Start a trend and snowball votes for the People’s Choice Award

Voting opens today for the People’s Choice award in the New Zealand Post Book Awards, and closes 15 August, 8pm.

Vote in the 2014 People's Choice Award We want to see as many people as possible pick their favourite books for the 2014 People’s Choice award for New Zealand authored books. We’re distributing voting slips in bookstores and libraries around New Zealand and you can also vote online, but we’re thinking big this year.

We want to see ideas grow large in the online community, so we’ve put together some cool tools to help people get behind the People’s Choice award online. We would love to see you get behind your favourite!

Resources for running the campaign for your favourite book
• Use the Book trailer tributes we’ve created to promote one of the finalist books for People’s Choice on your Facebook page or website.
• Use the poetry readings and fiction finalists video reviews – share them on your Facebook page, or embed them on your website. The video reviews are presented by some of New Zealand’s most enthusiastic bookstore staff, and the poetry readings are all by our multi-talented Poetry Day coordinator, Miriam Barr.
• Use our Facebook cover images – we’re highlighting categories with these this year. Post them on your Facebook page to show support and encourage voting for the category you choose. Or make your own – we would love to see it if you do!
• Post a copy of our finalist posters on your site, and link to our Booksellers_choice_posterPeople’s Choice vote online app. The Posters are downloadable from the resources page of our website.
• Write a blog post about a book that particularly impressed you and add a ‘Vote for People’s Choice’ widget alongside it. You’ll find the widgets on our website too. Widgets are great for bloggers or people with reading and book-related websites like bookstores, publishers, schools and libraries. Post one on your website homepage to encourage your customers to vote for their favourite book, or even the book you’re punting for – I know publishers will love that one!
• We’re talking about what’s happening in the awards on Twitter using #nzpba, we hope you’ll add comments about the books you’re enjoying.

Voting is open from 23 July – 15 August and the winners will be announced at the New Zealand Post Book Awards ceremony on Wednesday, 27 August 2014.

by Amie Lightbourne, Awards Manager at Booksellers NZ

Unravelling the National Grid: Anne Kennedy

Unravelling the National Grid: Anne Kennedy, chaired by Michael Moynahan
1.45am, 10 March, Embassy Theatre

An excited crowd filled the Embassy TheatreAnne Kennedy 2012 to see writer Anne Kennedy (right) in discussion with Michael Moynahan. Let’s get right down to it: as a poet, novelist, and script writer, Kennedy is one of New Zealand’s most versatile and innovative writers. Her first book of poetry, Sing-Song, was named Poetry Book of the Year at the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and her latest, The Darling North, won the Poetry section of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

While Kennedy is best known for her poetry, the session focused on her most recent novel, The Last Days of the National Costume, which is set during the 1998 power blackout in Auckland. The “charming and heartwarming novel about illicit love, sewing, blackouts and Belfast” centres on the seamstress GoGo, moving from her interior world to a broader picture of economic decline. Kennedy stated that she wanted the novel to explore the “westward slope of their middle-class status,” her main theme being the “agony of plenty” or a middle-class malaise that has set into GoGo’s life.

cv_the_last_days_of_the_national_CostumeWhile the subject matter sounds serious, Moynahan called the novel playful and funny, and Kennedy cited writers such as Peter Carey and Janet Frame as also using humour to write about painful themes. “Humour makes the reader let their guard down, and then they’re open to what’s coming,” she said, stating that the 90s were a more innocent time before events such as 9/11. One of Kennedy’s goals with The Last Days of the National Costume was also to tell the story of Irish New Zealanders; Kennedy herself grew up in an Irish New Zealand family: “The story of the Irish in New Zealand hasn’t been told enough in fiction,” she asserted. And why Auckland? “I love place in literature,” she said, going on to say that Auckland is not featured often enough in fiction.

While Moynahan focused on Kennedy’s fiction, he did ask how, when a new idea arises, Kennedy decides whether to write a poem or a novel. To answer, Kennedy stated that her first collection of poetry was meant to be non-fiction, and her second collection, The Time of the Giants, a novella. This lead Kennedy to discuss her beliefs about creativity, asserting that “everyone is born artistic.” For Kennedy, creativity requires “a departure from the known,” and every project is a way to test her creative boundaries. In saying that, she also revealed that her experience in the film industry means the commonly used “three act structure” can be found in many of her books. For her own students (Kennedy teaches at Manukau Institute of Technology and has previously taught fiction and screenwriting at the University of Hawai`i) Kennedy wants to make sure they are able to explore their own creativity while understanding that practice is important. “Most writers learn if you keep going you’ll get there,” she said.

The highlight of the session was Kennedy’s wonderful reading of a section from The Last Days of the National Costume; when she stopped the disappointment was almost audible. The audience would have happily let one of New Zealand’s most genuine, poised, and knowledgeable writers read well into the next session.

by Sarah Jane Barnett on behalf of Booksellers NZ

Email digest: Monday, 19 August 2013

Book reviews
Book Review: The Meeting Place. Māori and Pākehā Encounters 1642-1840

Book Review: The Lifeguard: Poems 2008-2013, by Ian Wedde

Author interviews
Damien Wilkins on his new job, and exciting new book ‘Max Gate’

Sarah Laing’s speaking at the National Library on Thursday!  Get primed by listening to her on RNZ

Eleanor Catton will feature at an Australia / NZ Literary BBQ next Thursday in London

Lloyd Jones’ memoir A History of Silence releases this Friday. Join @nzlisteners Guy Somerset for a Q&A with Lloyd

Crisis and creative opportunities in post-quake Christchurch

Sarah Laing, Paula Green, Stephanie Johnson & Charlotte Grimshaw talk at Old Government House this Wednesday

Book News
Despite appearances in cyberspace, the Booksellers NZ office is closed today due to the Friday

Crime writing fan? Go vote for your favorite short story in Bloody Scotland’s competition!

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize has re-focused its 2014 prizes to concentrate on the Short Story. It will no longer offer the Book Prize.

The Luminaries is now available as an ebook – click on the mebook button on the page.

Margo Lanagan has won the CBCA Older Readers book of the year for her book Sea Hearts 

Awards News
Have you read #nzpba finalist The Search for Anne Perry by Joanna Drayton? Here’s your chance to win a copy!

Meet the freshly-minted winners of the #nzpba the very next day

From around the internet
17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand

Educators and parents, here’s a handy list of books categorized by what writing skill they teach

16 bookstores to see before you die – step 1, take a really amazing old building

Ah Buzzfeed, you do it again. Life advice from Black Books.

Book Review: Pat Hanly, by Gregory O’Brien & Gil Hanly

This book is in bookstores now, and is a finalist in the Illustrated Non-fiction category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards

Hanly std cover

I remember when I first saw one of Pat Hanly’s paintings. I was working as part of the exhibitions team at Te Manawa, Palmerston North’s art gallery and museum, when the curator wheeled out this exuberant and dynamic painting, which I was to learn was a Hanly. Born in Palmerston North, Hanly’s work seemed to exemplify the aesthetics I associated with the sixties and seventies: bright colours and shapes with political undertones. This is why I was interested to read in the retrospective of his work, Pat Hanly, that Hanly’s paintings departed from the “sombre, monochromatic and rooted” work that New Zealand painters were doing at the time. In his introduction to this incredible book, curator Gregory O’Brien states: “Hanly was that rare thing in mid-20th-century New Zealand art … His work came as a surprise to the light-sensitive retinas of the gallery-going public. Here was a painter of dazzling sunshine rather than the dusk or night-time.”

This is only one of the reasons why the book, Pat Hanly, will be so welcomed. And what a book! As well as containing 190 full page plates, and over 150 smaller images and photographs, the book also includes personal essays by Hanly’s colleagues and friends, and an essay and commentary by O’Brien. The combination of stories, memories, biographical information, and scholarly writing, provides readers with a complex and rounded view of Hanly as both a man and an artist. This allows many ways for a reader to access Hanly’s work, whether it be through descriptions of his “charismatic … and restless, nervous energy,” or his artistic philosophies.

 Paradise Bird Escapes Bather

Paradise Bird Escapes Bather, Oil on canvas, 1015 x 1525

The book is structured chronologically, although O’Brien notes that the structure also acknowledges the “cyclical nature of [Hanly’s] career, with its loops and reprises.” After documenting Hanly’s early family life, the book follows him to art school in Christchurch in the 1950s where “male students usually wore corduroy pants, tweed sports coats and polo-neck jerseys, while the girls tended to be close imitations of their mothers: twin-sets, pearls and sensible shoes.” While reading about his student days I was suddenly nostalgic for my own time at art school (admittedly in the 1990s – but how little has changed), and this signaled one of the strengths of the book: it evokes a strong sense of time and place.

The book then moves to London, where Hanly lived and travelled with Gil Taverner (who he’d met at art school, and is an artist in her own right), their marriage, and the birth of their first child, Ben, in the late 1950s. The London essay also provides an incredible sense of time and place, which works to elucidate Hanly’s artistic preoccupations with our capacity for self destruction (especially in terms of nuclear war), which manifested in series of paintings such as Massacre of the Innocents (1961-1962).

Hanly and his family returned to New Zealand in the 1960s, and the book documents Hanly’s light and lush paintings of the 60s, his murals of the 70s and 80s (some of Hanly’s most iconic work), and his more abstract and political works of the 80s onward, which includes O’Brien’s essay on Hanly’s life in Auckland, where he and Gil made their home. While Hanly’s work responded to the intense social change that happened in New Zealand from the 1960s through to the 1980s, O’Brien calls him an “expressionist whose work was disarmingly angst-free.” I was interested to see how a book – even one as glossy and large as Pat Hanly – would handle the murals, but the high quality foldout reproductions do them justice.

The book ends with a detailed chronology of Hanly’s life that includes excerpts from personal letters, reviews, his journal, and manifestoes, and it seems to suggest that there is more to be said about the man and the painter than will fit into one volume. Pat Hanly is a wonderful book. I am not surprised that it has been selected as a finalist for the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Reviewed by Sarah Jane Barnett (

Pat Hanly
Essay by Gregory O’Brien
Contributions from John Coley, Quentin MacFarlane, Dick Ross and Barry Lett
Photographic Editor Gil Hanly
Book Dimensions: 300 x 300 mm x 276 pages
Published by Ron Sang Publications
ISBN 9780473208646

For more artwork, go here to the Ron Sang Publications website

Book Review: The Intentions Book, by Gigi Fenster

This book is in bookstores now, and is a finalist in the Fiction cv_the_intentions_bookcategory of the New Zealand Post Book Awards

There’s something not quite right about Morris. Highly intelligent and very good at his job as a metadata analyst, Morris is comfortable in the world of numbers, facts and lists.  But without his recently deceased wife Sadie, Morris finds himself adrift in the social aspects of life, where people expect him to act and react in ways he can’t predict.  Jokes confuse him, he does not like to be touched, he can’t explain his job, and it seems that he cannot cry.

When Morris’ adult daughter, Rachel, fails to return from a solo tramping trip in the Tararuas by her indicated “panic time”, the search and rescue co-coordinator asks the family what she is like; what kind of person is Rachel?  Morris’ son David, and sister-in-law Wendy turn to Morris because “she’s like you.” Morris must turn inwards to discover exactly what he is like, why he is the way he is, and whether the ‘wrongness’ his daughter may have inherited from him is something that may have contributed to her being lost and alone in the challenging Tararua Range.  He begins to ‘talk’ to his late wife, re-examining himself, his childhood and the significant events of his life, in part to see if he can discover any kind of truth that may lead him to his daughter.

The Intentions Book is masterful in that very little happens, in terms of the immediate event – the search for Rachel – and yet it is very difficult to put down.  A brilliant study of character and relationships, the exploration of Morris takes us inside the head of the type of man who is rarely granted the role of protagonist.  The oddness that Morris senses in himself but that he can’t quite explain, becomes clear to the reader through a series of beautifully crafted, gradually unfolding vignettes, snippets of Morris’s childhood, adolescence, and early teens.  The oddness, we see, is not a wrongness, but just a different kind of normal, and Morris begins to find a new kind of peace with himself in a world without Sadie, his anchor.

The tramping theme that permeates the book situates it firmly in New Zealand, and gives the book its title – the intentions book being a notebook in which a tramper details his or her intended route and timeline. However, this tale doesn’t have the slightly self-conscious gloominess that I have noticed in a lot of contemporary New Zealand writing.  It’s very hard to believe that The Intentions Book is Gigi Fenster’s debut novel, and it comes as no surprise that she has had short stories published previously. Fenster’s characters are believable, flawed and engaging, and in the book’s exploration of their relationships with one another in a time of crisis, I think all readers will find a little bit of themselves to explore.

I have only one small, logistical gripe – the ink on the pages of the book blurs when wet, so I would not recommend you read this in the bath!  But I do recommend that you read it, and it is certainly a worthy finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Reviewed by Renee Boyer-Willisson

The Intentions Book
by Gigi Fenster
Published by Victoria University Press
ISBN 9780864738233

National Poetry Day 2013 events, Friday 16 August

We are so impressed with the quantitynzpba2012 and quality of the events happening all over New Zealand to celebrate this National Poetry Day on Friday 16 August, we thought we might do an all-on-one-blog summary of everything that is happening. From sidewalk chalking, to poetry slams; from poetry competition awards events, to journal launches; and from school events to an all out house-party, this Poetry day we’ve got it all.

The event descriptions are shortened versions of what is available here on our calendar. Many of these events you will need to RSVP or register for, please check the full information before heading off on your poetry adventure.

Bay of Plenty
Hawke’s Bay
Kapiti Coast
Hutt Valley

Poetry Phone 309.POEM
Call 09 309 POEM on National Poetry Day

Landmarks with The Literatti
Voyager Maritime Museum, Viaduct, Auckland , 10.00am – 5.00pm
There is a Lunchtime Performance from 12.00 – 1.00pm
Join The Literatti at the Voyager Maritime Museum to experience innovative local performance poetry with a free lunch-time show while an all-day interactive poetry exhibit gives you the rare opportunity to read The Literatti’s work on the page and contribute to a collaborative poem being created by the public throughout the day.

Chalking Station Square Newmarket
Station Square Newmarket, 1.00-2.00pm
All welcome to write poetry on the paving. Chalk provided. Wet or fine. We are supported by Paper Plus (Newmarket).

Poetry Central 2013
Whare Wananga, Level 2, Auckland Central LIbrary, 44-46 Lorne Street, 5.30 – 7.00pm
Celebrate National Poetry Day with wine, poetry, performances, and prizes. Join us in celebrating National Poetry Day and the NZ Electronic Poetry Centre’s 12th birthday with live poetry readings by Janet Charman, Murray Edmond,  Michele Leggott, Jack Ross, Lisa Samuels, Robert Sullivan, and New Zealand Post Book Awards finalists Ian Wedde, and Anne Kennedy.

Minarets Journal
USEC: Union Street Event Centre , 47 Union St, Auckland, 6.30 –10.00pm
Usual Suspects: Minarets 12–13
This National Poetry Day, Minarets Journal celebrates the success of its first year of quarterly publication (Issue 1, Aug 2012 – Issue 4, Jul 2013). This reading event features poets from all four issues.

The Divine Muses X Poetry Reading
Gus Fisher Art Gallery, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland  6.30 – 8.30pm
The Divine Muses, an annual poetry reading featuring a stellar line-up of New Zealand poets. The guest readers for Divine Muses X will be C. K. Stead, Albert Wendt, Riemke Ensing, Kiri Pihana Wong, Siobhan Harvey and MC, Rosetta Allen.

National Poetry Day House Party
Hum Salon, Grafton Bridge, 9.00pm – early hours of Saturday morning
To celebrate National Poetry Day Page2Stage and Printable Reality are hosting a house party at that big old mansion in Grafton. Prepare for adventures around every corner, down every hallway, and spilling out on to the lawn. Featuring arts & crafts with Raewyn Alexander in the Writing Room, and a special spoken word set from the infamous Tourettes in the Reading Room, a night of renegade madness and music awaits. $5 on the door R18

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Open Mic Night
Garden Place Library, 9 Garden Place, Central Hamilton, 6.00 – 9.00pm
Join Poets Alive and special guests for a fantastic evening of poetry at Open Mic Night. Read one of your own or one written by one of your favourite poets or just listen to the work on offer.

Poetry & Spoken Word Slam
Stack, Garden Place Library, 9 Garden Place, Central Hamilton, 6.00 – 9.00pm
Poetry & Spoken Word Slam: Free to enter. Prizes & spot prizes .

Bay of Plenty
Having fun with poetry
Matahui Primary School, 10.00 – 11.00am
A visit to a primary school getting the children involved with different forms of poetry including lots of visual dues and movement.

Katikati Student Writers’ Club
Katikati College, 3.15 – 4.30pm
A visit to an after-school young writers’ group encouraging them to read their favourite poems, create poems and discuss the different forms of poetry.

Open Mic poetry Night at Kumeu Arts Centre
Kumeu Arts Centre, 300 Main Road, Huapai, 7.00 – 9.30pm
To celebrate National Poetry Day 2013 Kumeu Arts Centre is holding a Poetry ‘Open Mic Night’, all welcome to come along and recite your own or your favourite poetry or to hear other poetry. Poet, Dawn Kendall will be M.C for the evening.

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Hawke’s Bay
Napier: Reveal of our Knitted Poem
Beattie & Forbes Booksellers, Napier, 5.30 – 6.30pm
Come and join us to the reveal of our competition winning poem that with community involvement we have had knitted and sewn together. All welcome, drinks and nibbles will be provided.

Wairoa: Freeing your inner poet
Wairoa Arts Society Room, 1:00 – 3.00pm
Freeing your Inner Poet”- a free workshop for beginners. Bring notebook and pen, any poems you have already written, and your sense of fun. Please register by phoning Trish Lambert 06 838 7684

Wairoa: Open Mic event
Vista Motel Lounge, Wairoa, 7.00 – 9.30pm
Nau mai Haere mai. An Open Mic event will be held at the Vista Motel Lounge. Entry is free. Come and read your poems, or just to listen.

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Local poets share their creations
Taupo Post Shop, 12:00 – 1.30pm
Poetry reading in the Post Shop hosted by Live Poets and Postmaster Dennis Jenkins. Come and hear local poets share their creations. Bring along your own to share. All welcome.

Poetry Marathon
Whanganui Regional Museum, 12.30 – 2.30pm
Students from local schools will read original poems. Book vouchers and spot prizes are up for grabs in three age categories.

Street Corner Talking
Mischief on Guyton Cafe, Guyton Street, Whanganui, 6.00 – 7.00pm
Local poets Chris Moisa, Lee ‘Thomo’ Thompson and Airini Beautrais will read their work, accompanied by visual projections.

“16” Free Performance at Gladstone Vineyard
Gladstone Vineyard, Gladstone, 6.00 – 8.30pm
Featuring Agnes Jones, Carterton / Anne Taylor, Greytown / Catherine Day, Gladstone / Clare McLennan-Kissel, Masterton / Gaye Sutton, Carterton / Janette Gerritsen, Masterton / Jo Thorpe, Cape Palliser / Jodie Dalgleish, Kaipororo -Mount Bruce / John Ansell, Martinborough / Justine Eldred, Greytown / Kerry Popplewell, Pahiatua / Madeleine Slavick, Carterton / Mary Buckner, Masterton / Pat White, Gladstone / Rhondda Greig, Matarawa / Simon Fleck, Featherston

Poetry reading and open mic
Paraparaumu Library, 9 Iver Trask Place, Paraparaumu, 7.00-8.30pm
Poetry reading by Rob Hack followed by Open Mic and announcement of Kapiti Coast District Libraries poetry contest prize-winners.

Hutt Valley
Upper Hutt:13th Annual Poetry Competition Prize Giving
Upper Hutt Library, 844 Fergusson Drive, Upper Hutt
Featuring Glenn Colquhoun and the winners of the Poetry Competition

Lower Hutt:  “Landscapes” Poetry of the river, sea and hills; Poetry reading and open mic
St Marks Church Complex. 58 Woburn Road, Lower Hutt, 7.30– 9.30pm
Come and hear poetry of the river, sea and hills. Poets from around the region will read their poetry on the theme of landscapes. We will have an open mic and a place to display your written poetry and any books you have published.

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Finalists in discussion
Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, Wellington, 12:00 – 12:45
Join us at lunchtime to hear fiction finalists, Gigi Fenster and Emily Perkins, and winner of the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book for Fiction award, Lawrence Patchett in discussion with Fergus Barrowman of VUP.

Buller’s Birds of New Zealand illustrated talk
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 12:15 – 13:15
Geoff Norman, author of the award-winning Buller’s Birds of New Zealand: the Complete Work of JG Keulemans from Te Papa Press, will give an illustrated talk about the fascinating history of ‘Buller’s Birds’, some of our country’s most recognised and reused images, seen on everything from billboards to cake tins. $5 entry.

Hue & Cry, Selected Poems
The Moorings (31 Glenbervie Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington), 6.00 – 8.00pm
Hue & Cry Selected Poems Award-winning Wellington writers read some of their favourite New Zealand poems in an evening event. Featuring: Lawrence Patchett, Pip Adam, Sarah Jane Barnett, Therese Lloyd, Steven Toussaint, Isobel Cairns, and Rachel Sawaya.

Poetry Flash Mobs
Trafalgar St and Elma Turner Library, 1.00 – 2.00pm
Look out for Nayland College performance students popping up with words and poems on Trafalgar St. near Page & Blackmore Booksellers and at the Elma Turner Library prior to the Open Mic Poetry session!

UBS: Poetry For Lunch
University Bookshop Canterbury, 12.30 – 1.30pm
Featuring Feffrey Paparoa Holman, Bernadette Hall and James Norcliffe will give readings, as will UBS’s 2013 Poetry Competition winner

A Celebration of Hagley Poets
The Writers’ Block, Hagley Community College, Hagley Ave, Christchurch, 6.00 – 7.30pm
Hagley Writers’ Institute invites all poets and lovers of poets to join them in poetry readings to celebrate NZ National Poetry Day. Students and graduates of the Institute have been asked to write poems in response to the artworks which are part of the Outerspaces exhibitions curated by the Chch Art Gallery.

Phantom Billstickers Presents: Kiwi Poets
Addington Coffee Co-op, Christchurch, 7.30pm

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National Poetry Day 2013: Poetry Portal
Port Chalmers Library, Beach Street, Port Chalmers, 6.30 – 8.00pm
Enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles in the company of seven wonderful Dunedin poets, in the cosy confines of Port Chalmers Library. Featuring: Rhian Gallagher, Emma Neale, Vincent O’Sullivan, Brian Turner, Lynley Edmeades, David Goodwin. MC: Sue Wootton

J & K Rolling on Whistle Stop tour
Gore Library Friday 16 August, 10.30am
Winton Library Friday 16 August, 2.00pm
Invercargill Library 17 August, 10.30am
Jenny Powell and Kay McKenzie Cooke will be heading south to celebrate National Poetry Day. Local poets are welcome to participate at each stop. After Jenny and Kay have read they will be happy to answer questions.

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