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Poem – Allen Curnow

A Raised Voice Let it be Sunday and the alp-high summer gale gusting to fifty miles. Windmills groan in disbelief, the giant in the pulpit enjoys his own credible scale, stands twelve feet ‘clothed in fine linen’ visibly white from

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Consecrating Curnow, Simon During

Allen Curnow: Simply by Sailing in a New Direction
Terry Sturm (Linda Cassells (ed))
Auckland University Press, $70.00,
ISBN 9781869408527,

Allen Curnow’s first book, Valley of Decision, appeared as a “Phoenix Miscellany” under the Auckland University College Students’ Association Press imprint when he was very young, just 22. But Curnow’s abiding concerns were already in place.

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Posted in Biography, Literature, Non-fiction, Review

Comment: At the Robert Lord cottage

At the Robert Lord cottage

Novelist and memoirist Elspeth Sandys reflects on her recent residency

I am a cottage-phile. The very word cottage starts bells chiming in my head, church bells probably, since the words that come to me are Robert Browning’s “God’s in his heaven! –/ All’s right with the world”. The cottage I see in my mind has wisteria trailing over the walls, shutters on the windows, a cosy living-room with an open fireplace, a generous kitchen with an aga, a small courtyard garden, a dog, a cat … . When I think of this place, and put myself in it, I feel nothing can go wrong in my life. I am living simply, in harmony with Nature. I can pay the bills, look the neighbours in the eye, even feel a slight sense of superiority because of my total lack of interest in acquiring anything larger. Castles, palaces, manor houses, the mansions of the wealthy – these are for visiting as a tourist, or gawping at as a stunned observer, not for living in.

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Editorial – Issue 121

Readership survey results We have been asking ourselves some questions lately, about how we can change and improve to meet the changing expectations of our readers. The answer to questions relating to format and appearance were obvious – the journal

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A story of story-telling, Miriam Meyerhoff

Michael C Corballis
Auckland University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869408633

Many people have remarked that, more than language itself, how we use language is what sets humans apart from other animals. Whales, elephants, birds, other apes, seem to be able to communicate a few things to each other, and we’re starting to find out that some animals can even tailor their communication to specific addressees (“I want food/sex from you; not you”). But we still have no evidence that any other animals tell stories. 

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Posted in Language, Non-fiction, Review

Radiant living: a hero rediscovered, Julia Millen

Edmund Hillary: A Biography
Michael Gill
Potton and Burton, $60.00,
ISBN 9780947503383

 

1953: Edmund Hillary, Everest conqueror (with Tenzing Norgay), is knighted by newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II. From the time he climbed his first peak in the Southern Alps, it had taken 13 years of steep uphill slog to become a world hero.

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Championing indigenous art histories, Stella Ramage

Colonial Gothic to Māori Renaissance: Essays in Memory of Jonathan Mane-Wheoki
Conal McCarthy and Mark Stocker (eds)
Victoria University Press, $80.00,
ISBN 9781776561094

The Gedenkschrift – essays by colleagues collected in posthumous commemoration of an esteemed academic – is an uncommon genre in Aotearoa New Zealand. Partly, this is due to its logistical demands: contributors must produce new work that chimes with the honouree’s research interests within a Goldilocks time-frame, when loss is fresh but not too raw. Museologist Conal McCarthy and curator Mark Stocker, with the help of a small army, have achieved this feat, launching a substantial book within three years of the death of renowned art historian, curator and public speaker, Jonathan Mane-Wheoki.

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Posted in Art, History, Māori, Non-fiction, Review

“An area of increasing need”, S. T.

Representing Trans: Linguistic, Legal and Everyday Perspectives 
Evan Hazenberg and Miriam Meyerhoff (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781776561759

 

The day before this review was due, my mother messaged me to say that she had heard an interview on RNZ featuring my former endocrinologist, Dr John Delahunt. Curious, I looked the segment up, and discovered that it was prompted by an article published the same day in the New Zealand Medical Journal. The article, snappily titled “Increasing rates of people identifying as transgender presenting to Endocrine Services in the Wellington region”, describes a marked jump in those seeking referrals for therapy related to gender-reassignment, and a particularly steep increase in referrals for those under the age of 30. The study claims that the climb in numbers is “likely to be related to the increasing societal awareness and acceptance of gender diversity”, and Dr Delahunt, one of the study’s authors, concluded that the article was largely directed at health professionals, intended to “highlight an area of increasing need”.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, Sociology

A bizarre, but very New Zealand, world, Jonathan Lane

Daughter of Gloriavale: My Life in a Religious Cult
Lilia Tarawa
Allen and Unwin, $37.00,
ISBN 9781760631499

Lilia Tarawa’s memoir, Daughter of Gloriavale, paints her childhood somewhere between an idyllic summer camp in the country and the winged bonnets and forced procreation of The Handmaid’s Tale. Tarawa grew up in Gloriavale, a fundamentalist Christian community nestled in prime moss-growing conditions on the West Coast, subject of a recent set of TV2 documentaries. Gloriavale is managed by male elders, roles defined strictly by gender, and closed off from the world, except for occasional trips to the Gomorrahs of Greymouth and Christchurch. Tarawa is a granddaughter of the original founder, Hopeful Christian, who runs Gloriavale with an iron fist and a disturbing criminal record. 

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

Peacetime at last, Helen Watson White

Astride a Fierce Wind
Huberta Hellendoorn
Submarine, $38.00,
ISBN 9780473395216

Writing in retirement in the small Dunedin apartment she shares with her husband Bart, Huberta Hellendoorn characteristically uses a domestic metaphor to describe her ever-changing experience:

The revolving dryer reminds me of my life, the moving and whirling of complicated situations, sometimes sudden, other times slow in reaching a climax. Tossed about by circumstances that could only be fully acknowledged by the passing of time and often hard work.

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