Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – 20 Oct 2020

From the Wellington City Library blog:


Image shows books by poets taking part in the Southern Writers event
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20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
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Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2763822373868512/

This event inaugurates the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.

Hop across to the Wellington City Library blog for further details of the poets and their latest books!

Images of authors taking part in the Southern Writers events

I’m Going To Party Vote Green This NZ Election. Here’s Why.

Early voting opened today in the 2020 New Zealand General Election. Like much of the electorate, I plan to vote early – but not today, because I suspect polling booths will be busy. When I do vote, I’m going to give my party vote to the Green Party, because they have put reducing inequality and taking meaningful action on the climate crisis at the core of their policies.

Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led Government deserves a lot of credit for the way they’ve handled successive crises: the Christchurch terrorist attacks, the Whakaari / White Island eruption, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister’s intelligence, compassion and crisis management skills have passed multiple tests.

But when the opportunity to make transformational, necessary change has come along, Labour have mostly fudged it: they’ve failed to provide genuinely affordable housing, done little to reduce inequality, backed off the idea of a capital gains tax to reduce land banking and property speculation, and doubled down on building new roads without doing anything to prevent those roads being filled with climate-destroying gas guzzlers. They’ve also failed to do enough to address the environmental and climate damage caused by the New Zealand economy’s dependence on low-value dairy exports.

The Greens have played an important role in pushing the Government to do more on climate justice, inequality and a transition away from fossil fuels, and I want them to keep playing that role in a second-term Labour-led Government. Because, left to its own devices, Labour will continue to act as if the real crises we face are no more than inconveniences. Plus, the Greens have some excellent candidates, and I want as many of them as possible to get into Parliament.

I’ve also been impressed by the leadership of Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, the co-leader of the Māori Party – whose climate and energy policies are excellent.

New Zealand First has acted as a handbrake on necessary action, including a just solution at Ihumātao, and I hope that Winston Peters’ party of failure and inaction is not represented in the next Parliament.

As for National? A Todd Muller-led National would have at least offered the possibility of some bipartisan action on climate change. But there’s no way Judith Collins – cynical, Trump-lite, Dirty Politics-espousing Judith Collins, with her climate denial and contempt for the natural environment – will ever get my vote. And nor will ACT, that unsavoury – but very 2020 – combination of libertarians and gun lobbyists.

Manawatū Writers’ Festival 2020

The Manawatū Writers’ Festival 2020 is going ahead on September 11-13 in Feilding – and I’m pleased to be on this panel:

Mary McCallumNicola EasthopeRenéeTim Jones, and Elspeth Tilley

Discussion Panel: Writing the World

Sunday 13 September, 3:15pm – 5:00pm

Be entertained by this panel of acclaimed authors as they robustly discuss how writing fiction or poetry can bring about social or political change and why a number of activists are now turning to these mediums.

Manawatu Writers festival logo

Check out the full programme and the participating authors – and consider getting along if you’re in that vicinity.

Here’s the Facebook page for the Festival: https://www.facebook.com/manawatuwritersfestival/

COVID-19 has done much, much worse than disrupt literary festivals – but it’s had a bad effect there too, with the Auckland Writers’ Festival cancelled, the Blackball Readers and Writers Festival postponed, and the World Science Fiction Convention virtualised – so it’s great to see the Manawatū Writers’ Festival 2020 going ahead.

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.