Counting blessings @JohnJCampbell @CampbellLiveNZ


Running (again) into the beauty of Bethell’s this morning and instead of the zen-like empty head breathing in and out, or the line for a poem or a picture-book story flicking though, I began to count blessings. It has been a punch in the gut of many to axe (that brutal word) Campbell Live. And now a flurry of why this is so on social media and other places. I felt like I was running into a pocket of grief. A word that crops up in tweets, blogs and articles is John’s humanness. His ability to care. To take a stand. He is a good person and in this age of greed, violence and hunger we need good people. He shows us  … us. The little stories, the big stories. The famous people, the Joe Greens. Yes, I should be at my desk starting work on this fabulous new project I have invented, but today I feel stalled by grief at the implications of this loss.

The balm. To count sidetracking blessings as I ran into the wild beauty pitch of the West Coast.

1. National Radio and all its presenters, reporters. Thank heavens for Morning Report. For Guyon and Suzie. For the astute and searching mind of Kathryn Ryan, her humanness and that warmth. For Lynn Freeman for drawing us into our wider arts, so beautifully.

2. To courageous blogs such as Public Address. Thank you Russell Brown.

3.  To The Listener (thank you Jane Clifton) and Metro for showcasing New Zealand books and issues.

4. For The Herald for publishing incisive commentary. Thank you Toby Manhire (see Toby on John Campbell here).

5. For New Zealand publishers publishing New Zealand books against all odds. Thank you.

6. For New Zealand booksellers selling New Zealand books against all odds. Thank you.

7. For Anne O’Brien and her team creating an astonishing literary festival in Auckland that celebrated us here and now as much as the wider world. Thank you.

8. For everyone who has the courage to stand and make a difference in both a world and a ‘here’ that is damaged by greed, hunger, violence. To what extent are our decisions always motivated by the good of ourselves as opposed to the good of the whole?

Campbell Live, in whatever measure we care to assign, acted as a conscience of society — a role universities once exemplified in their ability to critique the ideologies, the customs, the structures, the laws, the expectations, the narratives and the images that both sustain and constrain us.

Thank you John Campbell. Heck, that moment when you came out to introduce Carol Ann Duffy, and there was this extraordinary lingering applause, with whoops and heartfelt cries, gave us goosebumps. Even then we were on the verge of tears. That is us now. In that auditorium, giving the whoops and the claps. But now it is a standing ovation. Cheers, John.


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