Paekakariki City Limits

I spent several hours today engaged in a poetic expedition to Paekakariki, which is a small town on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington – a rather beautiful small town nestled in the sandhills by the sea.

Helen Rickerby, Harvey Molloy and I travelled up in Harvey’s car to rendezvous with Helen Heath at the Paekakariki School Fair and give a joint poetry reading. Helen Heath set up the gig, and the rest of us were pleased to have the chance to take part.

I had very little idea what to expect, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day – though the heat was a bit much for my cold-adapted blood; the Kapiti Coast is usually hotter than Wellington, and by the time we got there just after 11am, Paekakariki was sweltering. The fair was big – I’ve never seen a fair with three different types of bouncy castle before, though I’m sure you city slicker types see that all the time. We moved through the fair to the hall, and set out our stall. We all had things to sell:

Helen Heath: CD “Seven Paekakariki Poets Reading”

Harvey Molloy: New poetry collection Moonshot

Helen Rickerby: New poetry collection My Iron Spine; previous collection Abstract Internal Furniture; and JAAM 26 – Helen publishes JAAM.

Tim Jones: Recent poetry collection All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens and first poetry collection Boat People; new short story collection Transported and first short story collection Extreme Weather Events.

We did two reading sessions, half an hour apart, with a fine performance by a Thai dance troupe in between. I found the first session hard going, because most of the notional audience were actually in the hall to eat their lunch; but, by the second session, more of the people in the hall were paying attention – and if they weren’t, Harvey got their attention with the first poem he read! The sales table ticked along well, each of us met some people we knew whom we didn’t know would be there, and afterwards, we had a good time checking out Helen Heath’s craft stall and haunting the book stall, where it was lovely to see Dinah Hawken again.

Doing a solo reading can be stressful, and if the audience isn’t responding, there’s really nowhere to turn. Doing a joint reading with friends was fun, supportive, social, and as it turns out, profitable as well. If you’ve got an event coming up in the Wellington region which could benefit from a visiting poet or three, please get in touch!

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