Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Janet Frame Poetry Prize: essa may ranapiri (2023)

Poet essa may ranapiri (Ngaati Raukawa, Waikato Tainui, Te Arawa, Ngaati Puukeko, Clan Gunn, Horwood) has been awarded the 2023 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry (worth $7,000).

Photo credit: Kelly Joseph (Ngaati Maniapoto) 

"This prize means so much to me as another curly haired poet who likes to think their writing has some of Frame's spark in it. I'm so deeply honoured to be recognised in this way, and as a student, $7000 is such a meaningful amount of money. I picked up my partner from work today and she shouted at me "award winning poet!" and it's true now." 

essa may ranapiri is a person who lives on Ngaati Wairere whenua near the old forest of Te Papanui. Their work has appeared widely including in Mayhem, Poetry NZ, Brief, Sport, Starling, Mimicry, THEM and POETRY Magazine. Author (of ransack and ECHIDNA) and PhD student (looking at how poetry by taangata takataapui engages with atua and thus enhances our mana takataapui), they have a great love for language, LAND BACK and hot chips. They will write until they're dead.
essa may ranapiri’s second poetry collection follows the story of Echidna, their own interpretation of the Greek Mother of Monsters, as she tries to figure out life and identity living in a colonised world. Alongside this Māui and Prometheus get into a very hot relationship. Echidna contends with three strands of tradition; Greek mythology, Christianity and Māori pūrākau, and through weaving them together attempts to create a queerer whole. It is a book that is in conversation with the work of many others; from Milton and R.S. Thomas to jayy dodd and Joshua Whitehead to Hinemoana Baker and Keri Hulme. Situating and building its own world out of a community of queer and Māori/Pasifika writing, it carefully places itself in a whakapapa of takatāpui story-telling. 

 essa may ranapiri web page: 

Congratulations to essa may ranapiri who joins the other excellent writers who have been recipients of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Awards that were created by Janet Frame herself who set up the endowment fund to encourage and support writers. The trustees of the Janet Frame Literary Trust are delighted to be able to present this very well deserved prize.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Marking 20 years since Janet Frame died

Janet Frame died in Dunedin 20 years ago today after a long and and eventful life. From working class origins she became a world famous author yielding her 'memory and a pocketful of words' with enormous talent and a disciplined dedication to her craft. She has often been called a genius but she herself attributed the secret of her success to "1 percent inspiration and 99% perspiration". 📚
She is dearly missed by her loved ones 💔 but she lives on in her amazing work which continues to be reprinted around the world in English and many other languages. 📚 Still keeping me busy in the role she handed to me of managing her copyright and caring for her charitable trust🌹

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

John Summers receives 2022 Janet Frame Award for Prose

Janet Frame Literary Trust

Award Celebrates 70th Anniversary of Janet Frame's Most Famous Prize

Wellington writer John Summers will this week receive the 2022 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Imaginative Prose, worth $7000. John Summers has published two books of short non-fiction, The Mermaid Boy (2015) and The Commercial Hotel (2021). His writing has appeared in many publications and reviewers have used words such as ‘dazzling’, ‘breath-taking’, ‘sparkling and enduring’ to describe his genre-defying blend of essay, reportage and memoir delivered with the literary finesse of an accomplished short story. 

Janet Frame Literary Trust Chair Pamela Gordon compared the way that at his best John Summers raises non-fiction writing to the level of an art form, to Janet Frame’s own aspiration to do the same.  ‘Autobiography is found fiction’, said Janet Frame. The writer has applied the techniques of fiction writing to their true stories.

John Summers responded: ‘This award is extremely encouraging. A bolt from the blue that says keep writing, we like what you’re doing. It’s hard to overstate such a thing when, for the most part, writing is the act of sitting alone at a laptop. I am especially honoured to find myself amongst the talented people that have received this award, and that it comes in memory of Janet Frame, an incredible, original talent whose work has been important to me.’

Just before Christmas in 1952 Janet Frame received the life changing Hubert Church Award for the ‘Best Prose by a New Zealander’ for her first book The Lagoon and Other Stories (1952). Notoriously Frame was languishing in a mental hospital, misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and only days away from a scheduled lobotomy. When the superintendent read a news report about the accolade he decided to cancel the operation. Out of gratitude for the support and encouragement she had received from the many honours bestowed on her during her long career Janet Frame founded the Janet Frame Literary Trust and bequeathed an endowment fund out of which awards could be given to New Zealand writers. The 2022 award commemorates the 70th anniversary of the date the certificate was signed by PEN New Zealand: December 10th 1952.

For more information see:

Photo credit for portrait of John Summers: Ebony Lamb

THE COMMERCIAL HOTEL is published by Te Herenga Waka University Press

 Authorised by Pamela Gordon
Chair, Janet Frame Literary Trust

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

70th Anniversary of THE LAGOON & Other Stories

2022 marks the 70th Anniversary of the publication of Janet Frame's first book THE LAGOON AND OTHER STORIES in 1952. The first edition was printed with the incorrect publication date "1951" on the imprint page and to this day that mistake is widely perpetuated. Publisher Denis Glover had accepted the manuscript five years beforehand, in early 1947, but until he left Caxton Press in November 1951 the brilliant stories languished on a corner of his desk. Since 1952 almost every story in the book has been anthologised many times and the book itself is much admired and loved around the world. Pictured: some editions and translations. Some of the best known stories (every fan has their own favourite) are: The Lagoon, Swans, My Cousins who Could Eat Cooked Turnips, The Day of the Sheep, Keel and Kool, My Last Story, The Pictures, The Birds Began to Sing, Miss Gibson and the Lumber Room, A Note on the Russian War, My Father's Best Suit... which do you like best?

Saturday, February 26, 2022

"War comes whatever you sing" ~ Janet Frame


By Janet Frame
(First published in The Lagoon and other Stories, 1952)

The sunflowers got us, the black seeds stuck in our hair, my mother went about saying in a high voice like the wind sunflowers kiddies, ah sunflowers.

We lived on the Steppes, my mother and the rest of my family and I, but mostly my mother because she was bigger than the rest. She stood outside in the sun. She held a sunflower in her hand. It was the biggest, blackest sunflower in Russia, and my mother said over and over again ah sunflowers.

I shall never forget being in Russia. We wore big high boots in the winter, and in the summer we went barefoot and wriggled our toes in the mud whenever it rained, and when there was snow on the ground we went outside under the trees to sing a Russian song, it went like this, I'm singing it to myself so you can't hear, tra-tra-tra, something about sunflowers and a tall sky and the war rolling through the grass, tra-tra-tra, it was a very nice song that we sang.

In space and time.

There are no lands outside, they are fenced inside us, a fence of being and we are the world my mother told us ⁰we are Russian because we have this sunflower in our garden.

It grew in those days near the cow-byre and the potato patch. It was a little plant with a few little black seeds sometimes, and a scraggy flower with a black heart, like a big daisy only yellow and black, but it was too tall for us to see properly, the daisies were nearer our size.

All day on the lawn we made daisy chains and buttercup chains, sticking our teeth through the bitter stems.

All day on the lawn, don't you remember the smell of them, the new white daisies, you stuff your face amongst them and you put the buttercups under your chin to see if you love butter, and you do love butter anyway so what's the use, but the yellow shadow is Real Proof, Oh you love early, sitting amongst the wet painted buttercups.

And then out of the spring and summer days the War came. An ordinary war like the Hundred Years or the Wars of the Roses or the Great War where my father went and sang Tipperary. All of the soldiers on my father's side sang Tipperary, it was to show they were getting somewhere, and the louder they sang it the more sure they felt about getting there.

And the louder they sang it the more scared they felt inside.

Well in the Russian War we didn't sing Tipperary or Pack up your Troubles or There's a Long Long Trail A-Winding.

We had sunflowers by the fence near where the fat white cow got milked. We had big high boots in winter.

We were just Russian children on the Steppes, singing tra-tra-tra, quietly with our mother and father, but war comes whatever you sing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

60th Anniversary of FACES IN THE WATER by Janet Frame

Faces in the Water by Janet  Frame was first published in September 1961. 

Sixty years later, it is as well appreciated and as relevant as ever.

FACES IN THE WATER was published in the UK (WH Allen) the USA (George Braziller) and New Zealand (Pegasus Press)

Current editions of Faces in the Water are available from Virago Modern Classics and Penguin Books. Ebooks also available in most territories.

Virago Modern Classic:

Penguin Books Australia: 

Here are some of the covers of the many English language editions and translations of FACES IN THE WATER: