Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Life is hell, but at least there are prizes."

"Or so one thought."

Those are the opening two sentences of the short story "Prizes" by Janet Frame.

A new selection of her short stories was released in New Zealand earlier this year. The American edition was released just last week:

Prizes: The Selected Stories of Janet Frame

Counterpoint Press USA December 2009


"There are no prizes that Janet Frame did not receive or deserve, but, it seems, it is only in posthumous publication that her unerring eye and and startling prescience is so fully apparent."

"Entering the human heart? In the magnificent stories of Janet Frame, we are never out of it."

"...the title story is not about simple triumph, but a sharply satiric account of a young girl whose excellence is clawed away from her by the steady efforts of mediocre and conformist rivals."

"Time only highlights how much, in giving strong voice to her own apparent diffidence, Frame described the unjust invisibility of other women..."

~ Murray Bramwell, NZ Books Spring 2009

New Zealand Edition
Vintage, Random House NZ (2009)

Random House Australia will release an Australian edition in 2010.

The UK/Canada edition will also be published next year, by Virago Press.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Landfall 218: Islands

Landfall 218 has been guest edited by poet and critic David Eggleton.

The title for this issue is "Islands" and it's a clever name for many reasons. A part of the volume has been most appropriately set aside for a tribute in honour of the 100th birthday of Landfall's founding editor Charles Brasch. The tribute section includes interesting reminiscences of Charles Brasch the person from some of his friends (Peter Entwistle, Alan Roddick, and Margaret Scott) and features several sterling poems dedicated to his memory by Peter Olds, Peter Bland, Sue Wootton and -- Janet Frame!

There's also a nice illustration of Brasch's poem Islands by Greg O'Brien. Of course this is the poem from which Janet Frame derived the title Towards Another Summer for the novel written in 1963 that remained unpublished during her lifetime.

To commemorate the friendship between Charles Brasch and Janet Frame, I approved the printing of the full text of a letter Janet Frame wrote to Margaret Scott in 1973, not long after Charles Brasch died. Janet was preparing to leave for her year as Katherine Mansfield fellow at Menton in the South of France, and she had asked Margaret Scott (a former fellow) for some tips about what to expect, and what to pack. Margaret, in her turn, had asked Janet whether she and Charles had ever talked about their own deaths, as this was a topic he had resisted discussing. Janet's letter, with its response to the hints about Menton and the further description of one particular memorable encounter with Charles, seems very timely not just because this is the Brasch centenary year, but because 2009 also marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship (now known as the Mansfield Prize).

Janet Frame also sent a poem to Margaret, which has been reprinted with the letter, called "Poets", comparing the death of a young and an old poet. The poem had never been shown to anyone else, except Charles, and Janet now dedicated it to his memory. The poem was first published in The Goose Bath (2006) and it has already become somewhat of a classic statement for the death of an artist, having been read out at several prominent funerals either at the request of the mourners and even in a couple of cases to my knowledge, because of a death-bed request.

Landfall 218
also contains a wide range of other literary and artistic delights, including fresh work from contemporary authors, an outstanding winning essay of the Landfall essay competition, and much other interesting non-fiction as well as reviews.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Brazilian Edition

Rumo ao outro verão

São Paulo: Planeta do Brasil, 2009
Título original: Towards another summer

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poster Poetry Launch in Dunedin

Phantom Billstickers Poetry Poster Launch

Monday 16th November

12 Noon

468 George Street


(by the Obelisk)

Michele Leggott will be officiating.

The posters will feature these poets:

Sandra Bell

Jay Clarkson

Sam Hunt

Robert Pinsky

Marcie Sims

Joe Treceno

Brian Turner

This is the fourth of the Phantom Poetry Poster Launches this year. (First Auckland, then Wellington, then Christchurch, now Dunedin.) The Christchurch Launch was held on Janet Frame's Birthday (28th August) and involved a party and poetry readings at Al's Bar.

The Janet Frame Poem "The End" on a Phantom Poster

The French Connection

A panel discussion to commemorate
the 40th Anniversary of the Menton Fellowship

Sunday, 22 November 2009

1 pm - 2.30 pm

Dunedin Public Art Gallery

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, now known as the New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize, Dunedin Public Art Gallery hosts a panel session with Owen Marshall, Philip Temple, Fiona Farrell and current Burns Fellow, Michael Harlow.

These prominent South Island writers will talk about their experiences of living in France, writing in a room at the Villa Isola Bella where Mansfield once lived, and about the impact this unique fellowship has had on their literary career.

Chair: Richard Cathie

This session is dedicated to the late Janet Frame,
a previous holder of the fellowship.

Monday, November 9, 2009

All Good Bookstores

Spotted this staff recommendation at the big Auckland City Whitcoulls branch on the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets:

"Janet Frame is one of our most incredible writers. Her works are intense & emotive. A joy to discover."

There was a brilliant display of all the "Janet Frame Collection" at this bookshop. The Auckland CBD Borders shop is similarly generously stocked.

Every single one of Janet Frame's 12 novels is currently in print from Random House New Zealand, as well as most of her short stories and both her poetry collections, and the children's book she wrote. And the three volumes of autobiography are in print separately, along with an omnibus edition!

Quality independent and university bookshops will usually have a good supply of Janet Frame's books (along with other literary fiction).

Alas not all of the mainstream stores have such a good offering of Janet Frame books on sale, especially out in the provinces, where they only seem to know about Dan Brown and Harry Potter. Surely not every brain cell is confiscated when citizens leave the large cities?

Quite often I will be browsing in a bookstore that is selling a book like "501 Great Writers" - which features Janet Frame - but try looking for a representative sample of her work. You're likely to be disappointed.

I'm often asked by visitors to New Zealand why it seems to be so hard to buy Janet Frame's books here in the very country that produced such a great writer on the world stage? It's a good question...

The pictured double edition containing INTENSIVE CARE and DAUGHTER BUFFALO is a particular treasure. It weighs a kilo and the novels are both deep and significant, major works of literature, but they're not any harder to read than any other work of literary fiction.

As Stephanie Dowrick once commented, "It is impossible to call yourself well-read if you have not yet discovered Janet Frame" (Sydney Morning Herald). I could extend the sentiment to say that someone who hasn't read Intensive Care or Daughter Buffalo or Living in the Maniototo can't claim to know Janet Frame's work well.

Save the Clutha

Heaven's Gate, Upper Clutha
Janet Frame loved the magnificent Clutha River that flows through her home territory in the lower part of the South Island of New Zealand. In 1958, in London, once her birth name "Janet Frame" had become too well-known for her to be comfortable living with it on a daily basis, she changed her name by deed poll to "Janet Clutha". In this way she was able to live anonymously for the rest of her life, reserving the name "Janet Frame" for publishing and literary purposes only.

As it has often been pointed out, she was fairly unusual in that she wrote under her proper name and lived under her pseudonym! It is not of course unusual for those who have achieved celebrity or notoriety to use assumed names in the attempt to avoid publicity and harassment, so that they can live as normal a life as possible. In Janet Frame's case, her apparent invisibility did help to serve the myth that she was some sort of anti-social recluse. The myth could not have been further from the truth, as anyone who lived in her neighbourhood or knew her as "Ms Clutha" (or more correctly "Dr Clutha") could testify, but it's true that it was one myth that Frame did not discourage as it meant that she had fewer interruptions to her work.

Janet Frame described her first view of the Clutha River in her autobiography:

From my first sight of the river I felt it to be a part of my life (how greedily I was claiming the features of the land as ‘part of my life’), from its beginning in the snow of the high country (we were almost in the high country), through all its stages of fury and, reputedly now and then, peace, to its outfall in the sea, with its natural burden of water and motion and its display of colour, snow-green, blue, mud-brown, and borrowing rainbows from light; and its added burden rising from its power, of the dead – withered or uprooted vegetation, the bodies and bones of cattle, sheep and deer, and, from time to time, of people who drowned.

After spending a year confined in the city, studying, writing, conscious always of boundaries of behaviour and feeling, in my new role as an adult, I now came face to face with the Clutha, a being that persisted through all the pressures of rock, stone, earth and sun, living as an element of freedom but not isolated, linked to heaven and light by the slender rainbow that shimmered above its waters. I felt the river was an ally, that it would speak for me.

I fell in love with Central Otago and the river, with the naked hills covered only in their folds by their own shadow, with their changing shades of gold, and the sky born blue each morning with no trace of cloud, retiring in the evening to its depth of purple.


1001 Best Things to See and Do in New Zealand by Peter Janssen

(Hodder Moa, updated second edition, 2009)

This informative and interesting book has recently hit the shelves of bookstores, in time for the Kiwi Xmas and for the influx of summer tourism to our nation.

New Zealand is a small country but is packed to the rafters with a variety of attractions to suit every kind of visitor, and also to tempt the local citizen who hasn't yet explored all that is on offer in their own "back yard".

This useful book includes a recommendation to visit Janet Frame's childhood home at 56 Eden Street, Oamaru, which is open to the public every afternoon during the summer months.

More information on visiting this site of literary heritage is available from

Oamaru's I-Site:

1 Thames Street
New Zealand
Phone: +64-3-434 1656,
Fax: +64-3-434 1657.

Peter Janssen has also featured the Janet Frame House in another of his books, Worth A Detour (2008).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Animals on Show

Animals on Show: A Critical Analysis of the Animal Entertainment Industry

A 'humane' educational resource:

~Focussed on the relationship between human and non-human animals.
~Designed for use within the NCEA framework for years 11, 12 and 13.
~Created and peer-reviewed by professional teachers and educationalists.

Animals & Us resources are designed to encourage critical thinking, advance knowledge and develop values of empathy and compassion.

The Janet Frame Literary Trust was pleased to support the aims of this resource by approving the inclusion of an extremely relevant excerpt from Janet Frame's novel Daughter Buffalo (in which Turnlung and Talbot Edelman visit Central Park Zoo in New York)

see www.animalsandus.org for more information.

World Premiere of New Song Cycle

Jenny McLeod's Peaks of Cloud, a song cycle for tenor and piano to poems by Janet Frame, will be premiered by New Zealand tenor Keith Lewis and pianist Michael Houstoun at the NZ International Arts Festival in Wellington on the 7th March 2010.

Keith Lewis & Michael Houstoun: Peaks of Cloud

Tenor Keith Lewis and pianist Michael Houstoun present this recital which spans over 300 years of song. Recognised early in his career as a Mozart specialist, Lewis’s performances are noted for their beauty of voice and interpretative skills. Partnered by the impeccable artistry of Michael Houstoun, this recital promises an evening of beautiful insights.
With the sweet Baroque of Purcell, the subtle, direct songs of Britten and the quirkiness of Barber, this programme spans a range of emotional and musical colour.

At the heart of the recital is the world premiere of Jenny McLeod’s Peaks of Cloud, which sets seven poems by Janet Frame and brings together four iconic New Zealand artists.

Wellington Town Hall
Sunday 7 March 2010
7.30 pm

Tickets on sale at Ticketek from 9 am 19th November 2009

FYI You can listen to a Radio NZ interview with Jenny McLeod about writing The Poet, another song cycle based on Janet Frame's poems, here.

Stephanie Te Kare Baxter

29 September 1968 - 31 October 2009

Another sad loss to Janet Frame's "inner circle" of family and friends occurred last weekend with the untimely death (after a short illness) of Stephanie Baxter. Steph was raised by her grandmother Jacquie Baxter who was a close friend of Janet's. The photograph above was taken on February 15th 2004 after the interment of Janet Frame's ashes in the Frame family grave at Oamaru. Steph and several other members of the Baxter whanau attended Janet's family funeral as well as her State Memorial Service, as well as the private burial ceremony, each time honouring Janet's memory with heartrending and beautiful karanga and waiata. Janet's connection with Steph had been a long one, as she had kept vigil with the Baxter family in Dunedin, in the hours before Steph's birth. My brother Neil and I attended Steph's tangi last week at Kapiti College Marae, representing the Frame estate and the Gordon family, and also expressing our own grief. Steph will be sadly missed by her partner and children, her mother and her "mum", and her brother and the rest of the whanau, and the many other people who will mourn for her.

According to the website www.atiawa.com, the three white feathers - Te Raukura - are worn by Taranaki tribes "to demonstrate their continued commitment to resolve conflict through peaceful means". Steph inherited this tradition of non-violence and passive resistance from the Parihaka prophets through her Maori ancestry and there was also a pacifist legacy from the Baxter clan of Brighton near Dunedin (her great-grandparents Archibald and Millicent Baxter were notable anti-war activists). At Steph's funeral her brother-in-law spoke in his eulogy of Steph's remarkable gift of unconditional love, and of her ability as a peacemaker. May she rest in peace.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Owls don't weep; they screech

The title of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry is taken from a phrase written by William Shakespeare. Frame quotes the passage from The Tempest several times in the course of her narrative:

WHERE the bee sucks, there suck I:

In a cowslip’s bell I lie;

There I couch when owls do cry.

On the bat’s back I do fly.

After summer merrily:

Merrily, merrily, shall I live now

Under the blossom that hangs on the

The ambiguity of the word "cry" (meaning in English both "weep" and "screech") means that some people assume that Frame's owls are sobbing. I am pretty sure that owls don't cry tears. They HOOT.

I recently noticed that the French translation of Owls Do Cry, LES HIBOUX PLEURENT VRAIMENT, has been mis-named, contrasting with the more correct German translation WENN EULEN SCHREIN. The French owls appear to be blubbering, but the German owls are piercing the night with their calls.

Of course I have always thought it must be a nightmare translating Frame, when sometimes one can't even get past the title without wondering whether there is a deliberate play on words in it.

FYI "Owls Do Cry" was not Janet Frame's first choice of a title for her novel. Her working title was "Talk of Treasure". When this title was rejected by her publisher, she strongly advocated for the title "BETWEEN THE FLAGS", from her observation of the obsessive carefulness of conformist provincial society:

"the Woollen Mills, the chocolate factory, the butter factory, the flour mill - all meaning prosperity and wealth and a fat-filled land; and lastly a photograph of the foreshore with its long sweep of furious and hungry water [...] where you cannot bathe without fear of the undertow, and you bathe carefully, as you live, between the flags."

It was my discovery - in the course of archive research - that Frame had wanted to call her novel "Between the Flags", that led to the rediscovery of one of two "lost" Owls Do Cry manuscripts. Frame had written "Between the Flags" on the cover and so that document had been overlooked in searches for the original OWLS typescript.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Frame's Maniototo 30 Years On

A radio adaptation of Living in the Maniototo is currently being replayed on RADIO NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL at 2.30 pm (NZ time) each weekday on the "Afternoons" show. Part Three was played today (Friday).

The release by Virago Press next week (November 5th) of the UK/Canada edition of Living in the Maniototo marks 30 years since its first publication by George Braziller in New York.

Fresh editions of Maniototo are also currently available in New Zealand (from Random House NZ 2006) and in Australia (from Random House Australia 2008).

Unfortunately that first American edition contained quite a few typographical errors, including the astonishing omission of a chapter number (which chapter number does appear in Frame's typescript but it was apparently overlooked by the typesetter, and the mistake was missed by the proofreader).

So the new editions on sale in the Commonwealth represent the most authentic text of Janet Frame's tour de force so far published.

As well as laying claim to including the most authentic text of Maniototo, the very attractive Virago edition is enhanced by the superb and fascinating introduction by author LINDA GRANT.

Living in the Maniototo is one of Janet Frame's most popular novels, and is one of an armful of her books that have never been out of print.

As well as finding favour with the ordinary reader for its wit, playfulness and satire, as well as its incisive observations and descriptions of a wide range of realities and fantasies, this novel has also been much studied by academics. There has even been some "theorizing" about the "missing" chapter, which is not surprising given the mischief of Frame the author. The error was indeed a very "Janet Frame" thing to happen, and the fact that a chapter should have gone missing is now an unavoidable part of the whole Frame mystique that so many people delight in puzzling over. (Actually the chapter itself is still there; it was merely the chapter number that inadvertently went missing.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New UK edition of MANIOTOTO

Here's the stunning cover of the new UK edition of LIVING IN THE MANIOTOTO to be released by VIRAGO this week.

Linda Grant - who met Janet Frame while on a visit to New Zealand - has provided an introduction to this sophisticated and witty novel first published in 1979.

Some of the reviews:

'Quirky, rich, eccentric' Margaret Atwood

'Probably as near a masterpiece as we are likely to see this year ... it is a novel full of riches' - Martyn Goff, Daily Telegraph '

Puts everything else that has come my way this year in the shade' - Guardian

'A clever, high-spirited performance' New Yorker '

The most original and resourceful novel I have read for a long time' - New Statesman '

Frame's novel is remarkable - full of word plays, cameo portraits and deliberate mystery' - Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Angel on my TV Screen

Australian Channel 7 drama PACKED TO THE RAFTERS is currently screening on New Zealand's TV One, on Tuesday nights at 8.30 pm.

While staying in a Palmerston North motel last week I was flicking around the available TV channels and happened on an episode of the show, which to my utter surprise featured a running theme of admiration for Janet Frame's courageous life, and praise for her inspirational writing.

Watching the show, I glimpsed two different editions of Janet Frame's autobiography: the omnibus edition of An Angel at My Table published by Random House Australia in 2008, and the Amazon bestseller Paladin paperback edition first released in 1987.

The episode "Having it all" (Series 1, episode 16) can be viewed on TVNZ's On Demand website:

As a pure coincidence (or was it?) Janet Frame's autobiography also had a walk-on part recently on the long-running New Zealand soap opera SHORTLAND STREET.

Volume One, To The Is-Land, featured as a book club choice discussed in an episode screening on Monday 12th October 2009. The Janet Frame edition observed onscreen was the phenomenally popular New Zealand paperback first published in the 1980s and which has been repeatedly reprinted in different editions (the current cover was first used for the 2000 Vintage NZ edition which is still in print):

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New work of Frame scholarship


Contemporary Criticism on Janet Frame

Edited by Jan Cronin and Simone Drichel

Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, NY 2009.

227 pp. (Cross/Cultures 110)

ISBN: 978-90-420-2676-6 Bound €50,-/US$70,

ISBN: 978-90-420-2677-3 E-Book €50,-/US$70,-

Janet Frame’s work is notorious for the demands it makes on reader and critic. This collection of nine new essays by international Frame specialists draws on a range of critical frameworks to explore fresh ways of looking at Frame’s fiction, poetry, and autobiography. At the same time, the essays plug into the energy of Frame’s work to challenge our thinking within and beyond these frameworks.

Frameworks offers a unique per­spective on Frame studies today, show­casing its major concerns as well as heralding new Frame narratives for the decade ahead. Mindful of preceding Frame criticism, these essays use their contemporary vantage-point to recast seminal questions about the relationship between Janet Frame’s work and its critical contexts.

Each of the essays makes a case for framing her work in a particular way, but all are characterized by self-reflexivity regarding their own critical practice and the relationship they assume between exegetical framework and Frame’s work. Underlying this practice, and contained within the pun of the title, are the elementary-sounding yet fundamental questions of Frame studies: How does Frame’s work work? And how do we work with her work?


Valerie Baisnée,

Jan Cronin,

Marc Delrez,

Simone Drichel,

Jennifer Lawn,

Isabel Michell,

Chris Prentice,

Anna Smaill,

Lydia Wevers.

Editors: Jan Cronin lectures in contemporary literature in the Department of English at the University of Auckland. Simone Drichel lectures in postcolonial literature in the Department of English at the University of Otago.

Monday, September 28, 2009

US edition of selected stories

"Entering the human heart? In the magnificent stories of Janet Frame, we are never out of it."

~ New Zealand Books (Spring 2009)

US Publication Date: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Counterpoint
Format: Hardcover, 396pp

ISBN-13: 9781582435152
ISBN: 1582435154

The most comprehensive selection of Janet Frame's short stories ever published, this exceptional collection has been chosen from the four different volumes released during her lifetime, and includes five formerly uncollected stories.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frame footage online

NZ ONscreen Biography of Janet Frame:

Janet Frame is famed for creating unique fictional worlds, yet her biography is entwined in her works' critical and public reception. Her writing was influenced by her early life: a working class childhood during the Depression, several family tragedies, and a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in her early twenties, led to a special understanding for the poor and marginalised.

Another of Frame's key themes is that of the writer or artist struggling to survive in the face of a conformist society; a topic pointedly evidenced through her own experience: Frame narrowly escaped a lobotomy only because she won a major literary prize.

Yet David Gate's 2009 New York Times' review of Towards Another Summer notes, that Frame's "sanity became, and continues to be, the subject of tedious and condescending debate - as does the degree to which her fiction was autobiographical. Since few readers of Sylvia Plath's novel The Bell Jar (published in the same year Frame wrote Towards Another Summer) worry any more over the similarity of Esther Greenwood to her creator, why worry over [Summer protagonist] Grace Cleave?"

Frame herself warned her readers of the danger of treating her fictional statements as autobiography and long maintained her privacy. This reticence, along with the vivid interiority of her writing, might seem to make Frame a challenging subject for adaptation to screen, but her work and the drama of her life has appealed to filmmakers.

Three New Zealanders: Janet Frame (1975) is a documentary based around a lively interview with Frame and contains dramatised excerpts from Frame's fiction.The first significant adaptation of Frame's work was A State of Siege (1978).

Vincent Ward's first short film was made when he was fresh out of Ilam art school. Adapted from a Frame novel, it's the story of a retired art teacher dealing with loss and loneliness, told over one stormy, terrifying night.Produced by Tim White, the film announced Ward as an emerging talent. "This, without all doubt, is the most sensitive and intelligent film that has ever been made in New Zealand" (Evening Post, 1978).

An Angel at My Table (1990) saw Jane Campion adapt the three volumes of Frame's bestselling autobiography (To the Is-Land, An Angel at My Table and The Envoy from Mirror City). Produced by Bridget Ikin and starring Kerry Fox, the poetic interpretation of Frame's memoir of her early life was initially made for television, to be screened in three parts, but attracted such strong reviews that it was released theatrically as a 158min film.

The film cemented Campion's international reputation (it is the only New Zealand film to be selected for the Criterion Collection) and won numerous awards (including the International Critics' Prize at Toronto Film Festival and the Grand Special Jury Price at Venice).

Campion's iconic shot of the young Frame walking down a deserted southern road visually captures the charge of Frame's writing: "Electricity, the peril the wind sings to in the wires on a gray day". Following on from the publication of Frame's prizewinning autobiography (received with unanimous acclaim in New Zealand and internationally) the film's success saw Frame's readership further swell.

Wrestling with the Angel (2004) by Ninox Films is a 70 minute documentary based on the celebrated biography by Michael King of the same title. Directed by Peter Bell it explores Frame's private life and writing through the perspective of her friends and associates. King's untimely death in March 2004 meant that the interview he gave for this film was his last. He provides an informative and entertaining overview of her life.

Screen adaptations of Frame's work, particularly An Angel at My Table, have helped enshrine its reputation as a taonga of New Zealand arts and have inspired new generations to engage with "the mirror city" of Frame's imagination.

Monday, September 21, 2009

French Translations of Janet Frame

OWLS DO CRY (1957)

La Chambre Close Alinea (1986)
Les Hiboux Pleurent Vraiment Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1994)
Les Hiboux Pleurent Vraiment Payot & Rivages (2002)

translated by Catherine Vieilledent


Visage Noyés Éditions du Seuil (1964)
Visage Noyés Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1996)
Visage Noyés Payot & Rivages (2004)

translated by Solange Lecomte


Le Jardin Aveugle Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1998)
Le Jardin Aveugle Payot & Rivages (2004)

translated by Dominique Mainard


La Fille-Bison Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (2002)

translated by Dominique Mainard

TO THE IS-LAND (Autobiography Volume 1) (1982)

Ma Terre Mon Île Les Belles Lettres (1992)
Ma Terre Mon Île Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (2000)

translated by Anne Damour


(Autobiography Volume 2) (1984)

Parmi les Buissons de Matagouri Hommes & Groupes Éditeurs (1986)
Un Été à Willowglen (Un Ange à Ma Table vol 2) Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1997)

translated by Françoise Robert


(Autobiography Volume 3) (1988)

Le Messager (Un Ange à Ma Table vol 3) Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1996)

translated by Dominique Mainard


Poussière et Lumière du Jour Éditions Joёlle Losfeld (1997)

translated by Dominique Mainard


Le Lagon et Autre Nouvelles Des Femmes - Antoinette Fouque (2006)

translated by Jean Anderson and Nadine Ribault

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture
by William Taylor

Thursday 22 october 2009
6.00 pm

Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand)

55 Cable St, Wellington

All Welcome

Admission Free

This lecture aims to deliver an overview of the ‘state of the nation’ for literature and writing in New Zealand, raising the profile of our authors and leading to a greater understanding of what it means to be a writer in New Zealand.

One of New Zealand’s foremost novelists for young people, multi-award winning William Taylor has published more than thirty novels.

Owen Marshall gave the inaugural lecture in 2007, followed by Greg O’Brien last year.

The lecture is jointly sponsored by the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc) and Random House New Zealand, and takes place as part of New Zealand Book Month.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mantel on Man Booker shortlist

Delighted to see that Hilary Mantel's novel Wolf Hall, which has attracted much praise from the critics, has been shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

Here at the Janet Frame estate we have a soft spot for Hilary Mantel, who has written a superb introduction to the 2009 Virago paperback edition of Janet Frame's classic bestselling novel FACES IN THE WATER.

Mantel's introduction to Faces in the Water is one of the most perceptive pieces of writing about Janet Frame's work that I have ever read. The essay is incisive, well-researched, and beautifully, at times lyrically, written.

And of course Mantel can see right through the attempts to pathologise Frame the author, in her lifetime and beyond. Here's one of my favourite passages from the introduction:

Despite the other things she could do, distinctive and remarkable things, Janet Frame remains subject to categorisation. She was put into the mad category, saved at the last moment for the artist category, and is sometimes put back into the mad category by people keen on classifications and unable to explain her genius except by defining it as abnormality. An arid reductionism still haunts her. In 2007 a paper in the New Zealand Medical Journal suggested that she had an autistic spectrum disorder. It is time to subdue the urge to pathologise, and see Frame as the highly conscious artist that she was.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Satirical poem re-surfaces

A newly published biography of New Zealand's former Prime Minister Helen Clark includes the text of a satirical poem Janet Frame wrote in the mid-1980s. The poem is called "June 1985" and was published in the New Zealand Listener in July of that year.

The poem sums up well the mood and circumstances of the mid-80s, and journalist Denis Welch uses it to introduce a chapter on the choices facing the "left wing" within NZ's Labour Party of that time, which had been co-opted by the right wing agenda later known as "Rogernomics". Welch notes that Frame laments "the way the country was changing".

Frame held strong opinions on political and social issues and many of her works contain incisive satirical barbs. This social critique aspect to Janet Frame's life and work has sometimes been obscured by the mythologising of Janet Frame. Those who prefer the narrow fictionalised movie version of her life find it hard to allow her the agency and independence she in fact displayed from ealiest childhood, and which landed her in no end of trouble.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Birthday Tribute

A lovely gesture from the staff of the University of Otago's Hocken Collections, on Janet Frame's 85th birthday. The springtime bloom of the flowering currant tree was indeed one of Janet's favourite flowers.

Janet Frame had a long association with Dunedin's Hocken Library. She made the first of several significant and generous deposits of her papers to that archive nearly 45 years ago (in 1965).

Janet Frame's personal and literary papers are not yet available for public perusal because Frame requested there be a period of at least 15 years of respectful privacy to follow her death. In the meantime her papers are being catalogued and her executors are carrying out the programme of posthumous publication that Frame had always envisaged would take place. She always insisted and hoped that attention should be paid to her work rather than to her life, and her literary guardians are bruised but not broken in their battles to carry out her wishes.

For various reasons, she did not publish all the work she wrote. In some cases, the delay was to preserve her own privacy or the privacy of others.

Other important birthdays are commemorated by the Hocken staff. A floral tribute is also made in honour of the May birthday of major benefactor Charles Brasch. His favourite flower was the anemone, and I understand that it's quite a chore to track down that flower at that time of year!

(Photos courtesy of Hocken Librarian, Sharon Dell)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Angel at their Tables

Janet Frame's estate gifts $20,000 in birthday awards

Wellingtonian Geoff Cochrane has been granted the Janet Frame Poetry Award for 2009


Alison Wong
of Titahi Bay has received the Janet Frame Fiction Award for 2009.

85k by Janet Frame's 85th birthday

The 2009 awards are worth $10,000 each, making a grand total of $85,000 that has been given to benefit New Zealand writers by Janet Frame's estate from an endowment fund the world renowned Kiwi icon set up for that purpose before her death in 2004. The annual award is timed to commemorate the late author's birthday, 28 August. This year Janet Frame would have turned 85.

In making the 2009 announcement, I'd like to make the point that both this year's award recipients are highly regarded for their poetry as well as for their fiction, something they have got in common with Janet Frame who wrote bestselling collections of poetry as well as the prizewinning prose - short stories and novels as well as memoir - that made her famous.

The Janet Frame trustees feel sure that Geoff Cochrane's most recent poetry volume, the small but perfectly formed Pocket Edition (VUP 2009) and Wong's astonishingly lyrical and historically important debut novel As the Earth Turns Silver (Penguin 2009), will attract further honours and prizes.

Geoff Cochrane photograph by Bruce Foster
Geoff Cochrane's profile on the NZ Book Council home page:http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/cochrane.html
Geoff Cochrane's profile on the VUP home page:http://www.victoria.ac.nz/vup/authorinfo/gcochrane.aspx
Latest book is Pocket Edition (VUP 2009) http://www.victoria.ac.nz/vup/2009titleinformation/pocketedition.aspx

Alison Wong photgraph by Alan Knowles.
Alison Wong's profile on the NZ Book Council home age:
Latest book is As the Earth Turns Silver (Penguin 2009)
Janet Frame's latest title in New Zealand is the short story collection Prizes,
which seems appropriate :-)