Monthly Archives: June 2015

Congratulations to Flash Fiction Day winners

Congratulations to Frankie McMillan of Christchurch

and Leanne Radojkovich of Auckland

who took top honours in this year’s competition!

And to all Highly Commended writers and

Regional Prize winners, too, posted on

the NFFD Winners page, along with judges’ comments.

All sixteen long-listed stories from this year’s competition will be published in a special winter edition of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction.


Special thanks to Owen Marshall and Fiona Kidman for so generously sharing their time and wisdom.

Thanks to the NZ Society of Authors branches who support the Regional Awards. A great deal of individual effort has gone into organising the gifts and awards that the branches donate, and it’s thanks to branch chairs and members that this part of NFFD is a growing success.
Thanks to Designlab in Auckland for our logo and banner images. We’re handsome and shiny because of you!

Thanks to the bookshops around NZ who support our efforts — Jason Books in AucklandUnity Books in Wellington, University Bookshop in Dunedinand Scorpio Books in Christchurch.

And thanks, finally but hugely, to our event organisers, volunteers, proxy readers and MCs — NFFD would be nothing without you! Here’s to this year’s success, and to you!

Margaret Cahill

Maryrose Doull 

James George

Eileen Merriman

Nod Ghosh

Trisha Hanifin

Tim Heath

Katherine Honeyman

Brindi Joy

Graeme Lay

James Norcliffe

Catherine Robertson

Morrin Rout

Owen Scott

Rebecca Styles

Sian Williams

Ana Worner

Morgan Bach’s launch at Wellington’s award-winning Unity Books -Would love to be there for this! Can’t wait to read it


Victoria University Press warmly invites to the launch of

Some of Us Eat the Seeds
by Morgan Bach

6pm–7.30pm on Thursday 16 July
at Unity Books, 57 Willis St, Wellington.

About Some of Us Eat the Seeds:
Morgan Bach weaves a line between waking life and the unstable dreamworld beneath, disorienting and reorienting us from moment to moment. In poems of childhood, family, travel and relationships, she responds to the ache and sometimes horror of life in a voice that is restless and witty, bold and sharp-edged.

‘It’s ordinary and extraordinary. It’s the kind of arrival that delights me.’ – Bernadette Hall

Simon Armitage wins Oxford Professor of Poetry election

from The Guardian

Popular British poet selected for prestigious post ahead of strong field including Wole Soyinka

Simon Armitage: keen to discuss ‘poetry’s relationship with the civilian world’.
Simon Armitage: keen to discuss ‘poetry’s relationship with the civilian world’. Photograph: Gareth Phillips for the Guardian

The British poet Simon Armitage has seen off an international field to be chosen as Oxford’s latest professor of poetry.

Speaking to the Guardian after the announcement, Armitage said he was “delighted and very excited and suitably daunted as well”.

“It’s been such a long process,” he said. “In the time it’s taken we’ve had a general election, Sepp Blatter has come and gone and come again, and we’ve nearly got a new leader of the Labour party.”

He said he would try to give students an insight into “what is occasionally quite a muddy world, and a muddy art form, remembering that the audience are primarily students, and not to see it as a platform for professorial grandstanding”.

“For me, it’s a chance to say something a little bit more contemporary,” he said. “Often it’s been professors talking about previous generations. I feel as if I’d like to bring thing up to date. To look at poetry today, in dialogue with the poetry of the past.”

The award-winning author of more than 12 collections of poetry, Armitage has been hailed by fellow poet Sean O’Brien as “the first poet of serious artistic intent since Philip Larkin to have achieved popularity”. Combining linguistic inventiveness, streetwise flair and contemporary subjects, he has reached an audience far beyond the literary ghetto with poems, novels, translations of medieval verse and scripts for radio and television.

The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, welcomed the announcement, calling Armitage “a fine, vocational poet and a brilliant communicator for the modern age who never forgets the roots and ancestry of poetry”.

for more see here

Book Trade Awards: Poetry books need great booksellers – Wonderful to see the Parsons Family honoured

I am delighted to see the Parsons Family honoured at these awards. The Auckland store under the guidance of Helen used to stock the best selection of NZ poetry in a room devoted entirely to NZ books. Bravo Roger and Helen, booksellers extraordinaire.

Book Trade Industry Awards

A renowned family of booksellers were honoured with a lifetime achievement award tonight at the annual Book Industry awards in Auckland, while individual publishers and booksellers were recognised as being the best in the New Zealand  trade.
This year the award was presented to the Parsons Family of Auckland and Wellington for the inter-generational contribution the family have made to the industry.
All of the winners of the Book Trade Industry Awards this year have been applauded by the judges for their dedication to quality – whether in publication, selling, or running events – and passion for the trade. There were six awards given, and for the first time this year, applicants were invited to self-nominate. This allowed some smaller bookstores who didn’t frequently see publishing reps to highlight their own efforts to improve sales for their stores. There was a large number of nominees in this category, making the prize even more desirable.
The judges of the awards were Karen Ferns, Jill Rawnsley, Carolyn Morgan, Graham Beattie and Karren Beanland.
The winners of each category are announced below:
2015 Young Book Retailer of the Year: 
Jenna Todd, Time Out Books, Mt Eden
‘Jenna manages the shop, which had its best ever sales in 2014, in an exemplary manner. Not only does she run their media & social media effectively, the customer testimonials for her work were outstanding,’ said judge Karen Ferns.
2015 Sales Rep of the Year: 
Tammy Ruffell, HarperCollins NZ Lower North Island rep
‘Tammy is tireless in seeking ways to inspire customers, and has shown great leadership and resilience in facing head-on, with those customers, the challenges of the past year (or few),’ said judge Jill Rawnsley.
Marketing Strategy of the Year: 
Penguin Random House NZ, for Chelsea Winter’s Everyday Delicious
‘The winning marketing strategy for 2015 saw an impressive result for the publisher and Chelsea Winter, the author, whose input into the campaign is every bit as contributory to the results. It is a competitive area of publishing, but the team at PRH pulled it off beautifully,’ said Rawnsley.
NZ Book Industry Special Award: 
Bridget Williams Books
‘Bridget Williams Books wins this for their innovative list, and how effectively they have embraced the new digital age. They have proven their commitment to quality non-fiction publishing, publishing the important Tangata Whenua, while launching their new imprint BWB Texts over 2014,’ said Morgan.
Publisher of the Year: 
Potton and Burton Publishers, newly renamed from Craig Potton Publishers
‘Potton and Burton show exceptional commitment to quality in its publishing programme, its production values, its relationships with customers and authors alike, and in the delivery of an essential distribution service. As well as this, the company’s dedication to New Zealand stories shines through in their regularly award-winning books,’ said Rawnsley.
Bookseller of the Year: 
Unity Books, Wellington
‘Unity Books runs 50 events per year, and their support of NZ publishing accounts for 18% of their sales. Unity has proven over the years a great training place for aspiring booksellers. Overall, they win this award for their general excellence, and the special place they occupy in the community,’ said Morgan.
The Book industry is well-served by the passionate booksellers and publishers that are continuing to inspire in a changing environment. The Book Industry Awards are sponsored by PANZ, Nielsen Book and Booksellers NZ, and were administered via Booksellers NZ, by the Book Trade Liasion Committee.

Hearty congratulations to poet Hinemoana Baker — winner of the Berlin Writer’s Residency 2015

Hinemoana Baker

Photo credit: Robert Cross

The 2015-16 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency has been awarded to Wellington-based writer, Hinemoana Baker (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa).

The residency allows an established writer to work on an approved project for up to eleven months in Berlin, Germany and covers travel to and accommodation in Berlin, a monthly stipend and incidentals.

Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright says, “Along with dedicated space and time to devote to an approved project, this residency has enabled some of our finest writers to experience the culture of this inspirational city and develop their work in a new environment. A further benefit is that it helps build awareness of New Zealand literature in Berlin.”

Ms Baker will work on a new collection of poetry during her time in Berlin and attend poetry events in Poland and Belarus.

She says, “My mother’s ancestors arrived in New Zealand on the St Pauli from Oberammergau, Bavaria via Hamburg. Living in Germany would allow me to further investigate these whakapapa connections and write into them. I’ll take German classes too. I learned Māori as an adult, and I’m looking forward to the experience of learning this new, ancestral language. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus solely on the writing of poetry for such a solid block of time.”

For the rest of the CNZ announcement see here.

Kerrin P Sharpe’s There’s a Medical Name for This — It is an astonishing book that lurked in the undergrowth of my thoughts for months

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Kerrin P Sharpe There’s No Medical Name for This Victoria University Press, 2014


Last year I posted a poem from Kerrin P Sharpe’s new poetry collection, There’s a Medical Name for This. Finally, after all this time, I have picked up the book to reread and review. It is an astonishing book that lurked in the undergrowth of my thoughts for months with its sachets of strangeness, enigma, acute realness. Just casting your eye down the poem titles is poetry pleasure. Some collections house a poem or two that stand out, where the poet has transcended that which is good to become that which astonishes. In this book, I found countless examples that did that for me. Not in a flaming extravagant way but in ways that are at more of an alluring whisper. These poems are imbued with little droplets of incident, image, tension.

Near the start of the book, a miniature earthquake poem, whose perfect line breaks punctuate the modicum of detail, the deft phrasing (‘the basilica is a waltz of stone’) and the way the final stanza sings you back to the title (‘when gerry thinks of angels he hears their wings’).

Sometimes, oftentimes, the poems step into strangeness surrealness the point of becoming fable. There are no endnotes to provide author-led guy ropes into a poem so it is over to you where you step. ‘[T]here were stars behind him,’ a portrait of an elephant, shifts from an elephant in a photograph with Hemingway to ‘that year the elephant/ became a living lighthouse/ he wore a lamp/ and built a curved staircase.’ Magical. Or, in an even more captivating example (‘in the cart’), a mother, a pie cart, two hats and pastry come together in what might be a bedtime story, an heirloom anecdote, a housewifery lesson.

Rather than talk about what the poems are doing, I keep discovering snippets to share with you. The way the beginnings of the poems catch you by surprise: ‘every poem has a mother/ to feed his house/ the small bones of snow.’ Where to after such a glorious start? An equally glorious ending (I am withholding the middle!): ‘not even his mother// sews such small birds.’

Things aren’t stable in this collection. This becomes that and that becomes this as tropes shift and settle and then shift again. And so ‘a pine that is/ really the breeze/ a fish that is/ really a stone.’ Similes startle and invigorate the lines: ‘her thoughts in the thermal pools/ like fern wrapped sushi.’

These poems draw upon illness, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, twins, snow, much snow, ponies, many ponies, birds and feathers. Whatever the subject matter, there is movement, and out of that movement vibrant, life.

Characters (pilgrims, farmers, surgeons, whistlers, gondoliers) stroll though the poems and it seems to me they wear whiffs of the poet, autobiographical traces, and yet they are more than that. Anyone can occupy these shoes that are like little shoe-stories that get handed down and then tried on for size. They are also, and so often, like fairy tales that take you out of the tedium of daily grind and familiarity and transport you to the magic and mystery of otherness and magical possibility. The poems might have a local genesis but they reach out beyond to the faraway, to Russia, rice plantations, Antarctica. Here or there, everything is in debt to place and that attachment to ‘where’ is one that makes the poems matter (‘the small farmer remains place faithful/ to the dell’). Characters become a way of circulating stories, those traces of anecdote, a forward tang to elsewhere (a turbine// turns my father’). The procession of pilgrims throughout is the poetic glue that tenders physical bearings to an uplift of wonderment. We get to be the pilgrims of the poems. We get to feel the gap, the connections, the arrival at arm’s length.

Some poems surprise in their shifting forms. ‘[S]on’ juxtaposes two definitions — the first stanza prosaic and dictionary-like, the second stanza exemplifying personal portrait as definition. The ‘half the story’ (I adore this poem!) is indeed half a story; it builds a list that builds narrative out of what you might call stream-of-conscious jump cuts.

You need a treasure box to store the adorable phrases and lines: ‘She carries him through the loom/ of fields’ ‘in the long legged darkness’ ‘the beachcomber/ keeps a button box/ a cross section/ of folded years’ ‘my father’s kitchen/ was older than eggs.’

This is a collection of exquisite variety, yet these poems are a snug fit as though for all their differences, they are meant to be together. As I read, my favourite poem was replaced by the one I was currently reading, and then again, and then again. To read these poems is to be a pilgrim – tasting the sweet and sour bite of the land, feeling the lure of travel and elsewhere, entering the space between here and there that is utterly mysterious, facing a terrific moment of epiphany.


VUP page