Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eleanor Catton in Wellington and beyond

The extraordinary writer Eleanor Catton has done what few (only two?) New Zealanders have done before. At the tender age of 27 she has a novel on the Booker longlist: The Luminaries. And we in Wellington can see and hear this author at her book launch next Saturday 5 pm at Unity Books and at a Modern Letters' Writers on Monday event 5 August 12.15 at Te Papa.

I'm not surprised to hear of Eleanor Catton's success. She is a singular talent. Four years ago I reviewed her first novel The Rehearsal  in a blog post entitled Catton among the pigeons and, lost in a strange metaphor of my own making, said:

"This terribly-young author is already a cat-like phenomenon in the Big Book Square of the World with its greening statues of the famous and host of perching pigeons. She's won Best First Novel here and a similar award in the UK, and is lined up for more. The book reviewers and writers' festivals love her. One UK reviewer picked The Rehearsal as the future face of the novel."

There's a great write-up of Eleanor Catton's recent success by Robert Sullivan on the MIT website here where she teaches and a brief TV interview here.  I'm looking forward to reading The Luminaries - at 800+ pages I will need to put some significant time aside.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Tassel by Saradha Koirala

The action of giving turns out
to be a gesture for making a deal
the promise of discount, save or Be Saved.
I gather what I can
listen for insights from passing chatter
squint the world into a spin.
An elderly couple walk side by side
a tassel of her shawl caught in his cufflink
well-dressed for this time of day.
I roll the image between finger and thumb:

the cufflinks, the shawl the slow pace of their walk
spin the world into a gilded string.

This poem is from Saradha's new collection Tear Water Tea out soon. It has the most beautiful cover designed by her partner and is published by Steele Roberts. I love Saradha's images that are both delicate and strong, like this one. Who would have thought a tassel would have had so much life in it! I am caught up in my family history at the moment -- working on my mother's memoir -- and so perfect images like the one above: the tassel caught in his cufflink, resonate. And I always like a fairytale reference. 

Please go to the Tuesday Poem hub to read another excellent Saradha poem posted by Harvey Molloy which touches me, a one-time immigrant, in different ways. His write-up is a thousand times more interesting and insightful than mine and worth every second of the time you spend on it.

Happy reading!

Tassel is published with permission. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Alice the Camel

Alice wakes up one morning. Her lover sings to her: Alice the
Camel has two humps. It's an action song.

Short and sweet today - one of the gems from The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider by Janis Freegard, another Tuesday Poet. The chapbook is published by Anomalous Press in the US, and I have one, and I treasure it. It's the size of a hand and the prose poems are long and short and will make you smile and nod and shake your head a lot. Janis is launching it in NZ soon.  Watch this space.  Do head over to the TP hub where there's a wonderful wonderful poem A GARAGE by an Australian poet called Robert Gray.