Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The galleries of the Chathams

My review of Rhys Richards' elegant and fascinating Manu Moriori is up at the Scoop Review of Books, the online journal founded in February to discuss 'important books that fail to get a look-in in the mainstream press', and present 'a different take on works by big name authors'. Worthy ambitions, I think you'd agree.

It's nice to get the thumbs up from Keri Hulme in the comments box under the review...

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice review. What was the significance of these drawings in their culture?

12:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This review contains yet another attack on a writer who is no longer alive to defend himself. Not content with smearing Bernard Gadd as anti-Maori, you now attack Kendrick Smithyman as anti-Moriori.

You are importing an alien antagonism into New Zealand letters, which has traditionally thrived on collegialty, not ideologically-motivated attacks.

Your methods are, I believe, wrong, and the way you are going I think that you will soon have trouble getting published in this country. How many more writers can you afford to attack? Don't forget that poets of the stature of Kendrick Smithyman have many friends, even after they have passed on.

You need to reconsider your approach. Grow up and stop confusing ideology with literary judgement.

2:12 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I'll defend my comments about Smithyman's poem 'The Last Moriori' when I have the time.

A Moriori blogger has responded to Rhys Richards' book:
http://rekohu.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/carvings-and-other-cultural-treasures-of-the-tchakat-henu/

3:02 pm  
Blogger dave said...

Someone has a snitch on Maps. Fancy not being allowed to critique someone who is dead?
What happens if a shit writer is already brain dead, do we suspend judgment out of politeness?
What happens if some long dead writer comes back to life, what would be a decent interval before we rush to push it back into the grave?
Literary criticism shorn of ideology, horrors, its already dead ly dull, like the anonymous commentator.
I hope when I'm dead someone remembers me long enough to criticise me.
Meanwhile how about identifying yourself as the brain of the living dead literary critic paling into a pure whiteness as the sun rises?

11:04 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Kia ora Scott- enjoyed your reply (worringly, those comments now seen disabled- I did download them so they're still around.)
The connection between Kai Tahu & Rekohu has fascinated me for yonks (I still meet people at Kai Tahu hui who talk about Solomon feet & hands- as though there was a known genetic connection/component 2/3 generations ago- and there are places on Banks Peninsula that have known Moriori connection.) The shared words - well, we Kai Tahu came south in the 17th century - maybe Moriori still had contact later than that? It is established that there was considerable interaction (such a polite term) between us, Mamoe, & the various tribes that made up Waitaha (my greatgrand-dad was Hawea, and thought of himself as Tahu...)
Let us not go into the nonsenses espoused by Brailsford (or worse- ever encountered Wiseman or Doutre??ARGH!) - I dont envy your encounters! Many thanks again for a great review - cheers n/n Keri

7:27 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Maps - yes - that is an interesting review. Remember how I wrote about this Moriori controversy, on my Blog EYELIGHT?

You are right about the detail of the three fingers...I have copy of a book on Maori carving...

Smithyman's poem is not bad as such - Smithyman is not equivalent to Eliot (or Eliot so "bad " in my view either - in fact Eliot's line "The Jew squats in the estaminet" is not really that bad either...)

These misconceptions of races - sometimes these misconceptions reflect truth BTW - do exist.

We have to be honest and acknowledge we don't really like (this is a deep down genetic/Freudian thing in fact) certain other races - we are programmed that way. We are genetically xenophobic.

So I cop it, for being human, from some pious member of the Thought Police!

Give me room to breathe!

The PC po-faced police (many who I suspect are dour and dried up inebriate Marxists - those who "potted me" about my humour recently)(these poeple lack humour in my view they are dangerous)) are as bad as the talk back rednecks - people who cant laugh are sick. They are dangerous: I = quate or ~mate Stalinism and Nazism - a lot of these so-called socialists drift over toward a fascination with power...

To 'anonymous' (these ubiquitous cowards and critics or PC people are always hiding bend "anonymous") who objects to Maps reference to Smithyman - Smithyman has always been greatly significant to Maps and he holds his writing in high regard as I do - he was possibly NZ's greatest poet for his time - the poem the quote is from
is far more than statement of a "dying" or decayed race...

Like all of S's work it is complex and deep - it goes beyond race etc

But I also criticised Bernard Gadd BTW in Pandar* (when he was alive) - now I told him where he was going wrong in his writing but he didn't change - I could see the potential in his writing but as he didn't listen to me he never fulfilled his abilities - so anonymous who doesn't want crit. of dead writers etc - sorry - writers will always be criticised - dead or alive...

WE of course could be completely wrong about - Gadd but he gets no priviliges for being dead.
And if he was or is any good - time may or should look after him... but time can also be rather cruel and ruthless as it happens.

Myself - I don't care [o.k. I do - but I don't - that much!] - I mean I know I will die [I am at the short end of my own life] and I may not be considered anything - [we all eventually disappear - re-read Gray's very great poem "Elegy in a Country Churhyard", or visit graveyard and note how many people are in fact totally forgotten as there is no one who knows them - their graves have no markers or flowers by them - all who knew them are dead...they are unremembered...they are are obliterated by time and history if they were ever in history... perhaps not even as good as Gadd - [in reality when I contemplate death (as Montaigne maintained he always did) it all seems trivial to me - life as lived is what I am not interested in prizes and so on] but those things are a part of a - hmmm - a kind of old fashioned view that is echoed in fact in this hierarchical thing Maps refers to [all societies - Maori, Moriori (less so and in their own demense perhaps there was hope in their ideas of tolerance etc...hmmm..interesting... but there were forces outside them unfortunately) Pakeha, whatever have it..there are very few working democracies...may never be any - the Moriori made a big mistake - to survive a group needs to fight - o.k I realise cooperation is also very important, but you have to operate from a position of strength...] - BTW I believe that we are - as a society - inevitably and always hierarchical and even also xenophobic (we are also paradoxically capable of cooperation and many other very great things as well as the "horrific" things) ... but that is another story.

We need to FACE what we are, however.

And if Smithyman writes a poem that someone objects to - that is par for the course: his poem is part of the reality;...ideally we need - as writers as much freedom as possible - but that freedom is always curtailed...

It is good that more information is spread about Maori and history and the Moriori also for we as Pakeha are bound up in these histories...in some ways -in many ways we owe them Maori - they may owe us - but we must learn of their cultures also... perhaps in time we can offset our antagonisms and suspicions - perhaps there is hope.

* And I very much wanted that to be open so people knew who was criticising them...

1:01 am  

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