06 September 2008

My Iron Spine is go! (or rather, launched)

Yay! My Iron Spine is now well and truly launched.

Despite the vile weather (cold southerly, squalling rain), lots of lovely people turned out to help me celebrate. It all went by in a bit of a flash, but thankt you to everyone who came. It was really special having so many of my friends, family and workmates there. And all the children behaved impeccably, including the really little ones. (I was amazed! Ooh, and I have to tell you that almost-two-year-old Cole, when he was leaving, said ‘Goodbye Helliecat, goodbye booze, goodbye glass’, waving at all three of us. Charming!)

It began in a bit of a panic, because, as always I’m afraid, I was running late, and it was a bit of a rush to get everything ready. My first guests arrived before I’d put on my lipstick! (Bright red of course, and yes indeed, I was wearing mostly red.) After a bit of chatting and book signing, we did the formal speechy stuff, standing (coincidentally) in front of a photograph of a red chair.

My very dear friend, and fellow co-managing editor of JAAM, Clare Needham launched the book with a lovely and supportive speech. She considered how she ought to launch it – whether we should smash a bottle of champagne over it, or launch it on a catapult – but instead we toasted it. Then I thanked a whole bunch of people who had helped me with the book and the launch, and read a few poems. I had, at one rash point, considered reading the whole 11 pages of ‘Empress Elisabeth’, but instead read a selection of shorter poems – ‘Grows on trees’, ‘School project’, ‘Handicrafts with Minnie Dean’ and ‘Kate Sheppard and I go for a ride’ – and the beginning, end, and a little from the middle of ‘Empress Elisabeth’ – a bit more manageable than the whole thing!

More chatting, signing, chatting, cleaning up and then off down to Tulsi for a curry. A great evening.

We had the launch at the Toi Poneke Arts Centre Gallery, which was a really good venue. It has almost-doubled in size since I was last there (when we had a launch for Vivienne Plumb’s Scarab there), and is now an L shape. We were in the midst of Outside Culture, an exhibition of photographs by Angela Blachnitzky of inside furniture outside – couches dragged out onto verandahs, lounge chairs in overgrown back gardens. She thinks this is a peculiarly New Zealand thing to do, and, though I have heard reports to the contrary, it is certainly a very common thing to here (except us – we have outdoor resin chairs inside pretending to be dining chairs).

Anyway, now that the launch(es) is/are over, I’m wondering quite what to do next. While I am already working on poems for the next collection, I’m not done with My Iron Spine – I feel like I want to spend a bit of time introducing it to the world. To this end, I’m going to be guest reader at Poetry Live in Auckland next month (which I’m really looking forward to – they were all such lovely people), and a fellow poet has suggested we could do a reading or two around the place. Any other ideas?…

In the meantime, My Iron Spine should be hitting the shops next month – which means, really, that it will be in the wonderful independent bookshops around New Zealand, and hopefully also on Fishpond. I went into the fabulous Unity Books today – on a post-launch-poetry-book-buying splurge – and when chatting to a member of staff, discovered that she’d recently entered it on their computer system, so I hope it will be in stock soon. I also have a bunch of copies that I’m selling, should you wish to acquire one.


Harvey Molloy said...

It sounds like it went really well, Helen. And thanks for mentioning Fishpond which I hadn't heard of before. Yes, I'll be arranging a reading soon once I've got a few jobs taken care of. Knock 'em dead in Auckland! (Reading 'My Iron Spine' last night I thought of how the book is an iron spine which I open much in the same way that a corset could be opened--the book both covers, contains and can be released or untied). And then there's a recursive element to the cover, an image within an image: see what happens when you read too much French theory in the 80s?

Anonymous said...

Haha, love Harvey's comment :).
Just came over to say Yay!! well done and looking forward to reading a copy.

Tim Jones said...

The launch was lovely, and wow, what a turnout! Clare set a standard for introductory speeches which is going to be hard to match. You read beautifully, and all in all, it was a great occasion.

warmaiden said...

Helen - huzzah! I'm so thrilled for you! (If you get the chance, do shoot me an email at warmaiden - at - gmail - I'd love to get a copy if I can, here in the States.