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From Cover to Cover
Mary McCallum: The echo of the Tuesday Poem
By Rachel O'Neill

Tuesday Poem The Tuesday Poem, an open-mike in the blogosphere for poets, has fast become a phenomenon with reach across the world. 'It is proving to be ‘a memorable hook for busy people,’ its initiator, Mary McCallum tells me. I chat to her on the phone on a rather wet Wellington day as she enthusiastically adds, ‘the evolving nature of the Tuesday Poem, and the fact that it’s driven by a motivated community of writers and bloggers, also means it’s a lot of fun.’

Tuesday Poem’s genesis can be traced to Mary’s blog O Audacious Book. In March, she posted two of her poems with 'Tuesday Poem' in the title, and then called on other blogging poets she knew to join her in posting a Tuesday Poem, linking to them at the bottom of her post. Ten poets – including two from the US – joined her, linking to Mary and to each other. Since then it has snowballed, generating an energetic community of contributors and readers, so much so that it has spawned a dedicated blog, simply and memorably called Tuesday Poem:

Every Tuesday, one of the Tuesday poets acts as editor and selects a ‘hub’ poem for the Tuesday Poem blog page. The live blogroll in the sidebar shows when the poet bloggers post their own Tuesday Poems, which are either written by the poet bloggers themselves, or by other poets. Tuesday Poem writers-bloggers generally note why they’ve chosen a particular poem and some engage in critical analysis. They spend time visiting each other’s blogs and giving feedback on the poems there. This mix of the personal and the discerning underscores the goodwill, generosity and sense of community that is behind the blog and its energetic following.

Mary compares her role on the blog to that of a ‘curator’, and she receives a huge amount of support from other bloggers, especially her ‘assistant curator’, blog-savvy artist and writer Claire Beynon. ‘Blogs attract followers for various reasons’, she tells me. ‘A successful blogger typically expresses a defined personality, and thrives on the immediacy of publishing online. Tuesday poets tend to be generous and open-minded and are able to share writing and thoughts in development as much as finished work.’

Mary is quick to enthuse that the Tuesday Poem blog removes boundaries, while also generating a strong literary echo. She notes that writers can feel geographically or creatively isolated and that the Tuesday Poem goes someway to remedying this. The Tuesday Poem’s viral membership means that a spontaneous and energised community of writers’ link up, encourage each other, communicate across distances, lift their profiles, and talk about what they’re reading and writing. Above all the Tuesday Poem emphasises the energy, inventiveness and sense of thrill that is at the heart of writing and reading poetry.

‘I love that we have so many South Island-based contributors and international writers involved,’ Mary says when I ask her about contributors. I should add that Mary talks animatedly about all contributors, and many of the poems posted so far. Those involved range from established writers to emerging; children’s authors to novelists; and poets to creative types who practice across the arts.

Frameworks and themes emerge from the posts, and in this way Tuesday Poem is a prime example of an open-mike in the blogosphere. On the blog you can experience what a poem is and how it works, and sometimes what works and what doesn’t by tracking comments, feedback and conversations. ‘There is also a certain amount of creative spin-off that can happen,’ Mary says, ‘with writers inspiring each other and new connections forming as a range of previously published poems and “works in progress” are put out there for discussion.’

Tuesday Poem writers-bloggers are as far flung as the US, Ireland, Greece, Philippines, England and New Zealand, and Tuesday Poem has been promoted by the likes of Graham Beattie and the Boston Poetry Union. In this way Tuesday Poem aims for inclusivity, and the echo generated amongst writers and readers is a refreshing one. It seems fitting to mention a post by Susan T. Landry, who harks from South Portland, in which she quotes Louise Bourgeois from the US artist’s book, Hours of the Day. I think immediately of what it takes to blog every Tuesday and discuss these poems with care and courage.

“Self-control means:
Do not show your arrow, idiot.
Do not make threats, stupid.
Do not frighten horses.
Do not rock the boats.
Do not push a tantrum.
Do not show your jealousy.
Do not show how much you care.”    


Mary McCallum is a fiction writer. Her award-winning novel, The Blue, was published in 2007, and it won the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction, and the Readers' Choice Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. She has won and been nominated for key awards and bursaries, and has published fiction and poetry in literary journals. Mary’s blog can be found here, O Audacious Book.

Rachel O'Neill is Project Coordinator at the Book Council. She works across the arts as a visual artist, writer, editor and commentator.

Five Easy Questions with Alexa Johnston

Before taking up her current role as a freelance curator and writer, Alexa Johnston was a curator at Auckland Art Gallery for 19 years. She is the author of several books, including an illustrated biography, Sir Edmund Hillary, An Extraordinary Life (2005), as well as two hugely successful cookbooks, Ladies, A Plate (2008) and A Second Helping (2009). We asked Alexa Five Easy Questions:

1. What did you enjoy most about working on the cookbooks?
I loved spending days in the kitchen trying out recipes, and not feeling as though I should be doing ‘real’ work; having lots of baking to give away to friends and  family; building up my collection of community cookbooks and spending hours searching through them; setting up the photographs, and choosing plates and cloths from my cupboards for each image. There’s nothing I didn’t enjoy about it really!

2. Which cookbooks do you reach for on your bookshelf most often?
They vary from season to season – at the moment I have four top favourites when I’m thinking about meals at home – all are books I’ve owned for decades.

1) Good Things by Jane Grigson, first published in 1971 and with chapters devoted to her favourite foods including many of mine, viz. Meat Pies, Parsley, Parsnips, Apples and Quince and Five French Cakes.
2) French Country Cooking by Elizabeth David, first published in 1951 and for me an absolutely perfect book. The content, the writing, the opinions and John Minton’s decorations are all impeccable – I could cook from this for the rest of my life (maybe with an occasional Japanese meal for variety...).
3) The Recipes that made a Million, by Franco Lagatolla with drawings by Enzo Apicella, first published in 1978. An innovative London restaurateur who began his career as a page boy at the Savoy Hotel, Lagatolla has recipes for a huge range of Italian foods, but his pasta with courgettes, or pumpkin, or cauliflower or even potatoes are my favourites – they are brief, accurate and absolutely delicious.  Apicella’s many skills include regular cartoons for Punch and his drawings are brilliant.
4) Middle Eastern Cookery by Arto der Haroutunian, first published in 1982. He was an architect who opened an Armenian restaurant in Manchester in 1970 and went on to write a number of good books on Middle Eastern food. I’m making a lot of his soups at the moment, but every now and then go back to my other favourite title: his Sweets and Desserts of the Middle East, 1984, superb semolina cakes and pastries.

3. Has your background in visual arts, and as a curator, come in handy when working on illustrated books?
I suppose it must have – it is one of the things that has shaped my life and my identity.  Most obviously in knowing what I want my photographs to look like, and in knowing that the creative ability of the designer of every book is a key to its success. All my books are designed by a small Auckland studio, Inhouse Design, led by Arch MacDonnell and the Inhouse team have become essential to my thinking about my books. They get a lot of baking too. . . .

4. Do you have a favourite illustrated book, non-fiction or otherwise?
Pantaloni by Bettina Ehrlich (Oxford University Press), first published in 1957. This was a childhood favourite; charming and funny and offering a glimpse of exotic Italian village life.  I remember every one of the delightful watercolours in the book – the author was also a painter – and I still look at it often. It is very well worn now, but still a treasure. In the adult line, I’d have to say John Minton’s ‘decorations’ – line drawings – for Elizabeth David’s French  Country Cooking are in a class of their own.

5. What is on your bedside table right now?
God is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith is Changing the World, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, (Penguin, 2009); Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table, a collection of essays from the New York Times, editor Amanda Hesser, (New York Times, 2009); Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen, by Elizabeth David, (Penguin 1970).

Alexa Johnston will be appearing at the Book Council's Culinary History of Cookery Meet the Author event on the 24th June, 6pm at Café L'affare, with Chair-Laura Kroetsch. See below for details.

Book Council News

Meet the author event: Culinary History of Cookery

Followers of food and food writing have the chance to meet one of our most exciting culinary minds at a Book Council event in Wellington next week. Cookery aficionado, Alexa Johnston, will speak about the rich and tantalising world of New Zealand cookery at the Book Council’s Culinary History of Cookery event at Caffe L’affare on June 24. Alexa Johnston, speaking with host Laura Kroetsch, will shine a light on the inspiring world of New Zealand cuisine, including those heart-warming dishes we can’t live without.

Alexa Johnston is the author of two hugely successful cookbooks, Ladies, A Plate (Penguin, 2008) and A Second Helping (Penguin, 2009). Laura Kroetsch is a long-time book reviewer, and she was the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week 2010 festival programme manager. She will chair the session, and with Alexa Johnston examine and chart cookery in New Zealand up to the present day.
Be in quick and get your tickets as attendance is limited.

Event Details:
Culinary History of Cookery, 24th June 2010, 6.00 – 7.30pm at Caffe L’affare, 27 College St, Te Aro, Wellington. Ticket: $16.00, ($14.00 NZ Book Council members). Tickets available Monday 10 May from the Information desk, Central Library. For more information visit the Book Council website.

For further information contact:
Noel Murphy: Phone: +64 4 499 1569, Fax: +64 4 499 1424,

Meet the author event: An hour with Elizabeth Knox

We are pleased to present an evening with Elizabeth Knox, chaired by Morrin Rout on 23 June. Elizabeth Knox is an adventurous and imaginative fiction writer, who has published several novels for adults and children, as well as autobiographical novellas. Her writing is never static, and she draws from a variety of genres, from historical drama, to science fiction, and memoir. Her novel, The Vintner's Luck, first published in 1998, was a huge success with readers and critics alike; winning a place on the 1999 Orange Prize shortlist. The award-winning author will speak about the sequel to The Vintner's Luck, The Angel's Cut, and her life and background as a writer.

Event details: An hour with Elizabeth Knox, 23rd June from 7.30pm at Our City O-Tautahi, Cnr Worcester Blvd & Oxford Tce, Christchurch. Tickets are $12, and can be purchased from Ruth on 03 384 4721 or Morrin on 03 329 9789

New to

Fast Fives from the Festival: Susanna Andrew worked out that if you hang around enough at festivals with a cameraman, sooner or later you will have an excellent range of superb mini-interviews on film.

You can now find fast and spontaneous video interviews with writers who appeared at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival from 12 - 16 May 2010. Writers featured are Jill Dawson, Elizabeth Smither, Paula Morris, Thomas Keneally, Alison Wong, William Taylor, Tessa Duder, and Anna Mackenzie. Writers were interviewed by Susanna Andrew, and are reproduced courtesy of Book TV NZ here.
Speed Date an Author

Speed Date an Author
inspires the Manawatu region

Ross Intermediate in Palmerston North hosted the first Speed Date an Author in Manawatu, on Wednesday 16 June. Speed Date an Author is the Book Council programme in which six brilliant writers talk to five groups of up to 10 students for 20 minutes each about a key aspect of writing, with a little help at the end from a top editor on how to edit their own work. Over the next few weeks, each student will write a 500-word story based on what they learned from these writers about how to generate ideas, character, plot, scene and other elements of a story.

The Manawatu event was fully subscribed, with 57 students from 14 schools involved in what was an inspiring day. The six writers involved were Fifi Colston, Janice Marriott, Fleur Beale, Diana Neild, David Hill and Judith Holloway. A further session was led by local writer Janet Slater Bottin. It was a fun and rewarding day for students, writers and teachers.
The Press Christchurch Writers festival supports
Speed Date an Author

We are excited to announce that The Press Christchurch Writers Festival will be the first New Zealand writers' festival to support a Speed Date an Author event as part of their schools programme. This event is targeted at junior high school students (years 9-11) and is likely to take place on the afternoon of Friday 10 September.

We aren't yet able to announce the writers involved in the event in Christchurch, but if you know your school would be interested in sending your talented student writers along, please contact Sarah Forster on, and she will keep you up with the play over the coming months.


May E-Newsletter correction

In our May e-newsletter feature article about the Book Council event True Stories Told Live we incorrectly named Kerry Harrison's name as Keri Jamieson. Our apologies.

More Interviews Online

Jam Radio presents a new audio series: Cultural Icons

Jam Radio (of Depot Artspace, Devonport) presents an invaluable asset to New Zealand’s arts sector with its ‘Cultural Icons’ programme; an accessible, informative and compelling series of interviews with iconic New Zealanders. The inspiration and impetus for the Cultural Icons project is to provide archives that capture the ideas, histories and personalities of contributors who have shaped the arts and culture scene over many years. The project is ongoing, with audio and film from the interviews made accessible online. 

The dialogues are between friends and contemporaries and so far form a fascinating cultural genealogy.  Hamish Keith, writer, art curator, arts consultant and social commentator interviews his long-time friend, the artist and conservationist, Barry Brickell; Martin Edmond, noted NZ novelist, essayist and author of 'The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont’ (1999) interviews Philip Clairmont’s partner Rachel Power and poet, biographer, musician and ecologist Denys Trussell interviews friend Dean Buchanan, painter. Other writers featured include Ian Wedde, David Eggleton, Vincent O’Sullivan, and Shonagh Koea. The audio interviews are accessible to all online and provided free of charge and can be found on the Jam Radio website here.

Fellowship, workshop, and competition applications

Tessa Duder Award

Storylines Trust and HarperCollins Publishers New Zealand are proud to announce an exciting new annual award on the children’s literary scene — the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for unpublished writers of fiction for young adults, named in honour of one of New Zealand’s best writers for this genre.

Unpublished writers looking for an opportunity to emulate the outstanding writing careers of Kiwi authors such as William Taylor, Kate De Goldi, Bernard Beckett or Tessa Duder herself will be excited by this new initiative.

The Tessa Duder Award will be administered by Storylines and sponsored by HarperCollins Publishers New Zealand. It will complete the line up of prestigious awards made annually by the Trust to writers for children in New Zealand. Entries for the inaugural award close on 31 October, with winners to be announced at the Storylines annual Margaret Mahy Day and International Children’s Book Day on Saturday 2 April 2011. The winner will receive $1500, and the possibility of a publishing contract with HarperCollins Publishers. Full details and criteria for entry are listed on the Storylines website here.

BNZ Literary Awards 2010

After 51 years, the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards are getting a facelift and are being renamed as the 'BNZ Literary Awards', with the Premier Award becoming the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award.

For over half a century BNZ has been proud to support New Zealand's preeminent Short Story writing competition, which was founded to acknowledge the work of Katherine Mansfield and celebrate New Zealand literature.

For many of New Zealand's famous writers, such as Frank Sargeson, Keri Hulme, Maurice Shadbolt, Charlotte Grimshaw and CK Stead, winning the main Award was where it all started. So make sure you send us your short story between 1 June and 23 July 2010. For more information visit the BNZ website here.

The New Zealand Book Council receives core funding from Creative New Zealand. We are extremely grateful to our funding partners, who enable us to deliver our programmes. We also value your membership, which supports our work in schools and communities throughout New Zealand.
Congratulations to Anne McKinnon and Corina Douglas, who both won a copy of The Night Book (Vintage, 2010), by award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw.

Congratulations also to Jan Simpson and Karen Huckstep who each won a copy of Owen Marshall's new collection of poetry, Sleepwalking in Antarctica and other poems (Canterbury University Press, 2010).

For those of you who like the sound of Boy Zero Wannabe Hero, we have two copies of The Petrifying Plot of the Plummeting Pants, the first book in the series, to give away this month. This fantastic book for 7-9 year old boys is soon to be released by Allen & Unwin, and is written by NZ author Peter Millett.

We also have two copies of The Awa Book of New Zealand Sports Writing (Awa Press, 2010), edited by Harry Ricketts, to give away. The book contains 80 pieces of writing, covering just about every imaginable sport, from rugby to archery.

Entries must be received by 12 noon on Monday 28 June. Please enter the draw by emailing, with the name of the book in the subject line, and your mailing address in the body of the email.

Each month an industry specialist tells us about three books they're looking forward to seeing in the bookshops in the months ahead.

Following hot on the heels of Helen Parsons' 'Watch out for' recommendations in last month's e-newsletter, Tilly Lloyd, co-owner of Unity Books, Wellington, gives us her pick of publications due out in July.

Bloomsbury will release The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi, winner of the Forward Poetry Prize in 2006. We've been looking forward to the arrival of this mildly-hyped debut, partly because of her poetic skills and partly because it looks like it might be another of those big rich sagas of immigration and political comment done so well already by Zadie Smith, Rohinton Mistry, Kiran Desai and Hanif Kureishi.
Bloomsbury will also release the paperback format of Anne Michaels' The Winter Vault, the long awaited follow-up to her Orange Prize winner Fugitive Pieces. Tackling hydro-electricity, anthropology, memory, desecration and re-creation, this is a novel with perfectly written personal interiors. 
Slightly connected, Hamish Hamilton will release Hopes and Prospects - new analysis and projections from the still-very-charismatic Noam Chomsky. He dissects various global fiascos (war and financial), and discusses his hope for the future and ways to move forward - seeing in the so-called democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements a 'real progress towards freedom and justice'.

Congratulations to the finalists of the 2010 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards. The 2010 Award Ceremony will take place in Wellington on Monday August 16th at Caffe L’affare, College Street. The LIANZA Children’s Book Award finalists are:

LIANZA Esther Glen Award (Fiction)
Friends: Snake & Lizard by Joy Cowley, Illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)
The Loblolly Boy by James Norcliffe (Longacre Press)
Top Secret: Pass it on by Jaqueline Chapman (Longacre Press)
Glory by Fifi Colston (Scholastic)
The Billionaires Curse by Richard Newsome (Te xt Publishing)

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