Blog Archives

Wrenching love, Harry Ricketts

Boundaries: People and Places of Central Otago
Brian Turner (Steve Calveley photographer)
Godwit, $45.00,
ISBN 9781775538318

Early in this composite prose-poetry miscellany about Central Otago, Brian Turner quotes with approval from the English poet Edward Thomas’s “The Mountain Chapel”: “When gods were young / This wind was old.” Which is apt, as Turner could be seen as a kind of local literary descendant of Thomas. (Thomas died from a bomb-blast at Arras on Easter Monday exactly a hundred years ago.) Both are born-again countrymen, chroniclers and champions of vanishing rural worlds. Both have a powerful “retrospectroscope”, as Turner calls it, through which to stare at past and present. Their poems offer a tough celebration of the natural world and its processes, also a downbeat, dented lyricism. Both are blessed, or plagued, by an honesty others sometimes find awkward. Such analogies can be pushed too far, but this one helps to pinpoint something of what makes Turner so distinctive a voice and presence among contemporary New Zealand writers.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review

Consecrated ground, Ian Lochhead

Historic Churches: A Guide to Over 60 Early New Zealand Churches
Linda Burgess (Robert Burgess photographer)
Random House, $50.00, ISBN 9781775537335

Worship: A History of New Zealand Church Design
Bill McKay (Jane Ussher photographer)
Godwit, $85.00, ISBN 9781775538363

One of the inexplicable paradoxes of the human condition is the way in which the religious impulse leads, irresistibly, to the creation of beauty, but also, with seemingly equal passion, to its destruction. Throughout history, buildings and works of art have been created to serve religion, only to be destroyed by reforming zealots who see such works as inimical to worship. The iconoclastic purges of the early Christian churches, the destruction of images and the demolition of monastic buildings during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and, in our own day, the dynamiting of monumental Buddha figures by the Taliban in Afghanistan, all testify to these contradictory urges.

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Posted in Architecture, Non-fiction, Review

eSensual readings, Murray Bramwell

Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page
Siobhan Harvey, James Norcliffe and Harry Ricketts (eds)
Godwit, $45.00, ISBN 9781775534594

So what makes poems essential? In their introduction to this most appealing collection, the three editors mull over the problem of their own title. Actually it is not their title, but a reprise of an earlier Godwit collection also called Essential New Zealand Poems.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Picking winners, Mark Stocker

Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer Jill Trevelyan Te Papa Press, $65.00, ISBN 9780987668844 Landscape Paintings of New Zealand: A Journey from North to South Christopher Johnstone Godwit, $75.00, ISBN 9781775530114 Promoting Prosperity: The

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

More pork and potatoes, anyone? John O’Leary

Poenamo Revisited John Logan Campbell (essay and notes by R C J Stone) Godwit, $60.00, ISBN 9781869797980 Most New Zealanders – even those living south of the Bombay Hills – have heard of John Logan Campbell, the Father of Auckland,

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review

Tikkun olam, David Zwartz

Jewish Lives in New Zealand: A History Leonard Bell and Diana Morrow (eds) Godwit, $55.00, ISBN 9781869621735   “Don’t skite!” said my loving family when I came home with the story of some success at school. Jewish Lives in New

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Religion, Review

The love we live by, Pinky Agnew

Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Poems Paula Green (ed) Godwit, $36.99, ISBN 9781869797621   Appropriately for a book of love poems, Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Poems is lovely to look at and to hold. Equally appropriately, closer acquaintance reveals

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Occupation: housewife, Anne Else

Inside Stories: A History of the New Zealand Housewife 1890-1975 Frances Walsh Godwit, $49.99, ISBN 9781869621650   I was really looking forward to this book. As soon as I could read, I started reading my mother’s magazines. Every week she

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review

Realistic fictions, Helen Watson White

The Art of Peter Siddell Peter Siddell Godwit, $74.99, ISBN 9781869621872 In 1982, when Peter Siddell’s painting Urban Memory, 1982, was purchased by the Christchurch Art Gallery, no one could have dreamt how much value such an image might accrue

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Posted in Art, Non-fiction, Review

Houses and homes, Robin Skinner

Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture Julia Gatley (ed) Auckland University Press, $75.00, ISBN 9781869404666   Home Work: Leading New Zealand Architects’ Own Houses John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds Godwit, $75.00, ISBN 9781869621667   Sixty years ago The Group

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Posted in Architecture, Biography, History, Non-fiction, Review
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