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A Vase and a Vast Sea

Adrienne Jansen and Jenny Nimon talking about the new anthology "A Vase and Vast Sea", which is also pictured

I’ve very happy to say that my poem “Tuesdays” is included in the new anthology from Escalator Press, A Vase and a Vast Sea.

Pre-sales are now open for this anthology – get in quick, because it’s a limited print run.

From the Escalator Press blog:

Escalator Press is pleased to announce an upcoming publication, A Vase and a Vast Sea. You may have heard that the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme and its journal, 4th Floor, were brought to an end last year when the polytechnic discontinued almost but not all writing courses. The news was a blow to many of us in the literary community, who valued the support the Programme gave to the writing community of Aotearoa.

To mark the 27-year legacy of the Creative Writing Programme, Escalator Press is publishing A Vase and a Vast Sea – a collection of poetry and short prose selected from 4th Floor.

This collection is a reunion of writers such as Renée, Maggie Rainey-Smith, Barbara Else, Rata Gordon, Alison Glenny, Tim Jones and Adrienne Jansen, and is an essential keepsake of New Zealand literature and a much-loved writing course.

Watch the video:

Revisiting Anarya’s Secret

During the recent World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand – the first virtual Worldcon – I discovered that my 2007 fantasy novel, Anarya’s Secret, is still available from Drivethru RPG. If it seems weird that a novel is available from a games company, that’s because the novel is a tie-in: it’s one of a series of novels written in the universe of the Earthdawn roleplaying game (Earthdawn is a prequel to the Shadowrun RPG.)

Anarya's Secret front cover

About Anarya’s Secret

Kendik Dezelek is a young Swordmaster. He’s tall, strong, and well-trained. But when he leaves his home village on the road to adventure, he soon finds that those things will only get you so far. In the land between the Tylon Mountains and the Serpent River, friend and foe are not always as they appear.

In a world still recovering from the Scourge, when Horrors ravaged the land of Barsaive, Kendik is soon forced to choose between a range of evils. He travels with the surly and disreputable Turgut brothers. He encounters the bloated tyrant Lord Tesek, ruler of the growing city of Borzim. And he is ensnared in the plots of the feared and mysterious House of the Wheel.

Most of all, he meets Anarya Chezarin, who enters his life from the depths of an ancient stronghold. Who is she, and what is her secret? It may cost Kendik and Anarya more than their lives to find out.

Buy a copy of Anarya’s Secret.

Launching P S Cottier’s New Poetry Collection, “Monstrous”

A couple of hours after CoNZealand finished, I had the pleasure of launching P S Cottier’s new poetry collection Monstrous. This is a tremendous collection, and you should buy a copy! To find out why, check out my launch speech and hear P S Cottier read from Monstrous:

Here are the important links:

Buy Now: https://bit.ly/2LVbIu1

More info: https://bit.ly/2DdXbs

Circular (for libraries & bookshops): https://adobe.ly/3bXaOrD

Cover of poetry collection "Monstrous", by P S Cottier

Note: This is not a children’s book, and the gnome does not wish you well!

My CoNZealand Climate Change Panels

Panel replays currently available for ConZealand members include these panels I took part in:

Climate Change and Conventions (first panel on this list)

Climate Fiction/Climate Fact (fifth panel on this list)

Check out all the great panels, readings etc that are available on replay!

What’s this all about?

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention is over! The first to be based in Aotearoa, and the first to be held virtually.

There is so much to say about the convention – for now, I’m just going to congratulate the organisers for all the effort they put in to change a planned in-person convention to a virtual convention at a few months’ notice. There were a whole bunch of teething problems that affected many participants – one of my events vanished into a time-zone ether – but the impressive thing is that some many things worked, or were made to work after people spoke up to get them fixed.

For a few more days, many of the panels, readings and other events are available on replay. My personal highlight of the Con was the Climate Fiction/Climate Fact Panel, but right at the start of the Con, I also took part in the Climate Change and Conventions panel – here’s the presentation I prepared for that panel.

My First CoNZealand Panel: “Climate Change and Conventions” – Can We Go On Meeting Like This?


World War 2 poster showing a couple pondering a journey, with caption "Is Your Journey Really Necessary"?

The 78th World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand, is underway. (There is also a free fringe conference, CoNZealand Fringe!)

I’m getting fully into panel-going from tomorrow, but today I attended my first event as a panelist – “Climate Change and Conventions”, moderated by Erin Underwood with panelists Kyoko Ogushi and Cameron Bolinger. It was an excellent, wide-ranging discussion in a Q&A format, with lots of knowledgeable and helpful contributions in the chat.

There was general – although not universal – agreement that intercontinental travel for science fiction conventions needs to be restricted, and plenty of discussion of other ways in which conventions contribute to climate change – including the energy costs of virtual conventions.

Here’s the presentation I prepared for the panel: We Can’t Go On Meeting Like This (PDF, 385 KB)

Climate Fiction in New Zealand’s Mainstream Media: Stuff’s “Forever Project”

The Double-Cab Club, by Tim Jones (Forever Project, March 2020)

Resilience, by Octavia Cade (Forever Project, June 2020)

In March, New Zealand’s largest news outlet, Stuff, launched its Forever Project, which editor Eloise Gibson describes as “our way of saying we’re committed to clear-eyed, insistent coverage of the epoch-defining challenges of climate change and sustainability.”

The Forever Project represents a major change in the way Stuff has decided to cover climate change. Until a couple of years ago, Stuff was giving plenty of space to climate deniers and climate trolls: now, they’ve stopped doing that, and are writing many more in-depth stories on climate change and the promise and pitfalls of various approaches to addressing it. Their coverage isn’t perfect, but it’s a huge improvement.

The Forever Project has a print as well as an online component. Two copies of the Forever Project magazine have been distributed to Stuff subscribers so far, and each has included a climate fiction story – which is also available online.

I was delighted to be asked to write the story that appeared in the March 2020 edition of the Forever Project – a story set in 2030, as Aotearoa struggles to deal with both the causes and the effects of climate change – and also that Dr Octavia Cade was commissioned to write the story that appeared in the second issue.

Here’s how you can subscribe to the Forever Project newsletter.

As a bonus, the illustration for my story was created by the wonderful illustrator Ruby Jones – it was a pleasure to work with her.








Jeanette Fitzsimons’ Memorial Service, Wellington, 20 July 2020

I was honoured to have a small role in the memorial service for Jeanette Fitzsimons: former Green Party co-leader, activist, musician, farmer. I first met Jeanette in my teens and, since 2011, worked closely with her in Coal Action Network Aotearoa.

At the memorial service, I read a poem I’d been asked to write for the occasion, “What You Leave Behind”. The text of the poem is at the end of this post, and you can view Jeanette’s memorial service, and take a look at the programme, at the links below.

Watch Jeanette Fitzsimons Memorial Service

Download your copy of the programme here.

What You Leave Behind

The final movement of the last quartet
stumbles to an end. The players
raise their bows from the strings,
stand, incline their heads,

And wait as the silence stretches on.
The hall is empty. Only microphones
connect them with the world. Where
are you, where have you gone?

Gone from the valley, gone from the hill.
Gone your prodigious memory, your mind.
You were not a kind person, you told me once.
But your forte was kindness in action.

You planted a thousand thousand seeds.
Stony ground devoured some. Others
were taken by drought, swept away
by sudden flood and rising sea.

Yet hundreds still grow, seedlings
sheltered so long by the mighty parent tree
now spiraling upwards in the clearing
made by your fall from the canopy.

Silence in the hall, silence on the Hill.
The air lies thick and curdled.
In our lungs and in our bones
we feel the cost of consequences rise.

All voices end. Yours lives on
in wisdom, friendship, in example.
Be kind. Speak clearly. Be unafraid.
Block the gates of power and greed.

The players leave. The music hides
between the pages of the score.
Alone on stage, one music stand,
one violin, one bow, one empty chair.

Transformative Works: a poem for Level 3

This is the daily shipping news. Jashley,
Ashinda: behind them, the promise
of transformative works, the old Ministry
reassembling from neoliberal dust.

The old and the new scramble
for debt-free gold at the rainbow’s end,
the schemers of irrigation schemes
circling the circular economy.

Tunnel borers sharpen iron teeth.
Laws join the bonfire of regulations.
“What’ll it be, New Zealand –
the money or the body bags?”

What You Leave Behind: my tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons

I was asked to write a poem in tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons for her Wellington memorial service. That service, along with so much else, has now been postponed, but here is the poem – with thanks to Jenny Campbell for suggesting the whakatauki that precedes it.

This poem was published as part of Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s tribute to Jeanette Fitzsimons – Jeanette and I were members of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa Organising Group, and here is the full tribute, which has some wonderfully-written pieces about Jeanette.

What You Leave Behind

Whakatauki

Ehara i te tii e wana ake.
It is not like the ever-renewed shoots of the cabbage tree .

Death is final & irrevocable. The tii or cabbage tree is hard to kill, because new shoots spring from apparently dead branches.

The final movement of the last quartet
stumbles to an end. The players
raise their bows from the strings,
stand, incline their heads,

And wait as the silence stretches on.
The hall is empty. Only microphones
connect them with the world. Where
are you, where have you gone?

Gone from the valley, gone from the hill.
Gone your prodigious memory, your mind.
You were not a kind person, you told me once.
But your forte was kindness in action.

You planted a thousand thousand seeds.
Stony ground devoured some. Others
were taken by drought, swept away
by sudden flood and rising sea.

Yet hundreds still grow, seedlings
sheltered so long by the mighty parent tree
now spiraling upwards in the clearing
made by your fall from the canopy.

Silence in the hall, silence on the Hill.
The air lies thick and curdled.
In our lungs and in our bones
we feel the cost of consequences rise.

All voices end. Yours lives on
in wisdom, friendship, in example.
Be kind. Speak clearly. Be unafraid.
Block the gates of power and greed.

The players leave. The music hides
between the pages of the score.
Alone on stage, one music stand,
one violin, one bow, one empty chair.

Blackball Readers and Writers Festival 2020

I’m very happy to have been invited to take part in the second Blackball Readers and Writers Festival at Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

Below is info about the Festival from Paul Maunder. Check out Paul Maunder’s blog for a lot of very interesting thinking on climate change, just transition and many other things!

As someone who lived for 18 months on the West Coast as a child, I’m especially pleased to be going back to the Coast for this Festival.

The second Blackball Readers and Writers Festival will take place at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, running from midday Saturday 30th May to Sunday evening. This year’s theme is activists, renegades and recluses. It will take place once again in the beautiful setting of the local school.

To begin the festival, biographer, Pat White and editor and environmental writer, David Young will ‘recover’ the work of Greymouth born, Peter Hooper, poet, teacher, novelist, environmentalist and mentor to young writers. Choosing to stay and write on the Coast, he was in some ways, a tragic figure.

After a break, Caroline Selwood will interview Sandra Arnold, whose work includes two novels, a book on parental bereavement, a short fiction collection and her third, recent historical novel, The Ash, the Well and the Bluebell. To conclude the afternoon, Pat White will then read some of his own poems.

After dinner, Paul Maunder’s Waiting for Greta, a remake of the theatre classic, Waiting for Godot will be performed.

Sunday morning, Paddy Richardson will talk with Becky Manawatu, whose first novel, Auē, dealing with ‘kids, gangs and curdled masculinity’, has been very well received. Elspeth Sandys will then speak with David Young about her extensive writing life with a focus on her latest work, A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, a story that combines family memoir, biography, history and travelogue.

After lunch, Paul Maunder will talk with Nicky Hager, NZ’s best known investigative Journalist, whose books have uncovered environmental, political and military skulduggery. How did his work begin? What is the role of the journalist-writer, what is the methodology, what are the ethical issues?

The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion with two writers, their source material and their motivation, chaired by Kennedy Warne. Tim Jones, whose latest novel is a Cli-Fi book, Where We Land will be joined by Kathleen Gallagher, whose recent novel Inangahua Gold is inspired by local history and environment. The festival will conclude with a dinner at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter. A wide range of accommodation is available in Blackball.

Registration: wkcultur@gmail.com
Full festival: $80, including lunches and Saturday dinner. One day: $40. Session: $20