25 September 2015

I'm Reading Poetry At Wellington Public Library on Wednesday 30 September, 6pm

IP, who have published my recent poetry collection Men Briefly Explained and the two poetry anthologies I've co-edited, Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (with Mark Pirie) and The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry (with P. S. Cottier), are touring Jeremy Robert's new poetry collection Cards on the Table around New Zealand.

There are three stops on the tour, and I'll be reading at the Wellington stop - next Wednesday, 6pm, at Wellington Central Library.

In Christchurch, Dr David Reiter of IP and Jeremy Roberts will be joined by Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas, while in Auckland, the reading will take place at Poetry Live.

In Wellington, David and Jeremy will be joined by Wellington poets published by IP: Mark Pirie, Keith Westwater and myself.

The schedule is:

28 September: Poetry Live, Auckland, Thirsty Dog Café, 469 Karangahape Rd, 8:30pm. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1497595977226709/

30 September: Wellington Library, 65 Victoria Street, 6pm. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1633555860235889/

1 October: Lyttleton, Freemans Dining Room, 47 London Street, 7pm, with Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1495745650745935/

22 September 2015

Tuesday Poem: When You're Not Here, by Janis Freegard

When you're not here, I paint my nails and my lips black and
wear clothes you've never seen me in. I walk to the bar on the 
corner in high-heeled black boots and a fake leopard-skin coat
and drink tequila sunrises until it rains.

When you're not here, I go to bed in the middle of the afternoon
and read books about love. I listen to music I'm too old for,
smoke cigars and dye my hair Scandinavian blonde. I talk to
strange cats in strange streets.

When you're not here, I stay out all night playing pool with
women I don't know. I wear earrings that glow in the dark and
take taxis everywhere.  I climb to the top of a hill just to pretend
I'm somewhere else.

When you're not here, I watch old Bela Lugosi movies on video. 
I don't do the dishes for days.

When you're not here, I go to parties in a silver lurex miniskirt.
I carry a bottle of schnapps in my coat pocket and talk to men
whose boyfriends don't understand them. I play pinball for
hours at a stretch.

When you're not here, I sit in coffee shops reading Marie Claire
magazines and drinking mochaccinos. I tie a bright red scarf

around my wrist just because it feels good. I buy cooked chicken
from the supermarket and share it with the cat.

I move the furniture and paint the cupboards purple.
I plant lobelias outside my window.
I sing along to the Sex Pistols at 2 o'clock in the morning,
     bugger the neighbours.
I dance with queens and take speed with car converters.
I wait for you to come home.

Credit note: "When You're Not Here" is published in Janis Freegard's new poetry collection The Glass Rooster and is reproduced by permission of the author and of the publisher, Auckland University Press.

About Janis Freegard: Janis lives in Wellington, with an historian and a cat, and works in the public service. Her first full-length poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, was published by Auckland University Press in 2011. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider (Anomalous Press, 2013), and co-author of AUP New Poets 3 (AUP, 2008).

Janis's poetry has appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies in New Zealand and overseas, including Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (Random House, 2014), Best NZ Poems 2012 and Landfall. In 2014 she held the inaugural Ema Saikō Poetry Fellowship at New Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa.

She also writes fiction, is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, and has just published her first novel, The Year of Falling (Mākaro Press, 2015). She blogs at http://janisfreegard.com.

More on The Year of Falling: As well as its print publication through Mākaro Press, The Year of Falling has just been published as an ebook by Rosa Mira Books, and you can read Rosa Mira Books' Q&A with Janis.

Tim says: I recently finished reading The Glass Rooster - and very much enjoyed it. "When You're Not Here", with its lovely mix of yearning and bristling independence, is one of my favourite poems in this excellent collection.

The Tuesday Poem: This week's Tuesday Poem is A Letter To Jim Harrison, by Lindsay Pope.

18 September 2015

Two New Plays By Renee Liang To Open In Wellington

Playwright and Tuesday Poet Renee Liang has two new plays opening in Wellington. I've been to several of Renee's plays and enjoyed them very much - I encourage you to go along to one or both!

The Quiet Room (24 September to 3 October, World Premiere!!, http://www.thequietroomplay.com/) is a drama exploring what happens when a teenager with cancer is given the power to determine her own fate. It's my first 'medical play' and is drawn from my real life interactions with patients. We have partnered with Canteen with their members involved in advising on authenticity, and tickets raise money for Canteen. You may be interested in the Gala night which is a dress-up night at the theatre with extras (wine, QnA etc) with most of the night's proceeds going to Canteen. Also Mary/Mākaro Press is launching a book on Sat 26th at BATS, 5.30: Cancer and all that other shit, by Lauren Wepa - come to the launch, then come to the play!! yay!!

Bubblelands (13-17 October, bubblelands.net) is completely different - a madhouse odd couple tragicomedy with two actors in crazy fish costumes. It explores what happens when a blue cod and a crayfish meet in the fish tank of a Chinese restaurant.

14 September 2015

IP Spring Poetry Season 2015: Wellington, 30 September, 6pm, Wellington Central Library

Presenting an evening of poetry readings hosted by Dr David Reiter of Interactive Publications (Brisbane) with Auckland poet Jeremy Roberts and featuring Wellington poets published by IP: Mark Pirie, Keith Westwater and Tim Jones.

You can join the Facebook event here: 

Watch out for events in other centres too - full schedule is:

28 September: Poetry Live, Auckland, Thirsty Dog Café, 469 Karangahape Rd, 8:30pm
30 September: Wellington Library, 65 Victoria Street, 6pm
1 October: Lyttleton, Freemans Dining Room, 47 London Street, 7pm, with Sugu Pillay and Karen Zelas.

11 September 2015

Preorder "Shortcuts: Track 1" And Win

This fantastic cover, by Christchurch artist K C Bailey, will appear on the paperback anthology Shortcuts: Track 1, from Paper Road Press, which collects the six novellas published this year in their Shortcuts series - including my novella Landfall.

If you pre-order this anthology, you're in with a chance to win - in fact, there are two chances, one for New Zealand entrants, and one for overseas entrants. And here's where to do it:


I think this is great news - both personally, as a number of people have asked me whether or when a print copy of "Landfall" will be available, and for New Zealand publishing as a whole - print isn't dead yet, folks! And I'm really looking forward to reading all the other novellas:

Mika Lee Murray and Piper Mejia
The Last Grant Stone
Bree’s Dinosaur AC Buchanan
Pocket Wife IK Paterson-Harkness
Landfall Tim Jones
The Ghost of Matter Octavia Cade

If you're just too dang-fired impatient to wait for this book, you can still purchase "Landfall" and the other novellas individually via the links above. You can currently buy it for $2.99 on the Kindle and $3.50 on the Kobo.

09 September 2015

Opposed To The Ban On Ted Dawe's "Into The River"? Here's What You Can Do.

I was going to post about some good book news this week, but I'm going to save that for a couple of days and post some bad book news instead.

Earlier this week, the President of the Film and Literature Board of Review, Don Mathieson QC, placed an interim restriction order on Ted Dawe's book "Into the River" which functions as a comprehensive book ban.

This YA novel, a book award winner in 2013, has been the subject of a lengthy battle over its classification and availability in New Zealand. Conservative lobby group Family First applied for the Interim Restriction Order when the previous R14 order was lifted by the Chief Censor. Don Mathieson, who himself has previously argued for an R18 rating on the book, was quick to agree with Family First.

You can read an FAQ about this decision on the Department of Internal Affairs and Office of Film and Literature Classification websites. The Legal Beagle blog of Public Address outlines the important distinction between these two bodies, as well as explaining the background to the interim order, and there's further analysis of the deficiencies of Dr Mathieson's decision on Pundit.

The Interim Restriction Order itself is available as a PDF. Here are some key points about that order from the Department of Internal Affairs FAQ:

What does this mean?

This means that no one in New Zealand can distribute, or exhibit, the book.

How long will the order be in place?

Until the Board makes a further decision. The Board is scheduled to meet in October.

What penalties do people face?

If the order is breached, individuals face a fine of $3,000 and companies of $10,000.

What is the relevant law?

The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993. Section 49 deals with restriction orders.

If I have a copy, am I breaking the law?

No. But you cannot lawfully sell or distribute the book to any other person, or exhibit it.

Can I download an e-text version or buy one from overseas?

Internal Affairs suggests that anyone proposing to do this obtain legal advice, or wait for clarification of the status of the book.

I find these provisions appalling. For the period this order is in force, giving a copy of this book to a friend, or putting it on a library or bookstore shelf, is a criminal offence punishable by a severe fine. Understandably, the societies representing New Zealand booksellers, libraries and authors are very concerned by this move.

As for author Ted Dawe, a teacher in his 60s who is Head of Studies at Taylors College for international students in Auckland ... well, he expresses his feelings about this better than anyone else could.

So if you believe as I do that the head of a Government-appointed authority shouldn't have the right to arbitrarily criminalise the sale, loan, display and potentially import of a widely-praised and award-winning book by a New Zealand author - or even a book which has won none of those accolades - what can you do about it?

Take Action This Thursday

Silent readings of Into The River are being held at lunchtime in Dunedin and Wellington. Come along and show your support. Bring a copy of Into the River if you have one. I don't yet, but if someone hands me one, I'm going to take it.

If you know of actions in other centres, please add them in the comments.

Buy The Book

Another thing you can do is to buy the book (if you can still find it online) and thereby support the author - but be aware that, as per the DIA FAQ above, the legal status of doing so is dubious.

Does Don Mathieson, QC have the right to his personal moral views? Absolutely. Does or should he have the right to impose those personal moral views on the rest of the population by the arbitrary and unwarranted exercise of state power? I don't believe so.