I haven’t been meaning to be so coy about announcing this, but I’ve just been so busy. Alongside JAAM 28, I’ve also been working on Crumple for several months.
I’m really excited about this book. Of course I get really excited about all the books I publish, because I only publish books I love. And also I’m a big fan of Vivienne’s work. But this book also has come along at a time when the theme/story of it – at least in my interpretation of it – was exactly where I was at at the time.
I’ve been agonising this weekend over writing a blurb for Crumple, trying to make it evocative, without being an English-101 interpretation of the collection. But basically, for me, this book is a journey between ‘crumple is a word / I refuse to acknowledge’ ('crumple') to ‘Best not to endure life / in the shallows, better to dive deep –’, ('Forty-League Boots'); a journey which takes us all around the world – to Poland, China, Australia, Italy, and then back home to New Zealand. But is New Zealand home, or where in New Zealand is home? There is never a sense of settling, we roam up and down the country, we get lost in Kiwi icons which turn surreal, almost nightmarish. But no, there is a sense of settling, in the end. Home isn’t any one place, it is people, and it is life, and actually, it’s also people we’ve loved who are no longer alive.
Crumple is a serious book, but it wouldn’t be Vivienne Plumb’s if it wasn’t also frequently very funny. Her humour is quirky, deadpan, sharp. She has a way of skewering the ridiculous in the everyday, but also the beautiful and miraculous in the everyday.
This is the cover, or, at least, it is the cover as it is at the moment. I’m forever making teeny little adjustments to it, but it’s almost there I think. The image is a photograph I took (and only slightly photoshopped for emphasis) of the hearts on the fence in Vivian Street, Wellington, where the service station used to be. It’s been an ugly, fenced wasteland for a while now, but every time I walk past it and see the hearts on the fence, it makes me smile. The hearts were made by OutdoorKnit guerrilla knitters. I love them. I feel that by making beautiful things like this they’re giving everyone a big hug. There is so much ugliness, sometimes especially in cities, and it’s wonderful to make something colourful and beautiful. These hearts, and also the ‘It will all be OK/You are doing ok’ message on Buckle Street, were a source of comfort for me during Sean’s health ‘thing’ this winter (and they were right - it's all clear now). I felt that what they were saying in wool form has resonance with what Vivienne was doing in poetic words.
If you don't know Vivienne's work, there is a lot to catch up on. She's published six previous books of poetry - ranging from full-length collections: Salamanca and Nefarious, to various smaller volumes and one mini (Doppleganger, with Adam Wiedemann). I published Scarab: a poetic documentary, a hand-bound chap book which traced the illness and death of her son from cancer, back in 2005. (I have a small number of copies left if you want one - let me know.) She has also published a collection of short stories, a novel (Secret City) and a novella, and has written and published several plays. Phew! You can read more about her here, should you wish to continue to be amazed: http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/plumbviv.html.
We’re going to be launching Crumple in Wellington on Saturday 20th November (afternoon) and in Auckland on Wednesday 24th November (evening), so if you’re in or near either of those places I hope you’ll be able to come and celebrate with us. More details about that soon.
And it’s not long now, so best I finish up everything with this book and get it to the printers as soon as possible!