Going West’s opening night – packed, warm & uplifting with the occasional bites!

Great to see a packed hall ( a refurbished hall no less) that was a celebration of books and writers but also a celebration of Murray Gray and Naomi McCleary. They say this might be their last year of involvement. But let’s see. I salute them too whole heartedly!

After the powhiri, Glenn read from Alistair Te Ariki Campbell’s Gallipoli poem which was breathtaking to kick start the night.

Harry Ricketts read a poetry medley and I am sure will have hooked a few poets on the triolet form. So good read aloud. Delicious. In ten minutes he managed to make us laugh as much as ooh and aah and gasp. Great reading.

Glenn then introduced his song poem which was extraordinary (I loved the fascinating back story but would have loved it shortened a tad to fit another song poem in) . It came out of being at the Derek Challis session a few years back and discovering Robin Hyde’s (Derek’s mother) poetry and story. So the poem song was to and for and of Robin. I could hear her poetry in it. The whole thing was a mix of a sea shanty come skipping song come folk song come poem. Glenn sang it unaccompanied and I adored it. Want to hear them all.

In between the poets, Stephanie brought her sharp wit to a a playful and utterly political navigation of the line (take the line in any direction you like) in which she also adopted the persona of The National Party Poet (not CK Stead! but a national party stalwart). She had the audience in stitches. Alongside the political nips that hit home, she celebrated Going West — literary festivals, Auckland literary festivals in particular. Genius.

I missed the rest and (supper and talking to a packed house of readers and writers) to drive home through the long wet scary dark of Scenic Drive from one side of the west to the other. Thoughts bounding with the slish shlosh of the wipers.The squeak of the road on the hairpin corners.

A great night.  Tonight the Poetry Slam.


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