Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Books, Birds and Rain


The flurry has died down.

Back to old clothes and porridge, as my nana would have said.
I can report that the launch went well. A crowd of friends and family gathered together in the publisher's offices above a busy Cumberland Street. Below, along the one-way, a non-stop stream of Friday night traffic headed northwards. Inside, out of the winter air, glasses of wine were raised and good, kind things said. 'made for weather' was well received and duly afforded a worthy shove into the world. It is a fine-looking (thanks to M's painting on the cover and Fiona Moffatt's design) hard-covered book. Richard Reeve said some very kind things about my writing. I tried not to feel too embarrassed. To have Richard launch the book meant the world to me. He's been part of my writing life from when I started taking the writing of my own poetry seriously, and I value his intelligent and energetic support of both poetry in general and my own poetry.
I duly signed all the copies bought, feeling like a bona-fide author. (Excuse the 'post-launch' posing!)
I enjoy things better when they are unpretentious and meaningful. And for me, the launch had that flavour. The ones who were there were the important people. Of course not everyone who is important to me was able to be there - but there were enough people, friends and family present to stand in for them.
After most people had left, I signed the wall - an OUP tradition. Pity I didn't get a photo. We forgot the camera! (Although ABM said he was happier not to have the pressure of having to think about taking photos.)
Afterwards it was off to the library for the Poetry Day readings; myself as featured poet - no pressure!
I had prepared well. It had taken me all week (in the evenings after work) to process the information I wanted to convey about each poem I was reading, and to prepare and rehearse the reading of the poems themselves. It paid off. I wasn't nervous. I felt relaxed and confident and even found it enjoyable. (As opposed to a nerve-wracking, endurance test ...) ABM said it was the best he'd heard me read, so I'll take that as confirmation that it went okay.
Afterwards we went with friends and M&K for a wind-down coffee. I treated myself to a hot chocolate and a slice of chocolate cake. Yum.

***
In Saturday's mail, a Snoopy card arrived ( I love Snoops! as E figured I did ... ) from S&E in Japan. Touching and sweet - it's a keeper.

And for the launch, L my bestest buddy at work, bought me some roses.


***

On Saturday, to recover from all the excitement, I spent most of the day in bed - sleeping the day away and reading in between. I read the book my friend R. from Wellington gave me for my birthday. It's called 'The Jane Austen Book Club' by Karen Joy Fowler.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of Becky's style. Her book 'Coupon Girl' has that same quick humour, with enough one-liners to keep a stand-up comedian in business, yet at the same time, a sturdy, captivating plot that keeps things rolling along.

Now I am reading the 'The Bedside Book of Birds - An Avian Miscellany - ' by Graeme Gibson (Margaret Atwood's husband.)
This is the book I bought myself for a birthday present. As I am a fan of birds, it's not surprising that I am finding this fairly hefty book a satisfying one to dip into before I go to sleep. I am looking forward to it lasting as reading material for the rest of the winter.
The piece I read last night was by Saki, and was about his observations of the habits of birds in a war zone. It might surprise you to know (it did me anyway) that despite the war raging about them, mostly the birds carry on regardless, going about their daily business, building nests on war-ravaged trees and singing above the gunfire.

Speaking of birds, I happened to tune into Channel One's 'Artsville' programme on Sunday night, and was entranced (yet again) by seeing Bill Hammond's paintings. All those human-like, hook-beaked birds in primordial mists and bogs, just sitting or standing there, waiting for something. Waiting ... Waiting ...
His latest bird paintings feature the imposing, regal presence of the Great Haast Eagle - now extinct. By a co-incidence, last night when searching for images of the moa - an enormous flightless bird, also extinct - I came across another image of the Haast eagle, attacking a moa.

Today I drew a moa for the children. They coloured it in and we stuck it to the wall. They were fascinated by its size, and as indignant as only four year olds can be, to think such a large and amazing bird was hunted out of existence.
Part of the programme on Sunday night, featured a museum curator opening drawers holding three huia. Another extinct bird. These are the only three specimens of this bird in the whole of this planet. It was quite affecting ... I sensed a poem ... that fizzing feeling, like an electrical charge with origins in the gut, shooting up to the brain's right (or is it left?) hemisphere.

***
The weather has been both churlish and charming of late. It is still winter, but we've had some warm, sunny days to trick us into a false sense of security - until yesterday when the hard and persistent rain fell. There was some flooding in parts. Luckily it didn't affect us too much. Nothing a good raincoat and gumboots wouldn't fix.

***
'The Things children Say' (two things overheard this past week ...)
'T. said 'farting'," a child reports.

"You can come to my tea party as long as you don't be a dinosaur," G ( a girl) said to W (a boy).


***

23 comments:

Catherine said...

Ooooh - hardback! How satisfying, I was expecting the usual paperback. I'm really looking forward to getting my copy. I missed the Bill Hammond programme on TV, I wish now I hadn't. I will probably go to the exhibition, though

Katherine said...

Ahhhh...(deep sigh of satisfaction). I'm so glad the book launch went well and MFW is finally out there in the concrete world.

Thanks for the snippet about Margaret Atwood's husband. I've seen them both in an ad here (in Canada) supporting the preservation of local places where migratory birds like to rest.

Hmmm...there's a convoluted sentence for you!

leonie said...

so glad the launch went well, congratulations.

Cam said...

Congratulations on the book.

McDinzie said...

with a smile on my face I read of your truimph.....so very proud of you big sis...only in age :)

I so have to get my butt into gear about getting my copy...although I will have to visit to get a signed copy :)

apprentice said...

Congratulations, it sounds like it was a wonderful night and one to savour for a long time to come. I hope the book does really well. A hardback sounds lovely, full of substance.

I know what you mean about that fizzing feeling, although sadly for me it doesn't come often enough.

The kids are right to be indignant. Here we have a wildlife detective programme running, and I was shocked to see a man from my own home town caught for netting wild finches, using wild caught decoy birds in tiny cages hung from trees near his "mist net". These poor decoys are known as Judas birds, and like you I had a feeling about that phrase.

Carole said...

Congratulations on a successful book launch. I enjoyed this posting.

I read 'The Jane Austen Book Club' when I belonged to a book club a couple of years ago.

I'm a big Margaret Atwood fan but didn't know her husband was into birds. She seems to know quite a lot about ecology.

Tammy said...

How exciting for you CB! I was happy to see you signing autographs...very cool! XXOO

dinzie said...

Congratulations on the book launch ... Did McD tell you my works place now hasa published poetry author as communications director ... Look forward to seeing some of her business reports :O)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Congratulations! That's so wonderful. How very lovely.

Glad to know that it went so well.

Wondering if we will see it here in the states? Is it available online or in the US?


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

pepektheassassin said...

I'm glad your book launching went so well! It's beautiful, and so are you!
I, too, look forward to my copy-- the sooner the better.

Congratulations!

pepektheassassin said...

BTW, I was showing your son's Japanese blog to my son, and he showed me another guys blog that is hilarious-- called: An Englishman in Japan. You (and he) might find it fun to look around in...garages too small for cars, gates with no fences, funny labels, etc.

Remiman said...

CB,
Congatulations on the successful launch of your second book! I love the photos by the way.
I enjoyed your first collection of poems so much that I'm going to order this one. Now how would I go about getting your signature on these books. You're the first published author I have a correspondence with.;)
Kids love the word fart...why is that?
rel

chiefbiscuit said...

catherine - Hopefully you'll have your book by now ... I'm going to encourage ABM to go to the ehib. as he is in Ch'ch for the Bob Dylan concert on Wednesday next week.

katherine - Convoluted's okay with me!

leonie - Thanks Leonie.

cam - Thanks! :)

mcd - Hmmm ... watch the mailbox.

apprentice - Thanks, Judas bird - Sends a shiver all right.

carole - Yes she's definitely a greenie from way back.

tammy - The photos are a little staged I fear - but signing copies is always exciting!

dinzie - Yes and I know her work. V. accomplished.

scarlett - It's avail at Amazon.

pepek - Thanks so much.
Will look u the blog too. Sorry your copy of 'mfw' is going to take so long to get to you.

rel - I'm so glad you enjoyed 'feeding the dogs'. :) If you are able to order through the email address on my sidebar, you can request a signed copy and I can sign it for you. (Give it a go, I'm not sure what they do about remuneration from o/seas is all ...)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Hey lady,

Wanted to give you this:

I awarded you with a thoughtful blogger award on my page... please drop by when you get a chance, and pick it up.


Best,
Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Cailleach said...

So, howdo I go about getting it then CB? I cant wait to read it -your launch sounded really relaxed and I'd love to hear you reading your own work - maybe I will some day...

Congratulations and a very big warm Irish hug to you, I am so delighted for you!

Cailleach said...

Okay, I should have read first - available on amazon.com, but not on amazon.co.uk yet :(
I will be waiting!

Catherine said...

My copy arrived on Friday, not quite as quick as I expected but worth it when it got here. It is great, and so is the inscription you wrote in it.
For others who might want to buy a copy, if they e-mail the address you gave, they will take credit card orders (but don't have a secure website - still, I've never had any problems sending credit card details by e-mail).

Kamsin said...

So glad the book launch went well. Sounds like things are good in your neck of the woods, old clothes, porridge and all.

chiefbiscuit said...

cailleach - Not sure if it will be avail on Amazon UK - will have to ask publisher ... Thanks fo rth eIrish hug - it's always something special to get an Irish hug!

catherine - Thanks - glad you like it. :)

kamsin - Yep. Pretty good. :)

paris parfait said...

I am very late to the party, but congratulations! I'm so pleased about your book being off to a good start. Can't wait to read it!

wendy said...

oh...I am so proud if you! beyond words.

so proud.

chiefbiscuit said...

pp - Thanks so much!

wendy - Your pride makes me feel humble - but also very happy!

Harbour

Harbour
'how this all harbours light'