A couple of events for Poetry Day week 2019

Super quick post, just to (somewhat belatedly) draw attention to some events happening in Christchurch during the week of Poetry Day this year. (I know, but what else can I call it?)

Quite apart from the vast number of poetry competitions being held across New Zealand (including takahē magazine’s Hunt Ducker comp, the Given Words comp, and the Radio NZ/ Jessie Mulligan Write-a-poem-in-fifty-minutes-using-these-six-words comp – scroll down the list on the NPD website, it’s under the heading Radio NZ Needs You!), there are three events in Christchurch that I’m at least somewhat involved in. All free!

First, at 5.30 pm on Tuesday 20th August, I’ll be launching James Norcliffe’s latest poetry collection, Deadpan, at Scorpio Books. It’s gorgeous, it really is. A wonderful mix of madness with … well, madness. James has always specialised in poems that are quite strange and funny, but which also make serious points underneath the silliness. Laceratingly so, at times. And he also writes poems that are just beautiful and moving – some of my absolute favourite NZ love poems are his. Intelligent and articulate and moving and funny …  I’m hoping to persuade him to read the entire Yorick sequence at the launch, but we will have to see. Some poem titles, to give you a sense of things: how about Yorick has a problem with personal freshness? Or Pursued by crabs? Or Naughty boys’ island? How can you resist poems with titles like those? Or a poem called Underwear, which begins Deep in the forest the priests / and the secret police are on patrol …

The next event is two days later, at 6 pm to 7.30 pm on Thursday 22nd August at Tūranga: Four Readings and a Festival. The blurb sums it up rather well – “Four Christchurch poets talk fame, fortune, first books and what possessed them to do it. Reading from their newborn collections are Erik Kennedy (There’s No Place Like the Internet In Springtime), Victoria Broome (How We Talk to Each Other), Gail Ingram (Contents Under Pressure) and Marisa Cappetta (How to Tour the World on a Flying Fox).” A wee tweak to the standard poetry reading format, with each of us being the proud and exhausted authors of first collections (Victoria and Gail this year, Erik last year, Marissa a few years earlier, and me shortly after the invention of the printing press). So along with reading from said fine literary works, I’ll be asking them questions about How It Feels To Be a Real Author, where they find inspiration, how they go about Committing An Act of Literature (to borrow Billy Collins’ phrase), what terrifies them about writing, and whatever else occurs to me in the course of our conversation. I think the plan is to have copies available for people to buy should they so desire, so that’s another reason to toddle along. And then there’s the poster, designed by the inimitable Rata Ingram:

Lastly, and actually taking place on Poetry Day itself (Friday 23rd August) is Poetry in Our Tūranga – over 40 local poets and writers reading poetry for thirty minutes every hour from midday until 6.30 pm. The event will be kicked off by the Mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, and emceed by David Gregory and John Allison. So if you’re in town at some point that day, wander across to the library and have a listen. It’s going to be amazing, with a really superb roster of readers. 

So there you have it. Not just Poetry Day, but an entire week of poetry events. And that’s just the ones on my calendar!

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