This is an excellent programme with the usual eclectic array of NZ voices/writers.
Poetry at Going West:
Plus this little run of highlights:
And many more!
This is an excellent programme with the usual eclectic array of NZ voices/writers.
Poetry at Going West:
Plus this little run of highlights:
And many more!
Writers on Mondays 2017, hosted by Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), brings together a line-up of new and established talent to showcase what’s happening in the world of New Zealand writing and beyond.
To launch the 2017 programme the IIML is presenting the first free Wellington performance of Tell Me My Name, Bill Manhire’s sequence of thirteen riddle poems set to music by composer Norman Meehan and performed by vocalist Hannah Griffin and Victoria New Zealand School of Music violinist and lecturer Martin Riseley. The concert takes place at 5.30pm, Tuesday 11 July at Meow, 9 Edward Street.
The popular lunchtime series at Te Papa Tongarewa begins on 17 July and the first three weeks feature award-winning authors from America, Australia and New Zealand.
It kicks off with Catherine Chidgey, winner of the $50,000 Acorn Fiction Prize at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, in conversation about her prize-winning book The Wish Child and her writing career to date.
On 24 July, 2016 Stella Prize winner Charlotte Wood, one of Australia’s “most original and provocative writers” (The Australian) appears with New Zealand novelist and convenor of the IIML Master of Arts fiction stream Emily Perkins.
On 31 July, American poet and essayist Marianne Boruch joins the IIML’s poetry and creative nonfiction convenor Chris Price to explore how her work approaches the big topics of love, death and human knowledge. Marianne Boruch’s restless curiosity ranges across science, music, medicine and art, asking questions such as “why does the self grow smaller as the poem grows enormous?”.
Director of the IIML Professor Damien Wilkins says the combination of new voices and established writers in Writers on Mondays is wonderful.
“This free series is a great way for readers and writers to get together for entertaining, informative, uplifting, even perplexing sessions of talk and performance.”
On 7 August poet and novelist Anna Smaill introduces a quartet of poets with exciting new books. Featuring work from the cutting edge of NZ poetry with Louise Wallace (Bad Things), Hannah Mettner (Fully Clothed and So Forgetful), Maria McMillan (The Ski Flier) and Airini Beautrais (Flow).
In Hopeful Animals, 14 August, Damien Wilkins, Tracey Farr and Pip Adam discuss and read from their recent novels, and consider how fiction continues to provide a vital lens on contemporary life.
Writers on Mondays will acknowledge National Poetry Day with the annual Best New Zealand Poems reading on 21 August. Best New Zealand Poems 2016 editor and Arts Foundation Laureate Jenny Bornholdt introduces this lively session featuring 13 poets at the top of their game.
On 28 August The Fuse Box gathers some of our best writers to shine a light on the creative process. Playwright Gary Henderson, novelists Rajorshi Chakraborti and Elizabeth Knox, and poet James Brown join editors Chris Price and Emily Perkins to take a look at the wiring of creative writers and celebrate the launch of this collection of essays on creativity from Victoria University Press.
Acclaimed playwright Victor Rodger, the Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence for 2017, has assembled a panel of writers to explore how the work of others can inspire and challenge. Mitch Tawhi Thomas, Moana Ete, Jamie McCaskill and Faith Wilson discuss the dynamics of creative communities on 4 September.
The final month of events showcases work from the current cohort of writers in the Masters in Creative Writing Programme at the IIML. It begins with fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction writers in The Next Page, 11 and 18 September, then moves to Circa Theatre for Short Sharp Script, 25 September and 2 October, where actors perform dynamic new work by participants in the Master of Arts scriptwriting workshop.
The Writers on Mondays series runs from 17 July to 2 October, 12.15–1.15pm, Te Marae, Level 4, Te Papa Tongarewa, with the exception of the opening concert at Meow and the two Short Sharp Script events at Circa Theatre. Admission is free and all are welcome.
The full 2017 Writers on Mondays programme is can be viewed and downloaded from the IIML’s website.
Writers on Mondays is presented by Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and additional support from Circa Theatre and National Poetry Day.
For more information contact Pip Adam on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The road goes by the house
the wind sings in the tree
we sing the travelling worlds
we sing quietly
(we sing quietly)
I have never learned to meditate but running on the beach is a way of being completely in the moment, of absorbing sky, sea and sand, with everything else on hold. I find the same thing happens when I do cryptic crosswords—whether as a bedtime ritual or in a waiting-room—the head clatter dissolves. I have, courtesy of Bill Manhire’s Tell Me My Name, discovered a new floating aid: the riddle poem.
Bill’s book is a collection of riddle poems with alluring photographs by Peter Peryer and a CD where the riddle poem becomes song, courtesy of Hannah Griffin’s voice and Norman Meehan’s music.
I’m made of where you’re going
I’m made of north and south
I’m made of possibility
I’m made of somewhere else
Upon first reading, I meet the poems with the riddleness waiting in the rhyme, the echoes, the porousness, the enigma, the sweetly crafted melody. I let song wait and then the poems start to sing themselves because they are music rich. There is such openness, as though you enter a vast field that might be corn or might be sunflowers, that generates both movement and stillness.
Upon second reading, I pay attention to the riddles and drift in and out of an atlas, a memory, a shadow. Now I have my floating aid. I am not sure what things are or the answer to the riddles, and that is the unexpected joy of it (like the rhythm of running or cryptic clues where there is a Ha! at arrival which is good but not as good as the travel). One day I will look at the end page and discover the names of things, but it will puncture the delight of currently never knowing (in many cases). Perhaps I have found a bridge, an ocean, an echo, a family tree, a watermelon, a muddy puddle, ice, the dark, longitude and latitude. I am thinking this is the perfect book to take on a long haul flight, to have in my bag for steamy queues, but I don’t want to lose it. The riddle poem as flotation aid is like a strip razor sharpening your mind, a shot of vitamins that restores equilibrium.
And now the CD. I keep playing it over and over to fall into the honey gravel lift and dip of Hannah’s voice or the textured music, the delicious pared-back feel so that each note— whether violin, piano, whistles or voice—resonates.
Victoria University Press has produced a beautiful hard-cover book. It is going in my carry-on bag.
I’m always at the cinema
I’m always at the beach
I’m waiting in that secret place
that lovers try to reach
Victoria University page
Interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ National
Wordsongs, St Peters Hall, Paekākāriki, 3rd March 2016
I go partly because there’s like a major poetry type gig in Paekākāriki and I’m a Paekākāriki poet and it feels a bit rude not to go. Imagine, I think, if there’s only six people there without me and they decide never to have anything poetry related in our village ever again. Yes, we call it a village and I needn’t have worried. Having scoffed down as much of a delicious fried-rice concoction as I possibly could in 94 seconds I arrive three minutes late and take the Very Last Seat. It’s an actual excited crowd, in carefully arranged tiers. They’ve turned St Peters Hall around so we face the direction of the sea and one long side of the hall with its cool house-shaped wooden-window shutter things. The huge red velvet curtain hangs over the stage to our left and the doors to the village main street to our right.
I love this hall but truthfully, I’m a bit wary of poetry set to music. It’s the puritanical killjoy in me which says, honey, you need to decide, music or poetry. Just get away with your weird, not very interesting bongo drumming interspersed with a man saying two words usually something like organic tomatoes in a quiet yet loud, yet well modulated, yet with working-class-solidarity voice and then pausing a full minute while making eye contact with every member of the audience before saying wet. But I know it’s kind of prudish of me and I need to open myself to new experiences so I am willing and here and listening.
Local poet, Dinah Hawken, who starts us off, makes me feel very comfortable. She reads her poetry sans music, the way it should be (sorry) and she starts with a good long poem about environmental catastrophe. The poem earns its length and I enjoy Hawken’s meditative delivery. She reads slowly and thoughtfully and the poem turns from lament to challenge to conversation. I feel like I’m hearing more and more poetry like this, laced with planet grief and helplessness and wonder. I’m glad it’s being written.
The main act is Bill Manhire with singer Hannah Griffen, pianist Norman Meehan and Hayden Chisholm on saxophone and clarinet. To begin with I think Chisholm is tuning up, his sax is breathy and rough and understated and there’s no clear strong notes but then I realise this is part of it all. He’s throat clearing and then the other clear notes come, but through the set I see this replication of human noises, and also the absorbing of other sounds and instruments. I hear reverb and the plucking of a guitar, slow growling, didgeridoo and the noise of traffic all through his instruments.
In this first song, an interpretation of Baxter’s High Country Weather, the piano and singing come in beside the brass and I’m startled by how much action, how much sound can be produced by just three people. Griffin’s voice is like some really good jazz club singer. I get that vibe through the night. I want to be sitting at a small lamped table having intimate conversations. She sings big, beautiful and clear, high and low. Next Bill, congenial and with charming anecdotes that thrill the poetry nerd in me, reads Rain by Hone Tuwhare and then the three musicians play it back to us. I get it now. I can listen to the poems read as poems, and listen to the music as music. No bongo drums. No organic tomatoes and soulful stares. It’s a relief. And when I hear Rain sung I’m struck by how lineation changes with the music, the words become split and lumped in different way. We can hear hidden rhymes and rhythms which may be a subtle backbone to verse on the page but in music are drawn out and played with. Cool.
Meehan tells us the set is pretty much the album Small holes in the silence, featuring versions of Manhire and other poets’ work as songs. We hear interpretations of Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Manhire, David Mitchell, and my favourite piece, two poems by Eileen Duggan. I can’t actually hear the words as Griffin sings so perfectly in tune with the sax, so my liking this all the same proves how thoroughly mature I’ve become about the whole poetry and music mash up. What I love in this song is the way the sax more than ever takes the role of a voice; for a moment the sax and the singer are a duet and in a kind of heady triumph. After that the two seem to swap places; Griffin no longer singing words but sounds become another instrument and the saxophone becomes a human voice. It’s a meandering interesting work. I also love Manhire’s stories about and poem for Cornish poet Charles Causley. The evening ended with a spoken and then musical interpretation of Manhire’s rhyming list poem ‘1950s.’ The crowd loved it, they threw flowers, they cheered, they stomped. Well, they didn’t but I’m sure if they thought of it they would have. They applauded long and hard. I wander out into the Paekākāriki night. Now the traffic sounds like a saxophone. The crossing signals go off. A train, windows bright, rumbles past us on its way to Waikanae. I wave.
I seem to have been a roving poetry reporter these past few weeks but time to shut the hatches and stay at home. This event will be good – I judge this on my experience of hearing Hannah sing Bill at the AWF a few years ago. Transcendental experience.
I urge you to check this poetry event out and would love a wee response from a poetry patron to post on the blog.
Tickets $20 from Eventfinder or Darcey’s Fruit Shop. Limited door sales at $25.
QUERIES: Gilbert Haisman. Tel 04 904 8428 or 022 0122 103. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Small Holes in the Silence Rattle VUP
The CD looks good with its striking cover but what matters is that this CD sounds spectacular. Norman Meehan on piano, Hannah Griffin on voice and Hayden Chisholm on saxophone have taken a number of New Zealand poems (terrific poems) and transformed them into song.
For example: Hone Tuwhare’s ‘Rain’, Bill Manhire’s ‘Ballad of the Hurting Girl,’ James K Baxter’s ‘High Country Weather,’ Alistair Campbell’s ‘Blue Rain,’ Eileen Duggan’s ‘Frost,’ David Mitchell’s ‘Yellow Room.’
Tricky stiff — translating poetry into song when the new score might muffle the internal music to such an extent the poetry suffers. How does word meet external melody?
In this case, the poem becomes something different, a wonderful different that almost needs a new word to signal its poetry/music status. Word becomes music and music becomes word. Like a yin yang kind of thing. Two sides of the one cloth.
I loved the enticing interplay between silence, chord, harmony, counterpoint, key, movement and word. The arcing melody of instrument and voice step out from a word or phrase. Lightly. Surprisingly. Beautifully.
And the voice. The glorious voice that makes hairs stand on end. Hannah takes a word and savours it in her mouth. The word itself becomes aural poem with its dips, lifts and extensions.
Ah. Poetry becomes melody, melody slips into the pores of your skin and when you return to the poem on the page there is this haunting refrain. The voice, the piano, the saxophone — secret aural undercurrents as you read.
Plus there is a great introduction by Bill Manhire. I especially agree with this: ‘The music doesn’t overpower the words; but neither does it defer to them.’
I highly recommend this!
I love Making Baby Float.
I love hearing Hannah sing Bill.
A new CD on the October horizon.
I got to hear Bill Manhire’s glorious ‘Ballad of the Hurting Girl’ he sent to my Birthday Shelf.
You can order and listen here at Rattle Records, a division of Victoria University Press
Norman Meehan (piano)
Hannah Griffin (voice)
Hayden Chisholm (saxophone)
‘Following the popular and critically acclaimed Buddhist Rain and Making Baby Float, Norman Meehan and Hannah Griffin teamed up with saxophonist Hayden Chisholm for this third instalment in their New Zealand poetry series. The relaxed serendipitous style of Norman and Hannah fits Hayden like a glove. A musician of remarkably understated confidence and sensitivity, Hayden’s wonderfully nuanced phrases float effortlessly around the restrained sensitivity of Norman and Hannah.’ Rattle Records website