Picks of the Week 13 Feb
By Scott Hamilton
At this time of year, my social life is dictated by a desire to spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned rooms. It’s fair to say, then, that my plan to attend the poetry reading at Grey Lynn Library on Thursday February the 19th isn’t motivated by exclusively literary considerations. But with Jack Ross, Therese Lloyd, Michael Steven, and Lee Posna on the bill, I’ll be enjoying some excellent poetry that evening, as well as the cool hum of air conditioning.
Jack Ross is one of New Zealand’s foremost literary bloggers as a well as a prolific critic, anthologist, novelist and, of course, poet, and over at The Imaginary Museum he has a detailed preview of what’s in store for the 19th.
One Auckland writer who seems to be thriving on the heat and humidity is Richard Taylor, who has been known for many years now as Panmure’s greatest living postmodernist.
Richard was a mainstay of the Auckland live poetry scene in the nineties and earlier noughties; in recent years, though, he has retreated to the unfashionable East Auckland suburb where he was born and bred, wandering the streets, climbing the damaged cone of the ancient volcanic pa Maungarei, scraping ivy off Victorian graves in obscure cemeteries by the Tamaki River, and incorporating his discoveries into an extraordinary ongoing blog-poem-artpiece called Eyelight. The latest ‘room’ in this vast construction features a photo of a very messianic Richard on the summit of Maungarei. I can’t see a drop of sweat on the man’s face, despite the climb he must have made. The preceding entry on Eyelight is a rich if sometimes rambling memoir of the boozy but highly literate live poetry sessions that Richard helped run at nineties nightspots like Shakespeares Tavern and the Pogue Mahone.
If you think you’re feeling hot in the Land of the Long White Cloud, spare a thought for senior Kiwi writer Martin Edmond, who is sweltering in exile in Sydney. Edmond has published a string of elegant, elusive exercises in ‘fictional non-fiction’ over the past decade and a half, including the 2006 volume Luca Antara, which fuses accounts of the underbelly of Sydney life in the 1980s with colourful but grim biographies of the first Europeans to reach the northern coasts of Australia.
Edmond maintains a blog named Luca Antara , which elaborates on many of the themes in his book. His latest blog entry records a dream-like journey through the heat of provincial New South Wales, a journey which is haunted by the knowledge of the fires blazing south of the Murray River. John Key’s government has said that it wants to attract gifted Kiwi emigrants home. I hope it starts by offering Edmond a generous lifetime stipend, a home in Ohakune, and free air conditioning.