The Blackball Readers and Writers Festival 2021

I last visited the West Coast in 1989, when I returned to Haast Beach, where I’d lived as a young child. (Here’s my poem about that return journey: Shetland Ponies, Haast Beach – and below is Lake Brunner, near Blackball.)

Lake Brunner, West Coast, South Island

For that and many other reasons, I was very glad to be invited as a guest to the Blackball Readers and Writers Festival – originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed till 2021.

I enjoyed getting to know the village of Blackball, where as the map below shows there is a lot going on. I enjoyed listening to the sessions, which gave so much more opportunity to get to know writers than the usual two-questions-and-on-to-the-next-panelist format of larger writers’ festivals. AndI enjoyed the panel I was on, where Caroline Selwood interviewed Kathleen Gallagher and I about wiring and activism, and what motivates us as writers.

Map of Blackball

Blackball is a remarkable community, which both acknowledges and celebrates its mining past and is actively seeking to move beyond it. Here’s more about Blackball, the Festival, and Blackball’s role in promoting a Justice Transition away from fossil fuels for the West Coast:

– Festival Report: Readers & Writers Festival successful
– Radio NZ: Blackball – the town that refused to die
Coast future highlighted at May Day forum

A Mainland Double: Tales For Canterbury and the Readers And Writers Alive! Festival

 
Tales For Canterbury

In just over a month since the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February, editors Cassie Hart and Anna Caro have done an amazing job of pulling together Tales for Canterbury, a fundraising anthology to benefit the victims of the earthquake, with all proceeds going to the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.

Tales for Canterbury is now available for pre-order as an ebook (in pdf, mobi, and epub format) and as a paperback – I’ve just ordered my paperback copy. It should be published in April, so you won’t have long to wait for it.

There’s a blog detailing the progress of the anthology, and if you’re not sure whether you’d like one, you might want to check out the list of contributors. There are a few names there you might know – Neil Gaiman, for example; not to mention Janis Freegard, Gwyneth Jones, Jay Lake, Helen Lowe, Tina Makereti, Juliet Marillier, Jeff Vandermeer, Sean Williams, and many, many more fine writers. I am honoured to have a story in such company.

Readers And Writers Alive! Festival (Invercargill)

I lived in Southland between the ages of four and sixteen, and though that’s, well, several years ago now, I have written a lot of poetry about and set in Southland, and have even set a science fiction story in Gore.

So it has always been a private ambition of mine to take part in a Southland literary event, and I’m delighted to say that this ambition is about to be realised. I’m going to be a participant in the Readers and Writers Alive! programme of the Southland Arts Festival 2011, organised by the Dan Davin Literary Foundation, for whom Helen Lowe is currently running writing workshops.

I’m taking part in two events: a poetry reading featuring Joanna Preston, Kay McKenzie Cooke and Lynley Dear on Friday 29 April; and a writing workshop the following day. For that, I’ll remove my poet’s beret and put on my SF writer’s battered propellor beanie to run a workshop on “Writing Different Worlds”. I have to return to Wellington that night, so I’m unfortunately going to miss Joanna’s poetry workshop the following day, which should be excellent.

Reading with friends, and with poets I admire; getting an extended time to run a spec fic writing workshop; and returning to the scene of my youthful (mis)deeds. It’s all good.