Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Missing Hat

                  for Harriet  26 8 93–7 5 14

Audacious to think I taste that kind of sorrow. My missing
of you is simply on our steps in Ghuznee Street: you in a shiny, 
red coat, wanting to know where to go to get a hook-and-eye 
 fixed on your dress, delighted to be 
taken up Cuba to the small shop that’s shut now, the one with 
the blackboard and the mysterious seamstress. I'd have done 
it for you if I’d had needle and thread, but instead I left you 
                                     by the blackboard – and we hugged 
and your coat squeaked, your skin up close impossibly creamy. 
I think too of watching you talk that day, when you gave time 
without weighing it, the tracings your fingers made, mouth
                         so mobile, your face a place people
lingered. The way you said to a wedge of brownie on a plate: 
‘Perfect!’ and regarded it with such plain affection. Small ruins 
for me. For the brother they call Gramps, the weeping father, 
                                     the stoic mother, Grandma Jo, the rest –
Mac in his kilt, girls in scarlet lippy and pineapple pants, boys 
with three-day beards and skinny ties – for them this missing 
is a shattered city: lost spires, gutted high-rises, lights stuck 
                                    on amber, paper caught in chicken-
wire, the howl as wind claws the perimeter fence. 

Mary McCallum

Hat and puppy.
Photo credit: Rebekah Dorman
Harriet Rowland would have been 21 today. The lively, gorgeous Wellington student passed away on 7 March this year.

We at Mākaro Press published the blogs she wrote over the nearly three years she lived with cancer – it's called The Book of Hat and it's been a surprise hit: on bestseller lists, bought by students and grandparents, by bookclubs and classrooms, and runner-up in the Ashton Wylie award between Lloyd Geering and Joy Cowley. 

So many people have responded to Harriet's vivid, upbeat and compassionate voice. It's been called 'the real The Fault in Our Stars' but it's more than that... there's something singularly Hattie about the book, that spills out in the reading, and doesn't leave you. Peter Jackson's called it, 'truthful, funny and wise'. All of that. Just – Hat. 

And now it's going global! The Book of Hat is an ebook -- launched today, something we've achieved working with Rosa Mira Books in Dunedin. And we're also off today on our third roadshow around Wellington secondary schools distributing Hat's book – donations from generous reader Bridget Percy, who reckoned every school should have a copy. 

All great ways to celebrate the wonderful woman Harriet Rowland was, on what would have been her 21st birthday. And goodness would she have partied! 

Do check out the Tuesday poem for a host of other poems. 


TK Roxborogh said...

Painful, stinging tears from the reading

Unknown said...

Plum...I have tears in my eyes. Such a beautiful poem. I never met Harriet, but through you I feel her alive
warmth and i know she will be sorely missed by so many

Michelle Elvy said...

Such a wonderful tribute to this poet and individual.

"when you gave time
without weighing it..."

Hits me in the heart, Mary.

Harvey Molloy said...

A wonderful post. So many students have responded to Hat's book.