Tag Archives: Tina Makereti

Poetry Shelf 2018 Fiction Bouquet: Tina Makereti’s The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke

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Tina Makereti, The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke, Penguin 2018

 

Tina Makereti, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi and Pākehā descent, writes fiction that has always captivated me and her most recent novel, The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke, is no exception. Published last year, and longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, I am awarding it my 2018 Fiction Bouquet.

I have invented this award to underline the supreme reading pleasures Tina’s novel gifted me. I begin with the language and the way her sentences are so exquisitely crafted. They carry story, character, setting and significant issues with ease and fluidity, as though they work behind the scenes giving life to the narrative features. Yet I am acutely aware of the writing. The way a particular word choice makes a sentence sing, the way voice gives flesh and feeling to James to the point he is utterly real to me.

 

James Pōneke was orphaned as young boy. His mother and sister were killed in a massacre, his father, a chief, left him with missionaries and was later killed. James became fluent in English and hungered for books and knowledge, but the ways of his people became more and more distant as he became more and more uncomfortable living in the mission. The book starts with a life- and trauma-worn James in London, confined to bed and aching to tell his story, to the maid, to the Artist’s sister and upon the paper he was given.

Through James’s eyes and voice we travel along the arc from orphaned boy to bedridden man. He places himself on show just as the Artist who brought him to London placed him on a show; a curiosity, an exhibit to accompany the paintings of Māori that the unnamed Artist had produced in New Zealand. James was a spectacle for the curious and disdainful spectator in the great British museum, but he turns the viewfinder and scrutinises them; not just as they watch him in the museum setting but out in streets that bear riches alongside aching poverty.

One reading track is the abundance of wonder and awe as James absorbs London on diverse settings. He admits he watches like a wide-eyed child or a wiser elder but mainly from the pitfalls of youth. Questions abound and those questions then unsettle any possibility of a ‘tidy’ and misrepresented past, particularly colonial.

A second reading track is the prevalence of cages and containments. There are the animals in London Zoo, the way the Mission upbringing, despite little kindnesses, forced James to break away and travel with another tribe. The London houses felt like cages after the New Zealand landscape where the largest and most beautiful things were trees. There is also the self-containment that was dictated by London social mores, and the way a cultural stereotype is a form of imprisonment. Reading this book I was reminded of Selina Tusitala Marsh’s reception when she performed her poem, ‘Unity ‘ at Westminster Abbey for the Queen for the Commonwealth Observance Day (2016). The disdain and rudeness of the distinguished guest seated next to her reduced Selina to an object in my view rather than an honoured international poet. Selina wrote of this experience in ‘Pussy Cat’  (both poems appear in Tightrope, Auckland University Press, 2017).

Perhaps the most important track is the way the telling becomes a remembering, the way the lost and faded self comes to light as James speaks to the past, the present and the future, to his imagined mokopuna. For me imagination, these imaginary stories, becomes a way of adjusting the viewfinder so that we may unsettle master narratives and engage with a different point of view. We get to see James as an acutely intelligent person who struggles with his own crises and trauma and who experiences his own joy and epiphanies. The book is a timely read. As we learn to make connections with respect and empathy, in a world that has privileged hierarchies and conflict, Tina’s novel is a welcome handbook on how to listen. It affected me deeply, at the level of both heart and mind.

Tina, please accept my 2018 Fiction Bouquet, with love, Paula.

 

Penguin author page

An extract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtney Sina Meredith airs new poems at a very good Ladies Litera-Tea – here are two for you

 

 

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This year, The Women’s Bookshop hosted two Ladies Litera-Tea events. I didn’t make the first one, but the one on Sunday was perhaps the best one I have been to. The range of voices was inspired programming. I needed toothpicks to hold my eyes up when I left home, but Dame Fiona Kidman had me sitting up listening to the sonnets she wrote for her mother, Kirsten McDougall mesmerised with an extract from the must-read Tess, Heather Kidd showed the diverse creativity and ambitions of rural women (wow!), Michalia Arathimos spoke of the gut-wrenching origins of her debut also must-read novel Aukati, Fiona Farrell’s extract from Decline & Fall on Savage Street had me sitting on the edge of my seat, the sentences were so good (now have a copy!). Hearing how Eat My Lunch came into being from Lisa King underlined the difference one person can make (with help from friends!). 

The first half was a glorious rollercoasting brain-sparking heart-warming delight.

By this stage no vestiges of tiredness. I thought I might flag in the second half but the immune-system boost continued. Wow! Hearing Sue Wootton read poems was a bit like hearing Anne Kennedy read and I just wanted more (please can she come to AWF?), Annaleese Jochems had me gasping every time she read an extract (also now on my table), Diana Wichtel’s account of Driving to Treblinka and her missing Polish Jewish father was so moving I was in awe of her tenacity and ability to bring that story to life on the page, Tina Makereti made abundantly clear why Black Marks on the White Page matters and why this collection is compulsive reading. I actually loved the way – rather than read her own award-winning ‘Black Milk’  – she picked ‘Famished Eels’ by Mary Rokonadravu to read (it had won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Pacific Region).

We tell stories and we write poems in so many different ways – and that matters.

I came home with four new novels and so much more! Thank you Carole Beu, her team and the authors. I so needed that pick-me-up. Seriously I felt like I had come back from a month at Sandy Bay after reading novels and swimming.

Somewhere in the glorious mix, Courtney Sina Meredith read some new poems – which is no easy thing. I loved hearing her half sing/half speak an early poem,  ‘Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick’, and I loved hearing the new poems. There is the same musical lift, the same political undercurrents, the same heart that beats along every line – yet there is also a stepping out, a tasking risks, a renewed self exposure with vital attachments to the world. Courtney kindly agreed to let me post two new poems that make a rather good pairing. Just so you can have a taste. I feel rather lucky as I an read them with her performance voice taking over.

I just adore the way these two poems make conversations with each other.

 

The poems

 

How about being a woman?

How about being a young woman?

How about being a young brown woman?

How about being a young brown queer woman?

How about being a young brown queer single woman?

How about being a young brown queer single educated woman?

How about being a young brown queer single educated professional woman?

How about being a young brown queer single educated professional creative woman?

How about being a young brown queer single educated professional woman?

How about being a young brown queer single educated woman?

How about being a young brown queer single woman?

How about being a young brown queer woman?

How about being a young brown woman?

How about being a young woman?

How about being a woman?

 

 

 

 

I have stolen away into the secret room

mothers build inside their daughters

I am feeding on a dowry centuries old

the bones sucked dry

a feast of bright quiet.

 

My mother’s dreams are here

beside the red gold river

born of shame and laughter

the shifting bank won’t hold.

 

Her mother’s wings are here

wild shimmered iridescent

girl to bird to prophet

an angel killing time.

 

And there is her mother

at the top of the sky ablaze

lighting the islands below

into a string of tears.

 

©Courtney Sina Meredith

 

 

 

 

 

Tina Makereti’s University of Auckland Public Lecture: Poutokomanawa — The Heartpost

An essential lecture from Tina Makareti: ‘Stories can save your life’

This is an edited version of Tina Makereti’s University of Auckland Public Lecture: Poutokomanawa — The Heartpost, which was given as part of the Auckland Writers Festival last week. It is posted here at E-Tangata: A Maori and Pasifika Sunday Magazine.

 

I want to begin by acknowledging Tāmaki Makaurau, who I have a history with. I lived here for five years while I was a teenager. When I lived here, I think I was like many Aucklanders. I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. I knew nothing of my whakapapa. I knew nothing of half my family. Nothing at all.

And though I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I felt haunted by that loss. I was as awkward and lost and damaged as a person can be in that situation. But I could write, even though I soon forgot it for a while, and I did write, and creativity kept me alive.

I tell you this now because I want you to know I do not come from privilege, even of the cultural kind. I come from not knowing, and that is how I know how important this kaupapa is. Stories can save your life.

If I could do anything in the world it would be to sit in the corner and read and write books. I would happily lose myself in stories for the rest of my life. I never planned to find myself a podium and talk on it. But here I am because when I started writing seriously I looked around me and I was startled by what I saw, and I knew we were missing something vital, and I wondered how it was we had gotten ourselves into this position.

And I’m not very good at ignoring problems. But I don’t want to start there, with the problems.

Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand – a vibrant, heart-boosting, head -juddering collection

 

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‘To investigate something properly we need all three: archives, dreams, memories …”

Martin Edmond

 

Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand (VUP, 2016), edited by Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey, is a collection to linger over. That the essays are in debt to the personal heightens the effect on the reader because place matters to all of us. One reviewer suggested that New Zealanders are obsessed with place to an unusual degree. I find that hard to believe. We may all have different relations with place whether shaped by cultural, familial or historical factors. We may talk about place in different ways and how it shapes who we are as both as individuals and nations. But place matters.

What I love about this vibrant, heart-boosting, head-juddering collection is that it heads off in a thousand directions—both in view of what is said and how it is said. The recent (and not so recent trend) to filter scholarly thinking through the personal tethers abstract thought to the gritty real world we inhabit on a daily basis, and intellectual thought is all the better for it (although the sublime joy of following abstract argument is still an appealing option).

I love the feel of the book in my hand, the shape and internal design.

 

Ashleigh Young’s opening essay, ‘The Te Kuiti Underground’ revisits a place from her past and it is like refreshing a home page in your head. When she was young, Ashleigh thought, despite her father’s forensic knowledge, that this home place was vacant. The essay opens on a gravel road with a view of paddocks, a sewage pond and the airport. Ashleigh bumps into Paul McCartney, a mutable figure who morphed into George and then later Beck. This warm, wry account of teenage yearnings and adult returns finds effervescent detail to make the threads between home, place and people glow. Yes, the writing is lucid, and that is a certain kind of glow, but the essay delivers such an open and moving insight into familial roots, I got a readerly glow. And that’s gold, if you will forgive the pun.

Other writers take different tacks. Sally Blundell uses quotes from children’s books and characters (Alice, AA Milne, Dr Seuss, the Mock Turtle, Where the Wild Things Are) to structure a moving account of the revival of Christchurch, post-earthquakes: ‘There should be a place where only things you want to happen, happen’ (Sendak). Place and space are questioned and are participants in processes, proposals and discussions that both disconnect and connect the city. This essay is an essential reminder that this place is rebuilding and the grassroots activity is extraordinary. The gap between blueprints and the people is equally so.

Lydia Wevers approaches the Brancepeth Library archives through dirt (they arrived at Victoria University Library in a filthy state!). Much to think about. That image sent me reeling upon the purity of the archives and our relationship with what we read. Lydia sees the drive to find ‘original archival truth’ as somewhat deluded (she borrows this notion), but underlines the way the archival dirt of the Brancepeth collection established a flash of overlap between past and present. This essay was compulsive reading with my current status as researcher. I loved her admissions. This is the final sentence: ‘At some points of recognition, it would be untruthful to remove yourself from the narrative you are trying to make.’

Ingrid Horrocks goes out walking with Creative Writing students on campus and near campus  as part of a research project set up by Massey University ‘in response to a perceived “thinness” of place within the 21st-century multi-campus university.’ The project asks ‘how experience in a particular place might be “thickened” by making connections to that place’s contested histories, its topographies, its inhabitants and uses, its origins.’ Fascinating.

Cherie Lacey was a discovery and I can’t wait to read her memoir (of a failed psychoanalysis). She takes us to reclaimed land behind her dad’s place in Napier. She had been studying psychoanalysis in Melbourne and felt a real aversion to key underpinnings. Chiefly, that ‘we are not the authors of our own texts.’ She ached to be poet rather than poem. The essay, in the spirit of what essays ought to do, puts things on the line in a risky way:

‘This text-that-was-not-my-own didn’t work when it was overlaid on this place. It demanded a different story be made, one that included dog’s brains and a taniwha and a buried lagoon, an earthquake, shards of ceramic and the complicated life of a family.’

Glorious!  ‘This place only exists for me, as me.’

 

Alex Calder stayed in a small Southland lodge, miles from anywhere. He wanted to work on a piece on classic new Zealand fiction of the 1930s and 1940s. Harry Ricketts, having lived in numerous places, admits he doesn’t have a standing place of his own. He has imaginary places (borrowed from Rushdie) and reminds us of the ‘here’ hidden in elsewhere. Lynn Jenner places two texts side by side, in pieces, with dialogue and sideways tracks, in  a way that feels like poetry, uncertain, drawing on the past, with a taniwha hovering. This: ‘I think the place and time of one’s birth act like anchovies in a sauce; not discernible as themselves but present as a salty essence, deep and influential.’

For Alice Te Punga Somerville, place ‘folds and unfolds dynamically.’ The essay is both personal and political as it keenly draws close to the names of places, and then to Māori writers, not just where they come from but where they have gone. This essay is essential in the way it mourns the lack of visibility of Māori writers in all our media and publishing platforms.

Annabel Cooper looks at childhood haunts and lives that lived and loved them: ‘In all these lives, places were “passings that haunted” leaving their imprints in the adults who were one children there.’ Annabel makes the vital point that places are impermanent yet conversely act as anchors.

Tina Makereti responds to the insistent question: ‘Where do you come from?’ Tina cannot give ‘a direct or simple answer’ to the query so the essay, in its pathways through, is fascinating, moving, vital. She returns to a place where her tupuna are. ‘I can’t remember who said it first. We could live here. We should live here. Look at the hills. Look at the sea.’

 

I haven’t finished the book. I have still to read Giovanni Tiso, Martin Edmond, Ian Wedde, Jack Ross, Tim Corballis and Tony Ballantyne. Ha! Looks like I picked out all the women first reflecting my current focus on women’s writing.

This is a terrific collection of essays and I cannot recommend it highly enough. An absolutely productive reading experience for me. Bravo Victoria University Press for publishing it.

Congratulations to this fine writer: Tina Makereti wins NZSA Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship

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MEDIA RELEASE  from NZSA

13 September 2016

Kapiti Coast writer Tina Makereti is the recipient of the New Zealand Society of Authors Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship 2016.

The NZSA Peter and Dianne Beatson Fellowship of $7,000 is awarded each year to a mid-career or senior writer to work on a project that shows a high level of literary merit and national significance.

Tina Makereti will use the fellowship to work on her fiction project the Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke. Tina said “I’m so very grateful to receive the NZSA Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship as it means I’ll be able to take valuable time out to complete this novel. The Fellowship not only supports the project financially, but provides crucial encouragement and just the right amount of time pressure to get things done! Ngā mihi nui ki te whānau Beatson mō tēnei taonga miharo.”

Selection panel convenor Joan Rosier-Jones commented: “there were a number of most worthy applications for the fellowship and the final eight applications were so close in merit that the task of choosing one was enormous. The panel were eventually unanimous in their choice of Tina Makereti for The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke. It is very fine writing and an entertaining concept which should guarantee a wide market”.

This annual award is made possible with grateful thanks to the generosity of the Beatson’s. In 2015 the fellowship was awarded to Michael Harlow who used the time to work on his manuscript All the Pianos in the Wood. He also used the stipend to accept an invitation to represent NZ at the ‘Europa in Versi’ Poetry Festival at Lake Como, Italy. Previous recipients have included Emma Neale, Mandy Hager, Carl Nixon, Glenn Colquhoun, Sue McCauley and Marilyn Duckworth.

We congratulate Tina Makereti and also the applicants who were shortlisted.

ROADWORDS: A LITERARY TOUR OF SOUTHERN TOWNS BY FOUR AWARD-WINNING WRITERS

This looks great! You will get to hear the author of one my top novels from the past year, Tina Makereti — the other writers are tremendous too. I would be there in a shot if I wasn’t all over the place myself. Bravo whoever thought of this, planned it and put it into action. We need more of it.

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Four award-winning authors will read from new work and speak about their passion for writing this October. Calling at Ōamaru, Dunedin, Gore and Te Anau before finishing in Wanaka, the tour will feature informal events to encourage and inspire local readers. Taking part in the tour are Wellington novelist and short story writer, Pip Adam; Dunedin based novelist Laurence Fearnley; Kāpiti fiction and non-fiction writer, Tina Makereti; and Kāpiti fiction writer Lawrence Patchett.

The tour hopes to encourage the experience of high-quality literature in southern communities that are sometimes excluded from major literary festivals and events. As Laurence Fearnley notes: ‘Distance and cost can make it difficult for people from smaller communities to access literary festivals in urban centres like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. As writers we want to be proactive, tour the south and introduce audiences to new and exciting work.’

‘By holding free events in libraries and public galleries, we hope to create an informal atmosphere where readers and writers from all age-groups and backgrounds can not only hear our work being read but engage in open and stimulating dialogue about the writing process and what it means to be a writer in Aotearoa/New Zealand today.’

The authors met while completing PhDs in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, in Wellington. ‘The course was supervised by Bill Manhire — a poet with strong Southland connections — so in a way there is a nice symmetry in being able to acknowledge his support and influence on our careers by bringing our work down south.’

All events are free and made possible through the support of Creative New Zealand.

South Island towns.

 

For more information, please contact:

Laurence Fearnley, (mobile) 021 212 3235

pounamu@gmail.com

http://roadwordsblog.wordpress.com/

 

Roadwords Tour dates:

Oamaru Public Library, Thursday 2nd October – 6pm

Dunedin Public Library, Friday 3rd October – 6pm

Eastern Southland Art Gallery, Gore, Saturday 4th October – 4.30pm

Te Anau Public Library, Sunday 5th October – 2pm.

Wanaka Public Library, Tuesday 7th October – 7pm

 

About the Writers

Pip Adam is author of Everything We Hoped For (VUP) and I’m Working on a Building (VUP) and has received the 2011 NZSA Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book of Fiction and an Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award in 2012. She teaches creative writing at the IIML and Arohata Women’s Prison and is writing a new novel about the ocean.

Laurence Fearnley is a novelist and non-fiction writer. In 2011 she won the fiction category in the NZ Post New Zealand Book Awards for her novel, The Hut Builder. Her novel, Edwin and Matilda was runner-up in the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Her latest novel Reach will be published by Penguin in late September.

Tina Makereti is the author of Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa and Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story in English, and the RSNZ Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (non-fiction). In 2011 she received the Ngā Kupu Ora Award for Fiction. She is currently the CNZ Randell Cottage Writer in Residence.

Lawrence Patchett is the author of the short-story collection I Got His Blood On Me: Frontier Tales, which was awarded the 2013 NZSA Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book of Fiction. In 2014 he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Todd New Writer’s Bursary, and is currently writing a dystopian adventure novel.

Roadworks: A Literary Tour of Southern Towns by Four Award-Winning Writers

This looks great!  You will get to hear the author of one my favourite novels of the past year (Tina Makereti). The others are equally tremendous!

9781775535188   9781775535188   9781775535188

 

Four award-winning authors will read from new work and speak about their passion for writing this October. Calling at Ōamaru, Dunedin, Gore and Te Anau before finishing in Wanaka, the tour will feature informal events to encourage and inspire local readers. Taking part in the tour are Wellington novelist and short story writer, Pip Adam; Dunedin based novelist Laurence Fearnley; Kāpiti fiction and non-fiction writer, Tina Makereti; and Kāpiti fiction writer Lawrence Patchett.

The tour hopes to encourage the experience of high-quality literature in southern communities that are sometimes excluded from major literary festivals and events. As Laurence Fearnley notes: ‘Distance and cost can make it difficult for people from smaller communities to access literary festivals in urban centres like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. As writers we want to be proactive, tour the south and introduce audiences to new and exciting work.’

 

‘By holding free events in libraries and public galleries, we hope to create an informal atmosphere where readers and writers from all age-groups and backgrounds can not only hear our work being read but engage in open and stimulating dialogue about the writing process and what it means to be a writer in Aotearoa/New Zealand today.’

 

The authors met while completing PhDs in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, in Wellington. ‘The course was supervised by Bill Manhire — a poet with strong Southland connections — so in a way there is a nice symmetry in being able to acknowledge his support and influence on our careers by bringing our work down south.’

 

All events are free and made possible through the support of Creative New Zealand.

 

Attached Photo: North Island writers Tina Makereti, Pip Adam, and Lawrence Patchett will join Laurence Fearnley on a tour of South Island towns.

 

For more information, please contact:

Laurence Fearnley, (mobile) 021 212 3235

  1. pounamu@gmail.com

http://roadwordsblog.wordpress.com/

Roadwords Tour dates:

Oamaru Public Library, Thursday 2nd October – 6pm

Dunedin Public Library, Friday 3rd October – 6pm

Eastern Southland Art Gallery, Gore, Saturday 4th October – 4.30pm

Te Anau Public Library, Sunday 5th October – 2pm.

Wanaka Public Library, Tuesday 7th October – 7pm

 

About the Writers

Pip Adam is author of Everything We Hoped For (VUP) and I’m Working on a Building (VUP) and has received the 2011 NZSA Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book of Fiction and an Arts Foundation of New Zealand New Generation Award in 2012. She teaches creative writing at the IIML and Arohata Women’s Prison and is writing a new novel about the ocean.

 

Laurence Fearnley is a novelist and non-fiction writer. In 2011 she won the fiction category in the NZ Post New Zealand Book Awards for her novel, The Hut Builder. Her novel, Edwin and Matilda was runner-up in the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Her latest novel Reach will be published by Penguin in late September.

 

Tina Makereti is the author of Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa and Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story in English, and the RSNZ Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (non-fiction). In 2011 she received the Ngā Kupu Ora Award for Fiction. She is currently the CNZ Randell Cottage Writer in Residence.

 

Lawrence Patchett is the author of the short-story collection I Got His Blood On Me: Frontier Tales, which was awarded the 2013 NZSA Hubert Church Prize for Best First Book of Fiction. In 2014 he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Todd New Writer’s Bursary, and is currently writing a dystopian adventure novel.