Monday, 1 October 2007
For part of the journey down to Invercargill, the bottom portion of the sky shone in a band of blue right down to the horizon, with a bank of misty cloud above. As we looked down towards the horizon-less Hokonui hills seemingly swimming in a sea of blue, it was easy to imagine we were actually looking at a view of the ocean, with the hills as islands. It was uncanny how easily our minds tricked us into thinking we were looking out to where land was meeting the ocean, rather than the true view of hills framed against an inland sky.
Then when Cilla McQueen generously introduced the poetry reading, treating those of us there to a well thought-out address, part of which describes the Pacific as the centre of the earth; as an ocean ringed by islands, rather than the other way around; it was as if the sky-scape we had been treated to on our way down to Invercargill, was in preparation for Cilla's thoughts. Having the Pacific-centro perspective pointed out as the true one, surprises, intrigues and finally settles in your mind as right.
And it felt right too, to be there at the Invercargill library reading my poetry about Southland to the small (in number) but attentive audience.
There was definitely a hard-to-believe-I'm-really-here feeling. A little akin to sublime. Even a little surreal. I loved it. Every minute. Just to have Cilla, an established New Zealand poet whom I have long admired, to introduce me was in itself enough to topple me into pinch-me-I'm-dreaming territory. Donelle, Otago University Press's intrepid, super-duper, thoroughly fantastic publicity person certainly instigated and arranged for a sweet event.
And Helen at the Library too, with the tasteful arrangement of balloons and posters, the quiet dignified arrangement of deep-blue seats right in the middle of the library, so that Sunday library browsers could listen in and - as ABM put it - see that listening to poetry doesn't actually kill you.
Afterwards, we bid Donelle good-bye (I am hoping that as an ex-Aucklander she was impressed with the sunshine Invercargill turned on ... ) and then my little support group and I had coffee and cake to celebrate.
The trip there and back was full of sips (interspersed with hearty gulps) of spring. Lambs, lambs, lambs and more lambs doing appropriate lamb-y things - frolicking, chumming up together, cuddling-up against mum, spinning their little tails like propellers as they grabbed a drink ... But above all, looking as cute as cute with their creamy, woolly, astrakhan coats and grubby knees. We remembered a niece saying how lambs have to be the cutest of all the animals we eat. And daffodils. Everywhere. Southlanders love their daffs. They have them growing along the roadsides at the start of every town. Clumps and groves and rows and billowing waves of them. After seeing so many yesterday, I developed a new appreciation of these flowers - how they struggle to hold up heavy, heavy heads without a close ruff of leaves to support their skinny necks. There's something brave about how kitsch they are, how sickly sweet and familiar; yellow bonnets bobbing in a much too-cutsey manner; on top of vulnerable, thin necks oh so easy to snap.
And then home to two hungry cats. It was a good day.
I did have time to think of Jan's challenge - five of my favourite books.
I've completed this challenge before. I've forgotten what books I listed then. Maybe they are the same as then, but I think not.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Berlin Diary by Cilla McQueen (NZ poetry)
A House for Mr Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
Stuck Up by John Dolan (American poetry - written by an ex-pat American in NZ)
Dialectic of Mud by Richard Reeve (NZ poetry)
All of the above books changed and inspired me in some measure. All of them I return to often. To be inspired again.