I've spent much of the last two days in Wellington thinking about and trying to get in touch with people who live in Christchurch in the wake of Tuesday lunchtime's severe earthquake and the extensive death and destruction it has caused. There are many writer friends whose whereabouts and welfare has only gradually become known - and all the news I have had so far about these friends has been good, at least when it comes to their safety.
Most of my effort has gone into trying to find my Dad and step-mum, in collaboration with my step-sisters. With landlines down, it's been a trek across multiple media to find them, but I was finally able to talk with them at 10pm on Wednesday. It is such a relief to hear that they are OK, that they have got off relatively lightly so far, and that they have been able to help less fortunate neighbours.
But that doesn't lessen my sadness at the devastation elsewhere in the city. No poems have come to mind in the wake of the earthquake, but rather a song. Bruce Springsteen wrote it in 2000 about the decline of his old stamping ground of Asbury Park, New Jersey, but it subsequently became associated with the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on New York. Song lyrics don't often stand up by themselves, but I think these ones do. The song begins:
There is a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And the rain is falling down
The church door's thrown open
I can hear the organ's song
But the congregation's gone
You can read the rest here: http://brucespringsteen.net/songs/MyCityOfRuins.html
Though I can scarcely claim Christchurch to be "my" city of ruins, it was the first place my family lived when we moved to New Zealand.
My hopes, thoughts and prayers continue to be with the residents of Christchurch and the surroundings towns, and those who are helping them.
UPDATE: This is reposted from Anna Caro's blog and Cassie Hart's blog:
Tales For Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand, and the wider Canterbury region, was rocked yesterday (22.2.11) by another round of serious earthquakes. This time they struck during the middle of the day causing more devastation, and loss of life, to a city still trying to pick up the pieces from last September’s quakes.
In an attempt to do something, anything, to make a difference, we are putting together an anthology of short stories loosely themed around survival, hope and the future. All profits of this anthology will be donated to the Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, or another registered charity aimed at aiding those in need in Canterbury.
The purpose of this Anthology is two-fold—to help financially, but also, we hope, to provide entertainment and alleviation in a time of crisis. We hope that our words will help make a difference.
We have already begun to approach authors, and the response is encouraging. Mainly due to time pressures, this anthology will be by invitation. However, if you are an established writer, and keen to contribute, please feel free to get in touch with us at just.cassie.hart (at) gmail.com. We are looking for stories between 1,500 and 5,000 words, of fairly upbeat nature in the general, literary, science fiction or fantasy genres.
Feel free to repost this and get the word out!
The anthology has now closed to unsolicited contributions, and it has a website for more information: Tales For Canterbury.