Monthly Archives: July 2016


LOUNGE #51 Wednesday 10 August

Old Government House Lounge, UoA City Campus, Princes St and Waterloo Quadrant, 5.30-7 pm


John Adams and Don’t Judge Me

Iain Britton

Janet Charman

Owen Connors

Romy Hooper

Gregory Kan

Vivienne Plumb

Ila Selwyn

David Taylor

Barbara Unković


Free entry. Food and drinks for sale in the Buttery. Information Michele Leggott  or 09 373 7599 ext. 87342

The LOUNGE readings are a continuing project of the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc), Auckland University Press and Auckland University English, Drama and Writing Studies,  in association with the Staff Common Room Club at Old Government House.


LOUNGE READINGS #51-53: 10 August, 21 September, 19 October 2016

Going West Festival programme now out


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This is the first festival with new programme directors.  The programme offers the usual eclectic mix of conversations in a great setting with good food. A family festival, in a way.

There are a few poetry highlights but gone are the little poetry interludes breaking up the sessions. I miss that.


Emma Neale is the Curnow Reader.

Albert Wendt is giving the keynote address.

Serie Barford and Gregory Kan are in a session with Robert Sullivan.

On Saturday night there is the poetry slam with judges yet to be announced.


I am chairing a session with Sue Orr and Helen Margaret Waaka: ‘In Small Places …’


A few things I don’t want to miss:

Emma Neale: What happens when trauma transforms our children? Emma Neale offers up a lyrical exploration of parenthood that is both funny and disarmingly frank. She’ll discuss her new novel with writer Siobhan Harvey.

Damien Wilkins and Sue Orr in conversation on writing, teaching and Damien’s Dad Art, a vibrant novel about the capacity for surprise and renewal.

Barbara Brookes shares the story behind her ground-breaking A History of New Zealand Women with Judith Pringle, looking at the shaping of New Zealand through a female lens.

Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd joins lifelong music fan John Campbell to share his memories of the label’s early days and the spirit of adventure and independence that took its sound to the world.


Full programme here.

Sir James Wallace supports creative writing

Sir James Wallace supports creative writing

26 July 2016
Cybonn Ang, Sir James Wallace and Angelique Kasmara at the Pah Homestead

Cybonn Ang, Sir James Wallace and Angelique Kasmara at the Pah Homestead

Arts patron and philanthropist Sir James Wallace funds two scholarships and a prize to support creative writing in the Faculty of Arts.

Two Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Scholarships are awarded each year to incoming Master of Creative Writing (MCW) students, based on the strength of their application.

At the end of the programme, the Sir James Wallace Master of Creative Writing Prize is awarded to the writer who has produced the best portfolio of work.

The scholarships are valued at $3,500 each, and the prize is valued at $5,000 — New Zealand’s richest prize for a creative writing student.

This year the two scholarships went to Cybonn Ang and Angelique Kasmara.

Angelique explains that “as a single parent with a young child, embarking on a Master of Creative Writing — and having to take out a large student loan — was by far the scariest thing I’ve done this year.”

“However, as well as easing my stress over the financial burden, the scholarship goes far in reassuring me that I am on the right path. Also, as I’ve long admired Sir James Wallace’s support for the arts, it feels extra special to be one of the recipients of this award.”

The convenor of the MCW, Paula Morris, is very appreciative of Sir James’s targeted generosity.

“Sir James’s ongoing support of creative writing at Auckland reflects his support of and respect for emerging talent. The MCW is a programme of writers rather than students — they’re working on books, and many have sacrificed a lot to make the year’s writing possible. The encouragement and endorsement of a patron like Sir James means a great deal to all of us.”

Sir James is steadfast in his support of the arts, and encourages others to follow his lead.

“Philanthropy is of vital importance for all communities. It is the civic and moral duty of those that are in the position to do so to support appropriate institutions, causes or individuals financially and in other ways. By doing so they contribute to improving and enriching the lives of those around them, which in turn can be very rewarding for the philanthropist.”
Find out more about the Master of Creative Writing or giving to Auckland


Book Launch: Jenny Bornholdt’s new poems and Ashleigh Young’s essays



Victoria University Press warmly invites you to the launch of

Selected Poems
by Jenny Bornholdt


Can You Tolerate This? Personal Essays
by Ashleigh Young

6.00pm–7.30pm, Thursday 11 August
at Unity Books
57 Willis St, Wellington.
All welcome.

Buy both books on the night for only $60 (normally $70).
This offer applies at the Unity Books launch only.

For more information click on the titles below:
Selected Poems by Jenny Bornholdt
$40, hardback
Can You Tolerate This? Personal Essays by Ashleigh Young
$30, paperback



Auckland University Press

Press release:

28 July 2016


Auckland University Press are delighted to announce the foundation of the Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Creative Lives Series. This series represents an outstanding act of philanthropy by Gerrard and Marti Friedlander, who have contributed so much to the arts in New Zealand over the years. In a world where funding is precarious, this sort of philanthropic support for New Zealand publishing is hugely appreciated. The Press has now launched the first book in the series, Peter Simpson’s Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933–1953.


Press Director Sam Elworthy commented: ‘Publishing first Leonard Bell’s book on Marti Friedlander’s photography and then Marti’s own powerful memoir Self-Portrait, we loved working with Marti and she enjoyed her relationship with the Press. Out of that relationship, we are just thrilled that Gerrard and Marti decided to support a new Creative Lives Series. That support will enable us to create a whole line-up of beautifully produced books that chronicle the creative spirit in this country. Kicking off with Peter Simpson’s Bloomsbury South, we look forward to many great lives and many great books in the years to come.’


For further information contact:

Louisa Kasza
Auckland University Press


Out and About with ‘Iris Dreaming’



Published on YouTube Jul 25, 2016

Robin Hyde – who was born Iris Wilkinson – was one of the greatest poets in New Zealand. But her eventful life, which took her to war-torn China and to London on the brink of World War Two, was rocked by trauma and crisis.

Listening to Frank O’Hara


Listening to Frank O’Hara




Josephine is a tourist and wants to do things spontaneously like go into Jackson McNally and buy Laura Solomon or Short Talks or listen to Frank O’Hara read why he’s not a painter on YouTube, but all she finds is a heartbreaking rendition of ‘Having a coke with you,’ read cigarette in hand, in that melodic voice, American accent dipping and pausing until he asks indirectly, what good is art when all he sees is paint just paint, and his lover all movement, ah such movement and the face, hot beyond portraiture. You need the right person beside the right tree in the right light in the right city and this is love. She hears that and reads of his death.




© Paula Green New York Pocket Book Seraph Press 2016




a new journal to be launched


From Mimicry (not sure who will be in this or who produces it):

Mimicry launches this Thursday, this Thursday, THIS THURSDAY. Did you know that people will remember something if it’s said three times in a row? This may or may not be true.

Our PDF download is now available to pre-order and features a whole five fewer mistakes than what you’ll find in the hardcopy. We’ll email you a link on the launch date.

A limited number of the hardcopy journal will be available at Unity Books Wellington as of Thursday 28 July.

At this stage it’s looking like the hardcopy will sell out, so if you think you’ll arrive late to the launch, you can order online and secure a copy to pickup.

Use the code ‘launchpickup’ to negate shipping costs (the website will take this off the product cost, making it $2, and the total will balance at $7). Put in a real or fake address; it doesn’t matter. Do not use this code for ordering multiple copies (please email instead).

All orders come through and are dispatched from Mimicry HQ, so I promise an invisible US entity will not rob you—at least, not through our website.

Is Hera Lindsay Bird a flash in the pan?



‘All I care about is looking at things and naming them’

‘I love life’

Hera Lindsay Bird Hera Lindsay Bird, Victoria University Press, 2016


For the past week or so, after visits to our key research libraries,  I have been writing about Jessie Mackay, a founding mother of New Zealand poetry. What I am writing is under wraps but my relationship with both the woman and her poetry is not clear cut. She moves me, she astonishes me, she irritates me, but I am always filled with admiration. One question bubbling away is: how different is it for women writing over a hundred years later?  Sure, contemporary poems are like a foreign country, we have changed so much. But what of our behaviour as poets? Our reception? What feeds us? What renders us vulnerable and what makes us strong?

I want to draw a pencil line from Jessie Mackay to Hera Lindsay Bird and see what I can peg on it. But I want to save these thoughts for my book.

Hera Lindsay Bird has attracted the biggest hoo-ha with a poetry book I can recall. It felt like I was witnessing the birth of a cult object. Images of the book cover on the side of a bus or a building (photoshopped?!?!) created a little Twitter buzz. Lorde tweeted. Anika Moa tweeted. Tim Upperton reviewed it on launch day on National Radio. Interviews flamed the fan base on The Spin Off, The Wireless and Pantograph Punch. The interviews promoted a debut poet that is hip and hot and essential reading. Poems posted have attracted long comment trails that apparently included downright vitriol (I haven’t read these and I think just applied to one poem). The Spin Off cites this as one of a number of factors in the shutting down of all comments on their site. The launch was jam packed, the book sold out, and took the number one spot on the bestseller list. Hera is a poet with attitude. Well, all poets have attitude, but there is a degree of provocation in what she says and writes. Maybe it’s a mix of bite and daring and vulnerability. Just like it is with JM, Hera’s poetry moves, astonishes and irritates me, but most importantly, it gets me thinking/feeling/reacting and prompts admiration.


A few thoughts on Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird


This book is like rebooting self. Each poem reloads Hera. Click click whirr.

At first you might think the book is like the mohawk of a rebellious punk who doesn’t mind hate or kicking stones at glass windows or saying fuck at the drop of a hat.

The word love is in at least two thirds of the poems. It catches you at times with the most surprising, perfect image:

‘when we first fell in love

the heart like a trick candle

on an ancient, moss-dark birthday cake’


‘it’s love that plummets you

back down the elevator shaft’


You could think of this book as a handbook to love because Hera doesn’t just write love poems, she riffs on notions of love:

‘It’s like falling in love for the first time for the last time’

or: ‘What is there to say about love that hasn’t already been’


Some lines are meant to shock you out of reading lethargy:

‘I feel a lot of hate for people’

or: ‘My friend says it’s bad poetry to write a book’

or: ‘Some people are meant to hate forever’



‘It’s a bad crime to say poetry in poetry

It’s a bad, adorable crime

Like robbing a bank with a mini-hairdryer’


Hera reads other poets and uses them as springboards to write from: Mary Ruefle, Bernadette Mayer, Mary Oliver, Chelsey Minnis, Emily Dickinson.

Sometimes the book feels like a confessional board. Poetry as confession. It hurts. There is pain. There is always love.

This poetry is personal. Poems (like little characters) interrupt the personal or the chantlike list or the nettle opinion the honey opinion as though they want a say and need to reflect back on their own making, if not maker.

Love hate sex girlfriends life death: it is not what you write but how you write it that makes a difference, that is the flash in the pan, not to mention the pan itself.

Hera writes in a conversational tone, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, as though we are in a cafe together and some things get drowned out but the words are electric and we all listen spellbound.


She uses excellent similes. On poetry:

‘This is like an encore to an empty auditorium

It’s a swarm of hornets rising out of the piano’


‘Neither our love nor our failures will save us

all our memories

like tin cans on a wedding car

throwing up sparks’


‘I can only look at you

Like you are a slow-burning planet

And I am pouring water through a telescope.’


Hera likes to talk about bad poems; like the wry punk attitude that says look at my bad style. I am not convinced that there is much in the way of bad poetry here unless you are talking about a vein of impoliteness. It kind of feels like a set of Russian dolls – inside the bad poetry good poetry and inside that the bad and then good and so on and so forth. There is always craft and the ears have been working without fail.

One favourite poem in the book is ‘Mirror Traps’ but I am saving that for the Jessie Mackay pencil line.

Hera’s sumptuous book comes out of a very long tradition of poets busting apart poetic decorum, ideals and displays of self. It’s a while since we have witnessed such provocation on our local poetry scene. What I like about this scintillating writing is that each poem manifests such a love of and agility with words — no matter how bad it tries to be. It is addictive reading. Yes there is a flash that half blinds you and spits searing fat along your forearms, but you get to taste the sizzling halloumi with peppery rocket and citrus dressing.


‘I love to feel this bad because it reminds me of being human

I love this life too

Every day something new happens and I think

so this the way things are now’


PS I adore the cover!

Hera Lindsay Bird has an MA in poetry from Victoria University where she won the 2011 Adam Prize for best folio. She was the 2009 winner of the Story! Inc. Prize for Poetry and the Maurice Gee Prize in Children’s Writing. She lives in Wellington with her girlfriend and collection of Agatha Christie video games.


Poem: ‘Everything Is Wrong


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