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Archive for March, 2012

Chris Bourke And What Music Used To Be

Writers and Readers 2012
Chris Bourke And What Music Used To Be

Reviewed by Megan Doyle Corcoran

Walking into the Embassy to hear Chris Bourke and Nick Bollinger in conversation, I was immediately hopeful that we’d hear more of the ukulele and scratchy vinyl playing for the audience. No such luck. Still, I couldn’t be disappointed. Because of Chris Bourke, author of Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964, I’ve got something new to imagine in place of the normal, inebriated chaos of Courtenay Place. Now, I can substitute the ghosts of all the musicians who came to record and play at burgeoning recording studios like Tanza (To Assist New Zealand Artists), which, by the way, recorded Blue Smoke in 1948. It was the first record wholly processed in New Zealand. I realize that my new ghosts may not be any less raucous than the crowds generally assembled, and that’s fine. If anything, they’ll add a little flavor.

Bourke and Bollinger are clearly music nerds. They love and live music, and earn their keep in music-writing. Fortunate guys. Chris got his start early. As a fan of Mad Magazine, he wanted to write something comparable. He was 10. It was the height of his devotion to The Beatles. He started his own magazine and called it Seltaeb. He says he liked the way the name looked sort of Latin, but I wonder if it was also a tribute to The Beatles’s backward instrumentation on Revolver. There was no time to ask. Sigh.
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Harry Ricketts: Strange Meetings

Writers and Readers 2012
Harry Ricketts: Strange Meetings

Reviewed by Pip Adam

A couple of years ago I became a little obsessed with Rudyard Kipling. My PhD focuses on the language of structural engineers and Kipling kept coming up as ‘the engineer’s poet’. I bumped into his poem ‘Sons of Martha’ again and again in discussions about the intersection of engineering and imaginative literature.

They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd—they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit—then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
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Why is Theatre Not Dead Yet? Robert Shearman, Dave Armstrong, Ken Duncum

Writers and Readers 2012
Why is Theatre Not Dead Yet?

Reviewed by Bill Nelson

Why is Theatre not dead

THE PLAYERS

Playwright 1: Robert Shearman

Playwright 2: Dave Armstrong

The Devil’s Advocate: Ken Duncum
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Where Were You in 72? Germaine Greer, Sandra Coney and Marilyn Waring

Writers and Readers 2012
Where Were You in 72? Germaine Greer, Sandra Coney and Marilyn Waring

Reviewed by Sarah Lang

It’s no exaggeration to say this panel session on women’s issues was one of those-once-in-a-lifetime moments. It was uproariously funny, incredibly interesting, electrifyingly educational, terrifically thought-provoking – and it ended with a standing ovation from a full house (and the Embassy isn’t a small theatre).

First, I have to admit I wasn’t anywhere in 1972. I didn’t arrive until 1980. So I didn’t know it was a year of landmark steps forward for women – or a year that saw Germaine Greer arrested in Auckland for saying the words “bullshit” and “fuck”. That sparked street demonstrations and social debate, with Greer sacking her assigned lawyer and leading her own defence during her obscenity trial. “She was acquitted on bullshit and convicted on fuck,” deadpanned chair Judy McGregor, whose amusing quips and inspired questions saw her do much more than “stir things up and keep the peace”.
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Time and Memory (and Place)

Writers and Readers 2012
Time and Memory (and Place)

Reviewed by Lynn Davidson

We were only a couple of minutes into the session with Kate Grenville and Alan Hollinghurst when the chair, Linda Olsson, suggested that if time is up for discussion, then place needs to be there too. She was right of course – ‘Nothing happens nowhere’ as Elizabeth Bowen famously said. Both Grenville and Hollinghurst write novels that draw the past onto the page. Both resisted the rather stodgy description ‘historical fiction’. Hollinghurst said, ‘I actually rather hate research’. He said what he finds most effective for getting inside the past is to find an historical detail that is suggestive of the time he is writing about, and he went on give an example of a wonderful elaborate phonograph player he had come across with little doors you could open and look inside, and as he described some of this with his hands you could see him opening the little doors and stepping into the past. Isn’t this the greatest thing that these Writers & Readers Week events offer: to see the writer disappear inside their work and their process. What a gift.
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