Blog Archives

Sport and sexuality, Bill Hastings

Broken Play
Nicholas Sheppard
RSVP, $35.00, ISBN 9780994140814

Grant Robertson, our minister of finance, has a picture in his office of a rugby team called the Krazy Knights. The photo was taken 20 years ago. He is in it. All of the young men in the picture are smiling, a bit sweaty, and glowing with physical exertion. They are happy brothers-in-arms, enjoying the camaraderie of a match well played. All but two are gay.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Back in the day, Chris Else

Tane’s War Brendaniel Weir, Cloud Ink Press, $30.00

Gone to Pegasus Tess Redgrave, Submarine, $35.00

Rotoroa Amy Head, Victoria University Press, $30.00,

Over the last ten years or so, the number of established New Zealand publishers bringing out local fiction has shrunk to less than a handful, while the annual output of eager talent from our creative writing schools has continued apace. As a result, there have been a lot of manuscripts out there struggling to reach a readership. Gradually, solutions have been found; literary ambition, like love, inevitably finds a way, resorting to such outlets as self-publishing, collectives and small one- or two-person companies.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review

Plays and playmaking, Mark Houlahan

Performing Dramaturgy
Fiona Graham
Playmarket, $40.00,
ISBN 9780908607648

Floating Islanders: Pasifika Theatre in Aotearoa
Lisa Warrington and David O’Donnell
ISBN 9781988531076

Dawn Raids
Oscar Kightley
Playmarket, $18.00,
ISBN 97809080607631

“What is a dramaturg?” I overheard that question earlier this year while sitting in a theatre waiting for a show to begin. As it happened, this was a show which listed me in the programme as “dramaturg”, and the couple asking the question were reading my notes. So I quickly said to them, “script advisor”, and left them to get on with their pre-show reading. A few months later, I was reading Fiona Graham’s Performing Dramaturgy, which offers a much richer, contextualised series of answers to the question. It would be egregious to thrust her book into the hands of someone directly waiting for a performance to start, of course, but otherwise it can be safely recommended to a broad range of researchers, students and theatre practitioners. Graham herself prefers the alternative spelling “dramaturge”, because of its use to indicate “an expanded and interdisciplinary practice”, so I’ll use that form here.

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Posted in Art, Literature, Non-fiction, Pacific, Plays, Review

Time-hopping, Adrian Kinnaird

Helen and the Go-go Ninjas
Ant Sang and Michael Bennett
Penguin Random House, $30.00,
ISBN 9780143771241

A creative collaboration between a writer and artist is common in the world of comics and graphic novels. Celebrated collaborators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Goscinny and Uderzo, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and many more have frequently combined their talents to create memorable graphic stories.

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Posted in Graphic novel, Literature, Review

Wrestling with the past, Gwynaeth McIntyre

Athens to Aotearoa: Greece and Rome in New Zealand Literature and Society
Diana Burton, Simon Perris and Jeff Tatum (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776561766

Athens to Aotearoa’s cover image, Herakles Wrestles the Taniwha, epitomises the very essence of this edited volume. As the editors state in their preface, they sought papers “exhibiting a sharp awareness of the pretensions, the impositions and the frictions that are all part of the reality of New Zealand’s confrontation with ancient Greece and Rome.” It is an analysis of this confrontation and the ways in which each paper wrestles with the relationship between Aotearoa New Zealand and its classical heritage that unites the volume.

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Posted in Literature, Review

Shivers of emotion, Tom McLean

Dan Davin: A Field Officer’s Notebook: Selected Poems
Robert McLean (ed)
Cold Hub Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9780473430689

Robert McLean here presents an edited selection of Dan Davin’s poetry, collecting a body of verse seen as having value in itself rather than attempting a scholarly edition or detailed exegesis. A brief contextualising introduction emphasises the influence of WWII on Davin.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Yearning and erasure, John Horrocks

He’s so MASC
Chris Tse
Auckland University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 1781869408879

The Facts
Therese Lloyd
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776561810

Dark Days at the Oxygen Café
James Norcliffe
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776560837

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Keith Westwater – Poem

To Avis Elaine The flowers you loved strew the shores of my first seven years Sometimes, in flower shops they shout out their names gerbera gladioli iris Sometimes they sing to me from a bouquet only half-made peonies pansies sweet

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Posted in Literature, Poetry

Thoughts well-wrought, Damian Love

View from the South
Owen Marshall (Grahame Sydney photographer)
Vintage, $40.00, ISBN 9780143771845

It often seems to be the case that novelists, when they turn to verse, move with a more relaxed gait, a less self-conscious regard, than those whose passport to the Republic of Letters declares them to be Poets. I am glad that Owen Marshall is not a Poet. This happy circumstance leaves him free to write poetry. There is no straining for originality in his verse, no exhibitionist sensitivity, just a quiet confidence in the value of well-wrought thought.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Almost too true, Aleksia Drain

Lyla
Fleur Beale
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760113780 

Lyla is a book written in raw truth. The story begins in a world of homework and the normal everyday life of a young schoolgirl named Lyla. She attends Avonside Girls’ High School and lives happily in the city of Christchurch. But then disaster strikes: an earthquake shakes the lives of every Christchurch citizen, turning us upside down into chaos. This book reveals the truth of the February Christchurch earthquake, the loss people faced, and the terrible things we saw. It brings a reader out of their world of media and newspapers and reveals the personal terrors one faced in that horrific time. 

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults
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