I am a big fan of journeys. This weekend I went on a journey with my friend and fellow-poet, Jenny Powell. We left Dunedin late Thursday evening on a soft and warm winter's day, splotches of spring already smudging trees, gardens, verges and flower pots.
We have called ourselves (our venture) 'J &K Rolling'. So there we were, rolling south on a whistle-stop poetry reading tour we had organised with three libraries. It was happiness too for us that we had been successful in our application for funding for this Whistle-stop Tour; funding from the organisers of NZ Poetry Day and from Booksellers, NZ.
As we drove south, the land opened out into Southland's deep greens and the sky widened above us. I was travelling into very familiar territory. Southland is my home-province and where a lot of my poetry is centered.
... on each seat, a brochure and a poem...
She had a well-prepared venue ready for us and seemed to have thought of everything.
Jenny's reading was entertaining and clear, sprinkled with her trademark drama. I particularly enjoyed hearing her tantalising re-imaginings of Gore and Mataura. She takes the risk of bringing a sense of fun and fantasy to her material, expressing ideas that the listener / reader may not otherwise have entertained. She uses an underlying wry humour to highlight where vulnerability and edginess meet. Her Southern woman poem was a hit.
When I introduced my Waikaia school-bus poem, one of the audience piped up. "I used to go to high school on that bus too," she said. I asked her when and we established that she was travelling on the bus at the same time as I was. "I'll talk to you later," I said. It turned out that we kind of knew each other when we were school-kids. She said that my description of the bus (and other poems too) were immediately identifiable; it was part of her story too.
We were left feeling buoyed by our warm reception in Gore.The next place on our agenda for the day, was Winton, a small town that lies in the heart of Southland.
... to be continued ...