18 February 2008

What I did on my holiday, or, poetry people in Auckland

I’ve just come back from a most successful trip to Auckland.

The reason we went up was to see PJ Harvey in concert, but the main thing that made the trip special was the poetry people we met and/or caught up with.

We spent some lovely time catching up and talking about writing with Siobhan Harvey (writer, reviewer and editor of JAAM 25).

Then later on Tuesday we went along to Poetry Live. There I met one of the organisers, the lovely Miriam Barr (poet and editor of Sidestream, among other things), who I’ve been corresponding with over the last few months. Miriam very kindly gave me a copy of her book Observations from the Poetry Factory (thanks!), which I’m looking forward to reading (and listening to - there's a CD included). I also met some of the other regulars and had a generally great night.

Their format is to have a guest musician, a guest poet and an open reading. The guest musician was Ishle Yi Park, a Korean–American singer/songwriter/poet, who performed some beautiful and moving songs.

The guest poet was Vivienne Plumb. I always enjoy hearing her read – her poems are great and she knows how to perform them. She read quite a few new poems that I hadn’t heard before, including some about Poland and some from her new chapbook From Darkness to Light: Poems about the Kerikeri Mission House, which I’m also looking forward to reading.

If you’re in Auckland, I really recommend going along to Poetry Live. They’re a friendly bunch, and it’s on every week (!) on Tuesdays at 8 pm, at the Classic Studio, 321 Queen Street.

I’m delighted to have been asked to be guest reader on the 14th of October and, I’m told, the guest musician will be Anna Rugis (who is also a poet).

Several people had mentioned to me that there was a poet in Auckland, called Michael Steven, who published hand-bound books. I was hoping to get to see them, and someone told me that he worked at the Ponsonby Hard-to-Find second-hand bookshop. So I kept my eyes out for him when we popped in there on our epic Valentine’s Day Second-Hand Bookshop Trawl (first annual, I hope), but it was actually in the Onehunga store (probably the best second-hand bookshop in the whole country) that I discovered him – or rather he discovered me rifling through several large piles of poetry books. We got to chatting about poetry and publishing and we’re going to do a book swap, and hopefully keep in touch – or at least read each other’s blogs (his is here).

Oh, and PJ was amazing! She played so many different styles of music, but it all worked together beautifully. She makes a lot of noise for one smallish person. I hope she comes back again soon, and hopefully to a different venue. The Civic is a beautiful theatre, but it was rather frustrating sitting in those seats where you can’t even tap your foot in time to the music without annoying everyone in your row. And her music makes me want to dance.


Tim Jones said...

It sounds like a great trip! And makes me realise that I know next to nothing about the poetry scene in Auckland, which I must remedy - I'm still a South Islander at heart, you see.

Helen Rickerby said...

Yeah, in many ways it is much more active than here in Welly. Time to lift your sights northward, Tim, and make some Auckland connections. There's lots going on up there!