Blog Archives

Mystery, wisdom and complication, Gregory O’Brien

The Lives of Coat Hangers Sudesh Mishra University of Otago Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781927322376 “A thing is a hole in a thing it is not.” I was reminded of American sculptor Carl Andre’s words, as I read Sudesh Mishra’s remarkable

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Obituary — Campbell Smith

The world a stage

Gregory O’Brien recalls the life and work of artist and writer Campbell Smith (1925-2015)

The last time I saw Campbell Smith was in June a year ago. Friends from around the country had gathered at Hamilton’s Meteor Theatre to celebrate his life’s work and watch a performance of his play, Ida and I (aka Quite a Woman), a doco-drama – if such a thing can exist onstage – about the Waikato painter and arts-advocate, Ida Carey. It was both a glorious and a traumatic occasion.

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Reading, writing and arithmetic, Barbara Else

Speed of Light
Joy Cowley
Gecko Press, $20.00,
ISBN 9781877579936

Teddy One-Eye: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear
Gavin Bishop
Random House, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775537274

The ACB with Honora Lee
Kate De Goldi (drawings by Gregory O’Brien)
Longacre, $25.00,
ISBN 9781869799915

Three stars of New Zealand literature, three award-winning books, three very different approaches and audiences: how is any reviewer to manage this daunting assignment?

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Moments of transcendence, Elizabeth Crayford

Otherwise
John Dennison
Auckland University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9781869408282

The Art of Excavation
Leilani Tamu
Anahera Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9780473290047

Whale Years
Gregory O’Brien
Auckland University Press, $28.00,
ISBN 9781869408329

The cover of John Dennison’s Otherwise features a photograph of what at first looks like a hand-blown light bulb and which bears a striking resemblance to a human head. It is, in fact, a photograph of that scientific curiosity: a light mill. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but the second poem in this, Dennison’s first collection, “Crooke’s Radiometer”, is clearly a description of this object: “the bright form / of the skull …. a partial vacuum …. a spike, / obsessive pivot around which the vanes hum”. Invented in 1873, a light mill consists of a set of vanes in a partial vacuum which rotate when exposed to light. To the lay person, a seeming anomaly, an impossibility: a perpetual motion engine; for scientific explanations, see Dr Google.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Fireflies in the twilight, Gregory O’Brien

Painter and poet Gregory O’Brien reflects on Jean Arp’s Collected French Writings. i was born in nature … i have four natures. i have two things. i have five senses. sense and non-sense. nature is senseless. make way for nature.

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Posted in Imprints

Travels and clippings, Nadine France

Graft Helen Heath Victoria University Press, $28.00, ISBN 9780864737762   Beauties of the Octagonal Pool Gregory O’Brien Auckland University Press, $28.00, ISBN 9781869405793   Just Then Harry Ricketts Victoria University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780864738226   To graft is “to fix

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A cabinet of curiosities, Stella Ramage

A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy Gregory O’Brien Auckland University Press, $59.99, ISBN 9781869404703 The exhibition staged in Wellington City Gallery to accompany the publication of this book contains a striking homage

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Posted in Art, Biography, Non-fiction and Review

Obituaries — Hugh Price, Bub Bridger and Louise St John White

Hugh Price 1929–2009 Being born with club feet was good luck, Hugh Price said – during remedial massage his mother read to him, getting him hooked on books. He came to champion access to literature as a fundamental human right.

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Poem — Gregory O’Brien

Low cloud, field of peonies, Martinborough Sleepless night in your house under the horizon—tiles of an unfinished roof sky of unfalling leaves—you hold tightly what you can: a farmer might lose a paddock, a house disappear down its staircase. This

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Poem — Gregory O’Brien

On hearing, at the Oceanographic Museum, Monaco, the outcome of the New Zealand elections, November 2008   ‘The silvery Lookdowns (Selene vomer) disappear in the dazzling surface reflection as they slide through the water like blades … .’ Guide to the

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