Raewyn reviews the launch
Auckland writer and editor Raewyn Alexander has written a generous review of last Thursday's book launch. Her take on the event will appear in issue five of Magazine, which will be launched in November with the theme 'Utu, justice'. Issue four of Magazine is out now - copies cost $25 apiece, and can be ordered from BF Publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alleluya Cafe, St. Kevin’s Arcade Karangahape Road
Titus Books’ Launch
Luce Cannon by Will Christie
To the Moon, in Seven Easy Steps by Scott Hamilton
Conversation with a Stone by Richard Taylor,
launched by Olwyn Stewart, music by The Vietnam War.
Hail, rain and bitter cold notwithstanding, I braved the late afternoon and caught a bus to the venue I always love, Alleluya Cafe. An event about to take place, a book launch where I could buy a book or three, hear some readings and talk with people. In this case, live music was also played.
Reviews of the three books follow this response to the launch.
Richard Taylor’s poetry my prime reason for freezing in Awkward City (til I reached the heavenly close of Alleluya). I wanted to see what he’d developed, after all we were Poetry Brats together. Also, I find Taylor’s writing ingenious, displaying much insight and clever humour.
Titus Books seem to be creating quite a spark and stir around the country. The other two poets, Will Christie and Scott Hamilton I did not know that well, but Titus publish good, challenging work as far as I’ve seen. (They are also about to launch David Lyndon Brown’s first novel, a really eerie tale I know from workshopping the manuscript, and I was pleased to see Olwyn Stewart’s novella appeared through Titus last year, I think).
The band’s name another reason for my foray, ‘Who would call a band The Vietnam War?’ I kept blurting in amazement. Their strange, dramatic but gentle country-punk, or is that country-emo? really suited the gothic weather anyway. Their new singer Lucy makes them all look good, I’d say and she sounded like an angel who knows how to mend glass with fire. The band really tight too, playing for instance a version of 'Dock of the Bay' speeded up, which still made ‘wasting time’ make golden sense by some alchemy in their practice.
The Vietnam War set the mood with their wry drone and twangs, we settled in for challenging poetry ably launched by Olwyn Stewart, with a succinct overview of each poet’s writing. ‘These writers all do have something worthwhile to say,’ she said in conclusion, and they did.
Scott Hamilton told a story about pasting up posters by the artist who designed his book cover. The posters showed GW Bush with a moko. Someone passing, while Scott and co., pasted away, asked if that fellah GW was a Maori. Scott said he guessed so. The passer-by exclaimed, ‘Ahhh, must be one of those Ngapuhi, I bet.”
Hamilton’s poetry left me with a lot to think about, he read clearly and his spiral logic with some quantum vaults to the moon did seem like easy steps, maybe there were seven, as well.
The publisher left good time to ponder before introducing Richard Taylor. Readings from Conversation with a Stone soared, fluttered and stomped, everything a dance would do if it changed into poetry. Taylor read with aplomb. Another ex-Poetry Brat wished Taylor the best, Yves Harrison appeared for a short while. Yves also grown up, maybe we’ve all moved on, well?
Will Christie read then, and her poetry from Luce Cannon displayed such assortment, lucidity and surprise that it seemed like time hovered with my mind. The effect of rain and traffic noise behind the end of Christie’s reading also sounded like vibration-music that suited her words, as well as anything especially orchestrated. I googled luce for a definition I think the urban dictionary, number three meaning, is the most apt. You could agree or not, poetry holds many meanings and Christie’s perhaps more than most.
A lot of this aside as far as one patron thought. He spluttered at me earlier when The Vietnam War played, ‘What language is that they are singing in?’
When I replied it seemed like American country maybe, kind of, he scowled. Later, after all the poetry, he got up and sang a powerful 'Po Kare Kare Ana' and 'Hoki Mai', complete with Maori-guitar styles. Many people danced, including some of the Vietnam War, and I got the chance to have a good sing in the audience.
Alleluya Cafe staff cheery, cool and helpful as usual. They placed chairs on tables slowly and the crowd edged along, chatting, til we were more or less out of there, without realising we’d gone. Not even a smelly cab home could ruin my good mood, I just opened the cab window for good air and let the city stream past, rain gone by then. Reviewing events could evolve into one of my best habits with any luck, wish me some.
Auckland, New Zealand,12th April 2007