we all know and love, all complemented with a plethora of artists’ personal imagery and archival photography. A stunning portrait of modern New Zealand through music.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Mary McCallum, Richard Langston, Rachel McAlpine, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

Our Festive Panoply of  Poets….Sam Duckor-Jones

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up is the wonderful Sam Duckor-Jones who will be reading from his collection People from the pit stand up. Have a listen below, and enjoy!

People from the pit stand up / Duckor-Jones, Sam
“This is the voice of someone who is both at home and not at home in the world. Sam Duckor-Jones’s wonderfully fresh, funny, dishevelled poems are alive with art-making and fuelled by a hunger for intimacy. Giant clay men lurk in salons, the lawns of poets overgrow, petrolheads hoon along the beach, birds cry ‘wow-okay, wow-okay, wow-okay’.” (Catalogue)

About Sam

“Sam Duckor-Jones is a sculptor and poet who lives in Featherston. In 2017 he won the Biggs Poetry Prize from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. People from the Pit Stand Up is his first book.”

From VUP’s website

Find more of Sam’s work in…

Annual. 2
“Annual 2 contains all-new material for 9- to- 13-year-olds. The result is a highly original, contemporary take on the much-loved annuals of the past – all in one beautiful package. Alongside familiar names publishing for children – Gavin Mouldey, Sarah Johnson, Ben Galbraith, Barry Faville, Giselle Clarkson, and Gregory O’Brien – you’ll find the unexpected, including a new song by Bic Runga, a small-town mystery by Paul Thomas, and a classic New Zealand comic illustrated by new talent Henry Christian Slane. Smart and packed with content, a book for the whole family.” (Catalogue)

Short poems of New Zealand
“I’ve begun to think of short poems as being the literary equivalent of the small house movement. Small houses contain the same essential spaces as large houses do. Both have places in which to eat, sleep, bathe and sit; they’re the same, except small houses are, well, smaller. This anthology celebrates the many moods and forms of the short poem and demonstrates its power in holding our attention. Included here are famous names like Manhire, Glover, Hulme, Bethell, and Cochrane, amongst many new and rediscovered gems.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Mary McCallum, Richard Langston, Rachel McAlpine, Simon Sweetman, Oscar Sweetman, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A Festive Panoply of  Poets… a Reading from Janis Freegard

As a special seasonal treat we’ve joined with author and music critic Simon Sweetman to curate and present to you a festive panoply of poets reading their works for Wellingtonians — one a day until Christmas.

Next up is the wonderful Janis Freegard, reading a poem from her recently published collection Reading the signs. Have a listen below, and enjoy!

Book coverReading the signs / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in Janis Freegard’s new collection take their starting point from the poet’s daily ritual of reading the tea leaves while writing in the Ema Saiko room in the Wairarapa. This leads to unexpected discoveries about the world around her, from spider visitors to the writing room and a papyrus-fine gecko skin in the nearby wildlife sanctuary, to news of the ancient bdelloid rotifers that defy natural disasters and the recently extinct amphibians that did not. Then a gender- and species-fluid interpreter turns up to help the poet work her way through the daily revelations in her tea cup … Reading the Signs is a series of linked poems that are thoughtful and humorous, provocative and tender, and come together as a quiet epic about a planet that is fast running out of puff.” (Back cover)

About Janis

“Janis Freegard is a New Zealand writer of fiction and poetry. She was born in South Shields, England, and spent part of her childhood in South Africa and Australia before her family settled in New Zealand when she was 12. Her latest publication is a poetry collection, Reading the Signs (The Cuba Press, 2020). Her novel, The Year of Falling, was published by Makaro Press in 2015.”

Excerpted from Janis’s website

More from Janis

Kingdom Animalia : the escapades of Linnaeus / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in this first full collection from New Zealand’s Janis Freegard are categorized by Linnaean taxonomy: the six sections Mammalia, Aves, Amphibia, Pisces, Insecta, and Vermes are interspersed with a seven-part poem on the topic of Carolus Linneaus himself. Here Freegard catalogs the various fantastic and artistic, anthropomorphic and objective, rational and self-serving ways that humans draw on the animal world: as symbol and allegory, food and friend, ravening enemy, and sacred icon. From surreal prose poems to gorgeous lists–featuring a stuffed Maori dog, murderous magpies, and cake-shop cockroaches–Freegard’s verse reflects the diversity of the animal kingdom and its light-hearted fancifulness belies a strong commitment to conservation.” (Catalogue)

The glass rooster / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in The Glass Rooster explore the spaces inhabited by humans and other creatures–from natural ecosystems to cities and even to outer space. Our guide on this journey is a glass rooster–observer of stars and lover of hens–who first popped up in Janis Freegard’s poetry years ago and wanders unchecked through the book. Each of the eight sections (or “echo-systems”) in the book–the Damp Places, Forest, Cityscape, the Alpine Zone, Space, Home & Garden, Underground, and In the Desert–is introduced by a triolet: a French poetic form with repeated lines. Other poems are arranged in pairs, each echoing something about the other, whether desert plants, the presence of balloons, or the dangers of working in a mine. The result is a tremendous, riotous exploration of an interconnected world.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The year of falling / Freegard, Janis
“When the porcelain dolls start turning up on Selina’s doorstep, she knows it’s a bad sign. Shortly afterwards she embarks on an ill-judged affair with a celebrity TV chef. Both events, and the lies an untold truths at their heart, precipitate a spectacular fall from grace for high-flying graphic artist, Selina.” (Catalogue)

Still to come…

Still to come are readings from Mary McCallum, Richard Langston, Sam Duckor-Jones, Rachel McAlpine, Simon Sweetman, Oscar Sweetman, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Michael Fitzsimons,  and Ruby Solly.

We’ll be posting up the latest in the series of poems every day until Christmas on the Library homepage and on our blog here, so keep an eye out!

Read all Festive Panoply posts

We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to Simon Sweetman for curating these daily poems, and to the lovely people at Book Haven for allowing us to record in their bookshop. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

The death of music journalism / Sweetman, Simon
“Simon’s been writing poems since he was first listening to bands on his Walkman, but then he started sharing them via social media and open mic nights.  Marking a pivot from the razor-sharp and sometimes controversial music writing he is best known for, Simon’s collection is as wide-ranging as his career to date.  A natural storyteller whose poetry is filled with characters both famous and ordinary, this eagerly awaited collection is unpredictable, anarchic, playful and surprisingly heartfelt.” (Adapted from Catalogue)