Sunday, 18 August 2013

Poetry Reading, Gore

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.

The next morning was NZ Poetry Day and our welcome at the Gore library was warm. One of their librarians, Penelope Perry, had started corresponding with us back in April when we first mooted the idea with her of Jenny and me reading in libraries in Southland as part of Poetry Day. Straight away she had been supportive and keen to accommodate.

... on each seat, a brochure and a poem...

She had a well-prepared venue ready for us and seemed to have thought of everything.

What we heard from the Open Mic. segment of the event was entertaining and fresh.

One of the poets read poems that were packed with rugby, racing, beer and deer-stalking; it was poetry my father would have appreciated. True, heartland, grass-roots, rural poetry shot through with country pragmatism and humour. It's poetry that deserves a genre of its own and probably high time more of it made its way into books.

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 ...


richardg said...

Love the clever name for your little tour.perhaps roll up to the north sometime/

richardg said...

sounds like a fun trip.what about a north island trip sometime/

richardg said...

sounds like a fun trip. what about a north island visit sometime?

Kay Cooke said...

Richard - Thanks so much for your kind comments - all three - sorry the comments part to my blog seems to be misbehaving lately. We would be open to a tour North; we are certainly wanting to carry on rolling - wherever our wheels take us!

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