Author Interview: Poet, novelist & short story writer Maggie Rainey-Smith

Amongst many other things Maggie Rainey-Smith is a poet, novelist, and short story writer. And just recently Maggie released her latest collection of poetry called Formica.

Formica is an honest and humorous collection of poems written in an unsentimental fashion that both speaks of Maggie herself and her individual history but also the wider issues that envelope individual lives. The poems in the collection are rooted in the 1950s, avoiding the pitfalls of nostalgia, the poems instead give the reader a more precise and unsentimental look at life.

The collection moves from youth to warrior crone and also pays homage to love in its various forms.

Maggie uses as her raw material the lives of all women of her generation –  “lives too often defined by their fertility and kitchen appliances when there was fun and fulfilment to be had elsewhere. Not that Maggie doesn’t adore her Kenwood mixer, but it lines up with abiding friendships, granddaughters, travel, sex and the joy of words.”

She is a remarkable talent and when the opportunity to interview her about Formica arose, we leapt at it. This interview with  was done in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM and was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Maggie took time out from her very busy schedule to talk to us about Formica, her life, and her writing career. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks.

Content warning: interview includes adult themes

Maggie’s books are available to borrow from the library.

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.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Turbulence / Rainey-Smith, Maggie
“Adam is fortyish, coasting along and relatively content while his glamorous partner, Louise, takes centre stage. But half a lifetime ago, his aspirations were higher and he was certain about the future he’d share with Judy. When an unexpected invitation arrives, uncomfortable truths resurface and the secrets of the past spill out. How will Adam manage to attend a reunion in the company of both Louise and Judy – not to mention stepfatherhood and a state of siege at work? ” (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)

Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020


We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

______________________________
20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
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And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.



Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard


New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.


Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.


South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.


Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.

New eBooks – Poetry and Prose

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be missing the ‘new books’ displays in our libraries, and the feeling of picking up a glossy new title and deciding to take it home. While eBooks don’t provide that amazing new-book-smell, we’re still excited to introduce you to fresh content and help you find your next great read.

These literary picks cover a range of formats: poetry, author biographies, journalism, and even comics. Get amongst, pick something you like, and read it wherever you happen to be today.

Overdrive cover The Literature Book, DK (Audiobook)
Exploring more than 100 of the world’s most important literary works and the literary geniuses that created them, this book is the perfect introduction to the subject of literature and writing. The audiobook also offers a deeper look into the famed fiction of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and more, as in-depth literary criticism and interesting authorial biographies give each work of literature a new meaning. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Little History of Poetry, John Carey (ebook)
John Carey tells the stories behind the world’s greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem “great” in the first place. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Recollections of My Non-Existence, Rebecca Solnit (Audiobook)
In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Unfinished Business, Vivian Gornick (ebook)
In nine stunning essays, the inimitable Vivian Gornick returns to the books that have shaped her. From a reporter in 1970s New York, to a feminist negotiating love and independence, to a writer in the jubilant sanctity of older age: Gornick’s life is compelling, and in the characters of literature she finds versions of herself through the years, each time she opens the page. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Spinoff Book, Toby Manhire (ebook)
Five years ago, The Spinoff burst onto New Zealand’s media scene with smart, screamingly funny and seriously relevant writing. Since then, it has enraged and inspired, respectably won Website of the Year at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards, and expanded into television, podcasts and now – shockingly – a book. Edited by Toby Manhire, it’s jam-packed with The Spinoff’s best work, along with artwork by Toby Morris, photography, collage, poetry and a clutch of new and exclusive essays. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Monster, She Wrote, Lisa Kröger (ebook)
From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Long Story Short, Lisa Brown (ebook)
Long Story Short offers 100 pithy and skewering three-panel literary summaries, from curriculum classics like Don Quixote, Lord of the Flies, and Jane Eyre to modern favorites like Beloved and Atonement. Lisa Brown’s Long Story Short is the perfect way to turn a traipse through what your English teacher called “the canon” into a frolic—or to happily cram for the next occasion that requires you to appear bookish and well-read. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Storyville!, John Dufresne (ebook)
Whether you are daunted by a blinking cursor or frustrated trying to get the people in your head onto the page, writing stories can be intimidating. A do-it-yourself manual for the apprentice fiction writer, Storyville! demystifies that process; its bold graphics take you inside the writer’s comfortingly chaotic mind and show you how stories are made. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong (ebook)
Steeped in war and cultural upheaval and wielding a fresh new language, Vuong writes about the most profound subjects – love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire – and attends to them all with lines that feel newly-minted, graceful in their cadences, passionate and hungry in their tender, close attention. This is an unusual, important book… its blend of humanity and power make it one of the best first collections of poetry to come out of America in years. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Reading the NZ Book Awards Longlist: Poetry

The 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards’ longlist is here! Among the forty titles are ten works of poetry, all vying for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry (won last year by Helen Heath with Are Friends Electric?).

This year’s list has a range of fantastic titles from both well-known names and emerging writers. The shortlist will be announced on March 4, so you’ve still got time to read them all, and we’ve included links to reviews so you can see how they’ve been received by critics. Who do you think should make the shortlist?

Under Glass / Kan, Gregory
“A colossal jungle. Two suns. The sea on fire. Under Glass is an ambitious new collection by one of the most exciting young poets writing today. Gregory Kan’s second book is a dialogue between a series of prose poems, following a protagonist through a mysterious and threatening landscape, and a series of verse poems, driven by the speaker’s compulsive hunger to make sense of things. This is a collection full of maps and trapdoors, labyrinths and fragmented traces.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of Gregory Kan’s Under Glass here.

Moth Hour / Kennedy, Anne
“In 1973, Anne Kennedy’s brother Philip was partying on a hillside when he accidentally fell to his death. Among books and records, Philip left a poem typed in Courier on thick, cream, letter-sized paper. Come catch me little child And put me in a jar . . . In Moth Hour, Anne Kennedy returns to the death of her brother and the world he inhabited. She grapples with the rebellious world of her brother and his friends in the 1970s; with grief and loss; with the arch of time.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of Anne Kennedy’s Moth Hour here.

ransack / ranapiri, essa may
“In ransack, essa may ranapiri addresses the difficulty of assembling and understanding a fractured, unwieldy self through an inherited language – a language whose assumptions and expectations make it inadequate for such a task. These poems seek richer, less hierarchical sets of words to describe ways of being. This immersive collection is about discovering, articulating, and defending – to oneself and to others – what it means to exist outside of the western gender binary, as takatapui.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of essa may ranapiri’s ransack here.

How to Live / Rickerby, Helen
“A new poetry collection that takes readers among ‘the unsilent women’, from Hipparchia to J. K. Rowling. ‘Women who speak have always been monstrous. That twisty sphinx, those tempting sirens; better plug your ears with wax, boys.’ Where are the female philosophers? Why are women silenced? Who can tell us how to live? In her fourth collection of poetry, Helen Rickerby takes readers on a journey into women’s writing, a quest for philosophical answers, and an investigation of poetic form.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of Helen Rickerby’s How to Live here.

Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean / Wilson, Sugar Magnolia
“This is a first collection from a significant new voice in New Zealand poetry. Through fun and gore, love and monsters, Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s riveting first collection takes readers inside a world where past and present, fiction and fact, author and subject collide. Playful and yet not so sunny, these poems invite you in with extravagant and surprising imagery, only to reveal the uneasy, Frankenstein world within.” (Catalogue)

Read a review of Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean here.

How I Get Ready / Young, Ashleigh
“In her new poetry collection How I Get Ready, Ashleigh Young fails to learn to drive, vanishes from the fossil record, and finally finishes writing a book.” (Catalogue)

Read a review of Ashleigh Young’s How I Get Ready here.

Craven / Arthur, Jane
“Craven is an exceptional debut: Jane Arthur delights, unnerves and challenges in poems that circle both the everyday and the ineffable – piano practice, past lives, being forced onto dancefloors. This is a smart and disarming collection that traces the ever-changing forms of light and dark in our lives, and how our eyes adjust, despite ourselves, as we go along.” (Catalogue)

Listen to a review of Jane Arthur’s Craven here.

Back Before You Know / Edmond, Murray

Read a review of Murray Edmond’s Back Before You Know here.

Listening In / Edmeades, Lynley
“In this original second collection, Lynley Edmeades turns her attention to ideas of sound, listening and speech. Listening In is full of the verbal play and linguistic experimentation that characterised her first collection, but it also shows the poet pushing the form into new territories. Her poems show, often sardonically, how language can be undermined: linguistic registers are rife with uncertainties, ambiguities and accidental comedy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of Lynley Edmeades’ Listening In here.

Lay Studies / Toussaint, Steven
“In Lay Studies, Steven Toussaint conducts an impressive range of lyric inventions, pitching his poems to that precarious interval between love and rage. With great skill and compassion, he depicts scenes of domestic life in his adopted home of New Zealand, a transient year of religious and artistic soul-searching in the United Kingdom, and a growing sense of dislocation from his native United States in the Trump era.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Read a review of Steven Toussaint’s Lay Studies here.

Literary memoirs – new stories through essays and poetry

Our latest picks bring together a huge range of authors; some who are new to the game as well as some award-winning writers. Their stories bind together to show what it means to face adversity with resilience. These books, all of which are accessible digitally, bring humour and honesty, as well as an appreciation of what it means to share our stories.

Overdrive cover Common People, Kit de Waal (ebook)
Common People is a collection of essays, poems and memoir written in celebration, not apology: these are narratives rich in barbed humour, reflecting the depth and texture of working-class life, the joy and sorrow, the solidarity and the differences.. Here, Kit de Waal brings together thirty-three established and emerging writers who invite you to experience the world through their eyes(Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde (ebook)
Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. “This was my first time reading Audre Lorde (finally!) and now I can’t wait to devour everything she ever wrote. This was the kind of book that you end up highlighting so many great quotes, words you want to memorize, apply, breathe. Empowering read.” — Litsy
(Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee (ebook)
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots a decade of her life in New York City… Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Certain Loneliness, Sandra Gail Lambert (ebook)
After contracting polio as a child, Sandra Gail Lambert progressed from braces and crutches to a manual wheelchair to a power wheelchair—but loneliness has remained a constant, from the wild claustrophobia of a child in body casts to just yesterday, trapped at home, gasping from pain. A Certain Loneliness is a meditative and engaging memoir-in-essays that explores the intersection of disability, queerness, and female desire with frankness and humor.  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery (ebook)
An urgent and unforgettable collection of stories, Show Them a Good Time explores types – men and women, their assigned roles and meanings – in modern society. The characters in these magnificently accomplished stories are haunted as much by the future as they are by their pasts. Exuberant, irreverent and loaded with dark humour, Show Them a Good Time marks the arrival of a strikingly original new Irish voice in fiction. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr (ebook)
Stories mould who we are, from our character to our cultural identity. In this scalpel-sharp, thought-provoking book, Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us… Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories – and make sense of our chaotic modern world. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, Michele Filgate (ebook)
Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse. While some of the writers in this book are estranged from their mothers, others are extremely close. André Aciman writes about what it was like to have a deaf mother. Melissa Febos uses mythology as a lens to look at her close-knit relationship with her psychotherapist mother. And Julianna Baggott talks about having a mom who tells her everything. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover White, Bret Easton Ellis (ebook)
Bret Easton Ellis has wrestled with the double-edged sword of fame and notoriety for more than thirty years now, since Less Than Zero catapulted him into the limelight in 1985, earning him devoted fans and, perhaps, even fiercer enemies. He encounters various positions and voices controversial opinions, more often than not fighting the status quo. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault, Cathy Guisewite (ebook)
From the creator of the iconic “Cathy” comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls “the panini generation.” Now Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth with this debut essay collection about another time of big transition, when everything starts changing and disappearing without permission: aging parents, aging children, aging self stuck in the middle. (Overdrive description)

Read before you crawl… a Poetry Showcase

If poetry is your thing then get ready to be excited for this year’s line up because poets are out in numbers! Mark your calendars for November 10th and start planning your crawl! For lovers of prose make sure you check out the LitCrawl Extended Programme as well, the Poetry Showcase is a must see! With so many poets, musicians and wordsmiths to chose from, here are our selections for must reads before the crawl!

Poūkahangatus / Tibble, Tayi
“This collection speaks about beauty, activism, power and popular culture with compelling guile, a darkness, a deep understanding and sensuality. It dives through noir, whakamā and kitsch and emerges dripping with colour and liquor. These poems time-travel through the powdery mint-green 1960s and the polaroid sunshine 1970’s to the present day. Their language and forms are liquid-sometimes as lush as what they describe, other times deliberately biblical or oblique.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

There’s no place like the internet in springtime / Kennedy, Erik
“Layering comedy over insight and pathos over comedy, mixing its flexible couplets with beautifully spiky free verse, Erik Kennedy’s first collection should climb up all the right charts: his phrases can go anywhere, then come back, and he has figured out how to sound both trustworthy and nonplussed, giddy and humble, in the same breath. Sometimes he impersonates spiny lobsters; sometimes he’s a socialist chambered nautilus. Sometimes he’s our best guide to the globe-trotting ridiculous.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

Are friends electric? / Heath, Helen
“Offering a vivid and moving vision of a past, present and future mediated by technology, the first part of thisbold new collection is comprised largely of found poems which emerge from conversations about sex bots, people who feel an intimate love for bridges, fences and buildings, a meditation on Theo Jansens beautifully strange animal sculptures, and the lives of birds in cities. A series of speculative poems further explores questions of how we incorporate technology into our lives and bodies.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

The farewell tourist / Glenny, Alison
“Pushing the boundaries of what poetry might be The Farewell Tourist is haunting, many-layered and slightly surreal. In The Magnetic Process sequence a man and a woman inhabit a polar world, adrift in zones of divergence, where dreams are filled with snow, icebergs, and sinking ships. Their scientific instruments and observations measure a fragmented and uncertain space where conventional perspectives are violated. By turns mysterious, ominous and evocative, they represent connections to an obscured narrative of disintegration and icy melancholy.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

The ski flier / McMillan, Maria
“As it traverses various landscapes, The Ski Flier also moves through a world where strength and self doubt exist in the same moment. Maria McMillan’s vivid second full poetry collection takes in mountains and cities, dragons and daughters, hope and wish fulfilment, demolition and renewal. With shining intelligence these poems demand that we pay attention to where we have been and where we are now.” (Victoria University Press Summary)

he’s so MASC / Tse, Chris
He’s So MASC confronts a contemporary world of self-loathing poets and compulsive liars, of youth and sexual identity, and of the author as character–pop star, actor, hitman, and much more. These are poems that delve into worlds of hyper-masculine romanticism and dancing alone in night clubs. With it’s many modes and influences, an acerbic, acid-bright, yet unapologetically sentimental and personal reflection on what it means to perform and dissect identity, as a poet and a person.” (Adapted Sydnetics Summary)

Alzheimer’s and a spoon / Breslin, Liz
This collection takes its readers on a tangled trip. Public stories – a conversation at the Castle of the Insane, on-line quizzes to determine if you are mostly meercat or Hufflepuff. #stainlessteelkudos. Personal tales, of Liz’s babcia, a devout Catholic and a soldier in the Warsaw Uprising, who spent her last years with Alzheimer’s disease. There is much to remember that she so badly wanted to forget. What do you do when life gives you spoons? (Amazon Summary)

The facts / Lloyd, Therese
“Guided by the work of Anna Carson, these poems trace the end of a marriage, a toxic love affair, age and aging, and the deeper question of spiritual meaning. Running throughout is Therese Lloyd’s quest to prove that art is essential to life.” (Adapted Syndetics Summary)

XYZ of happiness / McCallum, Mary
“Poems of happiness… as it comes, when it’s missing and when it is hoped for.” –Back cover.” (Syndetics Summary)

It’s National Poetry Day!

It’s National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event is happening today at 1pm! See below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s fantastic featured poet is Janis Freegard. Enjoy, and we hope to see you in the library this afternoon!

Honey

It was manuka honey, the best kind
in a big, white plastic bucket, given to you
by someone with bees, because you’d been helpful,
so much honey, it might last a lifetime
and you being you, and maybe why I love you,
you spooned it out into carefully washed jars
for your uncle, your mother, your brothers,
our friend with the little boy, your mother’s neighbour
who had the birthday, all that honey, and after all
that you gave away, there was still so much left for us.

Janis Freegard

 

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

Janis Freegard poem

1 day until National Poetry Day: Keith Westwater

National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event are happening tomorrow! See below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s fantastic featured poet is Keith Westwater.

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

Keith Westwater poem

2 days until National Poetry Day: Helen Rickerby

There are two days to go until National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event – see below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s featured poet is Helen Rickerby – enjoy!

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

Helen Rickerby poem

3 days until National Poetry Day: Peter Rawnsley

There are three days to go until National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event – see below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s wonderful featured poet is Peter Rawnsley.

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

Peter Rawnsley poem

4 days until National Poetry Day: Mary McCallum

There are four days to go until National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event – see below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s featured poet is Mary McCallum – enjoy!

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

5 days until National Poetry Day: Stefanie Lash

There are five days to go until National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event – see below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s featured poet is Stefanie Lash- enjoy!

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

6 days until National Poetry Day: Tim Jones

There are six days to go until National Poetry Day and our exciting poetry event – see below for the event details, and you can find more information on our blog.
Today’s fantastic featured poet is Tim Jones.

Details:

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm
Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

You can RSVP to this event on Facebook

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Featuring:
Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

Counting down to National Poetry Day…

It’s National Poetry Day on the 24th of August, and we’ll be staging a very special celebration featuring some of our finest poets reading from their works.

Come along to hear poets from Mākaro Press, Fitzbeck Books and The Cuba Press bewitch, berate, busk and bewilder!

Details:

National Poetry Day

Friday 24 August, 1–3.30pm

Central Library, 65 Victoria Street

Featuring:

Mary Cresswell, Nicola Easthope, Jamie Trower, Janis Freegard, Tim Jones, John Boyd, Rob King, Richard Langston, Mary Mccallum, Anne Powell, John Howell, Peter Rawnsley, and Stefanie Lash.

To build up to this wonderful celebration of poetry we are going to feature a short poem from a few of the poets reading. Today’s wonderful poet is Mary Cresswell — enjoy!

Ka nui te ranea o ngā pukapuka hou. An abundance of new books.

Being Together in Place

Ngā mihi o te ngahuru. We have an abundant and varied collection of new books for you in this whakairinga rangitaki (blog post) and there is something for everyone – from social comment to health, from poetry to history. Highlights include Urban Māori: The Second Great Migration which is a timely exploration of the twentieth century Māori migration from rural communities to cities and its impact on Māori identity, and The Moon on my Tongue a wonderful anthology of Māori poetry in English.

Syndetics book coverPou o ue / Cyrus Gregory Tauahika Hingston.
Pou o Ue is the companion book to Cyrus Hingston’s earlier Pou o Whakaue: Marae of Whakaue.  This new volume “…is a history of six marae of Rotorua: the tupuna, the whenua, the whare, the hau kainga, and their memories of the marae, the relationships to the tupuna Uenukukopako (Ue) and Te Arawa whanui.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUrban Māori : the second great migration / Bradford Haami for Te Whānau o Waipareira.
“The post-1945 migration to the cities by Māori transformed Aotearoa New Zealand forever. Exploring what being Māori means today, author Bradford Haami looks back to the experience of the first migrants, and traces the development of an urban Maori identity over the interceding years. Photos and personal korero intersperse a very readable text.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moon on my tongue : an anthology of Māori poetry in English / edited by Reina Whaitiri, Robert Sullivan and Ben Styles.
“From both revered, established writers and exciting contemporary poets, the work in this anthology offers a broad picture of Māori poetry written in English. There are laments for koro (elders), hopes for mokopuna (grandchildren); celebrations of the land and anger at its abuse; retellings of myth and reclamations of history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTātai whetū : seven Māori women poets in translation / edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis.This is the fourth volume in the Seraph Press Translation Series and is a beautiful little book that celebrates Māori writing and the Māori language. The featured poets include Anahera Gildea,  Kiri Piahana-Wong, Maraea Rakuraku, and Alice Te Punga Somerville. This bilingual collection features a poem each by seven Māori women writers, originally written in English, and a translation in the Māori language.

Syndetics book coverMaea te toi ora : Māori health transformations / Te Kani Kingi, Mason Durie, Hinemoa Elder, Rees Tapsell, Mark Lawrence, Simon Bennett.
“The six contributing authors in the collection include Simon Bennett, Mason Durie, and Rees Tapsell and are all well known in the mental health field. Each discusses aspects of Maori and indigenous health and the importance of culture to diagnosis, patient history, understanding causes, treatment and assessment of outcomes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeing together in place : indigenous coexistence in a more than human world / Soren C. Larsen and Jay T. Johnson ; foreword by Daniel R. Wildcat.
Being Together in Place highlights the challenging, tentative, and provisional work of coexistence between Native and Non-Native peoples in relation to contested spaces such as wetlands, treaty grounds, fishing spots, recreation areas, cemeteries, heritage trails, and traditional village sites.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand Wars / Philippa Werry.
“Describing the origins of the wars, where and when they were fought, who was involved, and who they affected, this book also examines war memorials, the work of the Waitangi Tribunal, how the wars have featured in New Zealand arts and how they are remembered today. The story is accessible and full of fascinating detail, eye-witness accounts, illustrations and little known facts, with lists of websites, resources and books for those who want to discover more.” (Adapted from the publisher description)

Syndetics book coverTe Ao Hou : the new world, 1820-1920 / Judith Binney with Vincent O’Malley and Alan Ward.
Te Ao Hou explores the history of Maori and Pakeha from about 1830. As the new world unfolded, Maori independence was hotly contested; Maori held as tightly as they could to their authority over the land, while the Crown sought to loosen it. War broke out and for Maori the consequences were devastating, and the recovery was long, framed by poverty, population decline and the economic depression of the late nineteenth century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe Ao Hurihuri : the changing world, 1920-2014 / Aroha Harris with Melissa Matutina Williams.
Te Ao Hurihuri shows Maori engaged in building and rebuilding their communities through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Maori held fiercely to iwi-specific connectedness, community organisation and te reo me ona tikanga. New kinds of Maori institutions released the dynamism of tangata whenua, but the struggle continued against a background of social and economic hardship that burdens so many Maori lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Join us for the launch of Homeless: Poems by John Howell

It is with much pleasure that Wellington City Libraries will be hosting the launch of Homeless, poems by John Howell on Tuesday 10th October at 5pm in the Central Library, Victoria Street. John is graciously donating all profits from the sales of this publication to Te Hāpai, DCM.
The Nota Bene choir and musicians from the DCM will be performing.
Homeless has been published by Mākaro Press and can be borrowed from Wellington City Libraries, or purchased online at www.makaropress.co.nz or by email from makaropress@gmail.com.

An interview with John and more information about the event can be read via the Dominion Post online. We do hope you can join us for this exciting event.

Homeless book launch

Wellington author spotlight: Geoff Cochrane

Author image by Grant Maiden

A city’s image is always complex, and Wellington is no exception. For over 150 years it’s had to contend with being a capital city; being in the middle of the country; being on unstable ground. From these complexities an identity has emerged, what Lonely Planet described as “a little city with a big rep”. But beside this identity is another, more marginal Wellington, and one writer has been described as the “keeper of its keys”: Geoff Cochrane.

Public Relations

My barista asks me where he can find my books, and
I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista
thinks I’m a great bloke, currently, and I don’t want him
reading my books and changing his mind.

Cochrane has lived in Wellington for most of his life. While he started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until Victoria University Press released Aztec Noon: Poems 1976-1992 that he first found a home at a mainstream publisher. He has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry and a 2014 Laureate Award, as well as regular appearances in Best New Zealand Poems.

Despite these accolades, Cochrane’s work continues to evoke Wellington’s physical–and literary–boundaries. His latest poetry collection, RedEdits, takes the reader to the Warehouse in Rongotai, to A&E, to his barista. It reveals the butt of his cigarettes, a drop of his blood, a verandah in Levin.

Points of Interest

Sand and water make up 99% of fracking fluid.
Winston Churchill did without a close male friend.
Nembutal is the trade name of sodium pentobarbital.
Michelangelo completed his Pietà at the age of 25.

(According to Martin Amis, wars get old.
Get grizzled and smelly and rotten and mad,
and the bigger they are the faster they age.)

Cochrane’s writing has been called “one of the great pleasures” of New Zealand literature. Writer Pip Adam has described it as “a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows ourselves in new ways.” To discover this proof for yourself, check out RedEdits at Wellington City Libraries.

 

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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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