Monday, 3 August 2015

August newsletter

 Three new releases in August

James K. Baxter: Complete Prose has been a long labour of love for its editor Dr John Weir. He began the project back in 1965 when he produced a bibliography of Baxter’s poetry and prose. Through a shared interest in literature and religion, he and Baxter became close friends and confidants. Although primarily known as a poet, Baxter was a prolific prose writer, very little of which was previously published in book form.

Dr Weir says the prose tells the reader much about Baxter as a person.

“The quality which he regarded as most essential in writing was honesty. He doesn’t gild the lily. So his prose tells us that he was an honest man, a conflicted man, a man who felt a compulsive obligation to help people who were being trodden underfoot by the industrial, political and social juggernaut of our times. And it reveals that his preferences and prejudices were lifelong – the opinions and values which he held as a young man in his late teens and twenties weren’t greatly different (though less urgently expressed) than those he held late in life.”

A seminar and launch for James K. Baxter: Complete Prose will be held at Te Taratara ā Kae in the Kelburn campus library at Victoria University on Saturday 29 August. Seminar speakers include Dr John Weir, Dr Paul Millar, Colin Durning, Eli Kent and John Baxter. Dave Dobbyn will perform Baxter's "Song of the Years" at the launch. All welcome to attend but RSVP is essential.

James K. Baxter: Complete Prose
4 hardback volumes in a box set, $200rrp
Available in good bookshops and through our online bookstore from 13 August.

Two new novellas by Tim Corballis, R.H.I., combine historical research with fiction, blurring and refocusing our ways of seeing the past. Joan Riviere was an early English psychoanalyst and Sigmund Freud’s earliest translator. Hermann Henselmann was a German architect, famous for many of the post-war buildings of the German Democratic Republic. The two novellas about their lives form an incomplete history of Europe’s 20th century – its wars, its politics and thought.

Tim says that the novellas offered him a chance to reflect on the idea of history, a way to mess with simple historical interpretation.

"Historians can be wonderful synthesisers of huge amounts of facts – but what’s interesting to me in these novellas is the possibility of letting facts remains unsynthesised, unshaped, stubborn, confusing. Maybe that can be called fiction too – though it’s a very different sense of the word. I hope it can open up the possibility that a life doesn’t need to be narrated to be valuable, to be enjoyable – that different things can be made out of a life than the stories we’re used to. Something like that, anyway."

Tim will present a brief moving image presentation about the novellas on Wednesday 19 August, 5.30pm–7pm at Concerned Citizens Collective, 17 Tory Street, Wellington. All welcome.

R.H.I. will be available at good bookshops and through our online bookstore from 13 August.
$30, p/b.

Joan Fleming's remarkable second poetry collection, Failed Love Poems, is a book of fiction and slant autobiography. You can read the first poem in the book, "Traces", on our blog here, and where she also discusses the provenance of this poem. She also talks about the choice of the striking Kushana Bush illustration which is featured on the cover, which Joan said she thought of immediately as the perfect cover image.

"The details are both delicate and visceral. The lovers are touching tenderly, but there is something between them, keeping them apart. In a way, the entire book is about that ‘something’ – the sometimes unspeakable, sometimes unseen thing between lovers that keeps them from happiness."

"There is joy in the book too, though. I don’t believe in 'failed love' as a failure, not really. The relationships that don't last can teach us as much as the ones that do."

Failed Love Poems is released on August 13.

You can hear Joan reading on Poetry Day at Unity Books, Wellington, Friday 28 August, 12pm–1pm.

Reviews, news and podcasts

Rachel Barrowman's Maurice Gee: Life and Work has received some wonderful reviews, most recently this one in the Stuff book section. Damien Wilkins' launch speech and a note from Maurice Gee can be read on our blog here. Rachel was interviewed with Kim Hill on July 25 and you can listen to that podcast here.

We are offering free international shipping on Gee biography purchases on our website. Enter 'Gee' in the coupon code field at the checkout.

"Reading Morgan’s debut is utterly rewarding as it sets every part of your readerly self on high alert, every bit paying attention to the pulse of the poem." Paula Green reviews Some of Us Eat the Seeds by Morgan Bach.

We are delighted to hear that Anna Smaill's debut novel, The Chimes, made the 2015 Man Booker Prize longlist. Anna's debut poetry collection, The Violinist in Spring, was published by VUP in 2005.

NZ History Seminars are a rich resource for listeners interested in an enormous variety of topics. One of the most recent features Grant Morris on James Prendergast, an infamous figure in New Zealand's legal history.

The Arts Foundation podcasts on the RNZ also feature a number of VUP writers – this one features Bill Manhire, Geoff Cochrane, composer Ross Harris and film maker Louis Sutherland. Listen here.

Fiction writer Pip Adam is now reviewing books on the new Jessie Mulligan 1–4pm show on Radio New Zealand.

Ashleigh Young asked some writers and artists about criticism of their work on her blog here.

Events in August

Writers on Mondays
All sessions take place at Te Papa Marae, 12.15pm–1.15pm

3 August: Anna Smaill and Tim Corballis
17 August: David Coventry and Hamish Clayton
29 August: Best NZ Poems 2014

Book launch
R.H.I. by Tim Corballis
5.30pm–7pm, Wednesday 19 August
Concerned Citizens Collective, 17 Tory St, Wellington.

Auckland library event
An Hour with Helen Riddiford, author of A Blighted Fame.
Helen will discuss her biography which traces the life and extraordinary career of George Samuel Evans. Wednesday 19 August, 6pm at the Leys Institute Library, 20 St Marys Road, Ponsonby, Auckland. Gold coin donation, light refreshments provided.
RSVP: (09) 8908755.

National Poetry Day
Friday 28 August
Vic Books, 10am–11.30am: Poetry reading including Ashleigh Young, Anna Jackson, Jane Arthur, Harry Ricketts, Cliff Fell, Faith Wilson and more.

Unity Books, 12pm–1pm: Poetry reading includes Joan Fleming, Geoff Cochrane, Anna Jackson, Nina Powles, Helen Rickerby and Chris Tse.

More information about Poetry Day here

Seminar and launch
James K. Baxter: Complete Prose
Saturday 29 August, seminar: 3.15pm-4.45pm
launch: 5pm-7pm
RSVP essential to attend the seminar and launch

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