I'm more than a little excited to announce that my first book, a collection of thirteen linked stories, is going to be published by Titus Books on 27 November at a dual book launch with poet Scott Hamilton at Objectspace. Click on the image above to see a larger version. Here is the media release for the event:
We invite Aucklanders to vote for literature on Sunday the 27th of November, by attending the launch of two new Titus Books: Scott Hamilton's Feeding the Gods and Bronwyn Lloyd's The Second Location.
Scott Hamilton is a widely published social scientist, and has a long history as a political commentator and activist. In Feeding the Gods, his Creative New Zealand-funded second volume of poetry, Hamilton draws on his involvement in a number of political and cultural controversies, like the ultimately successful battle to remove Vanda Vitali from her position as Director of Auckland museum, the movement against the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq last decade, campaigns against the desecration of Maori sacred sites and history, and the battle against this country's Holocaust deniers. Hamilton also writes about more personal subjects, like the suicides of a number of his schoolmates at South Auckland's Rosehill College in the 1990s, his travels through the backblocks of New Zealand, the Outback of Australia, and Western Polynesia, and the bizarre dreams which the prescription drugs he must take give him.
Hamilton's poems may deal with many topical issues, but they do not feature easy judgements or political sloganeering. Hamilton is fascinated by history and by geography, and many of his poems create an unusual perspective on contemporary problems by dissolving the boundaries between the past and the present, the near and the far. In Hamilton's poems historical figures like Hongi Hika and Karl Marx wander contemporary Australasia, the Outback fills with water, Ulysses cruises the South Pacific, and Maoist guerrillas quote postmodern poetry.
Bronwyn Lloyd has published extensively on New Zealand Art, Craft and Design and is known for her careful reconstructions of the lives of Kiwi painter Rita Angus and composer Douglas Lilburn, and for the beautiful art books she produces for Pania Press. The short stories in Lloyd's The Second Location have the insights into the subtleties of human relationships which made her scholarship valuable, and the attention to detail which distinguished her work for Pania Press. Under Lloyd's intense but not unsympathetic gaze, even small events like a civil servant's filing error or a visit to the beach become filled with significance. Lloyd's work shows us that the lives we live in our homes and in our minds can be far more dramatic than anything we see on television, and that the daily choices we make as friends and as family members can be as fateful as the doings of politicians or corporate executives.
In their different ways, Hamilton's and Lloyd's books show the continuing vitality of literature in the second decade of the twenty-first century. They are, in Ezra Pound's words, news that stays news. Titus Books is proud to ask you to vote for literature on the 27th of November.
Feeding the Gods and The Second Location will be launched at
Objectspace, 8 Ponsonby Road Auckland
Sunday 27 November, 3-5pm.
The MC for the event is Auckland poet and academic, Jack Ross
Special guests Michele Leggott and Paul Janman will introduce Lloyd and Hamilton respectively
Refreshments and home-baked food will be served
A range of Titus titles will be available to purchase for Christmas presents.
The striking cover image I chose for my book comes from a series of untitled collages produced by Auckland artist Graham Fletcher in 2009 while completing a Doctorate of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. The act of concealing familiar portraits of members of the Royal family using a combination of masks and post-it notes, has resulted in a series of works that might best be described as ‘abducted’ rather than appropriated images.
The book cover was beautifully designed by Auckland artist, Ellen Portch.
I thought you might like to see some of the other collages in the series. Any ardent Royalists among you should look away now!
And just to finish off, here's one of the stories from the collection. It's a very short one.
I hope to see you at the book launch, but if you can't make it, you are very welcome to place an order for the book here
"What does your cancer look like?" I asked Kelsey from my bed on the opposite side of the ward. "It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I've always imagined it as a shadow, something like the slow moving darkness in The Neverending Story."
Kelsey seemed unphased by the directness of my question.
"Do you know what Kaikuia is?" she asked.
"It's like that. Cancer is a creeper just like Kaikuia, only inside your body. It spreads across the space, and strangles the life out of everything it comes across, until it has taken over all the available room in your body. The small amount of energy I have now is all that the cancer gives me because it needs the rest in order to survive and spread. When I have no more energy left, I will die, and so will the cancer."
“Sometimes you don't notice the Kaikuia is there,” Kelsey told me later, “until it is too late.”
That night the nurse dosed us with our bedtime meds and drew the circular curtain around each of the beds in the ward. I lay on my back and tried to locate the repeat in the floral pattern on the pale blue cloth, backlit by the fluorescent light in the hallway. It comforts me to work out where a design begins and ends, but on this occasion I couldn’t because the line-drawn flowers were too abstract and too numerous. They mutated into each other and spread across the whole of the fabric cell that contained me.
I turned my attention instead to the noise of ragged breathing, and bodies stirring on plastic covered mattresses, the outward evidence of internal battles being fought, and I thought about Kaikuia and endings. Just before the morphine took me under, I reached for a pencil in the set of drawers next to my bed, and on the back of a piece of gift wrap with a silver and black paisley design, I scrawled this list:
A Question of Faith
Caravaggio and a knife
Caravaggio and a knife
a missing Camper, 38
bats in trees
This list won’t mean anything to anyone who reads it, but it is the Kaikuia that I should have noticed, but didn’t – a marriage almost out of breath.