SIMPLY BY SAILING IN A NEW DIRECTION
IN OCTOBER 2012 several dozen writers from New Zealand appeared at the Frankfurt Book Fair where New Zealand had been nominated as the 'country of honour'. We had been gathered for a series of literary events, part of a full-throated piece of cultural diplomacy which would, it was argued, assist increased sales of New Zealand books and promote trade and tourism.
LANDSCAPE AND MEMORY
In 1990 I began writing a story called ‘Resistance’.
‘In summer’… the story opens… ‘we drove south from the city, down Lincoln Road, through Halswell, towards Banks Peninsula where our trimmed and tidied bach with its plastic fly-strips and saucers of rat poison sat waiting in a north-eastern bay…
This was very early in my writing life and I was doing it almost entirely by instinct. I clung to a few fanaticisms, like all fevered beginners – the shape and music of the sentence, the story available between the sentences, and – particularly - the primacy of place. As much as anything I wanted to see my place on the page, its contours, its weather, its proper nouns. In a real way, the nascent stories rose directly out of specific landscapes or streets or houses. Anything I wanted to say, however elusive its essence, would be, I sensed, only available via place.
LEGENDS OF THE SWAMP
The Margaret Mahy Lecture, 2011
I have called this talk: Legends of the Swamp, and for several reasons: Firstly, because my working life as it has evolved rather resembles a swamp, a glorious soup of book-related ingredients – reading, reviewing, teaching, chairing, writing – in the children’s and grown-up forms. These activities are so interconnected they have melted together, each seasoning the other and deepening my appreciation and sense of good fortune.