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).