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:
Geoff Cochrane's profile on the VUP home page:
Latest book is Pocket Edition (VUP 2009)

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 :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poetry on the occasion of Janet Frame’s birthday

“Poetry on the occasion of Janet Frame’s birthday”

Al’s Bar, 31 Dundas Street, Christchurch

Friday 28 August at 5.30pm

There’ll be refreshments and entry is free.

Presented by Phantom Billstickers

Phantom Billstickers will launch new poetry posters in their six-month campaign. The fresh posters this month include a Janet Frame poem poster, and posters featuring poems by the 2008 and 2009 Janet Frame Poetry Award winners.

Readings will be given by Canterbury poets.

The executors of the Janet Frame estate will also be present and will announce the recipients of the 2009 Janet Frame Awards for Poetry and Fiction.

Two awards of $10,000 each will be given in 2009 to mark Janet Frame's 85th birthday, 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 late author set up for that purpose in 1999.

"Friends of the Janet Frame House" launch

The group that owns and cares for Janet Frame's childhood home in Oamaru has organised a literary event for Saturday the 29th of August, at the newly refurbished Oamaru Opera House, from 7 pm.

The event, hosted by Oamaru's "Janet Frame Eden Street Trust" will celebrate the launch of the nation-wide FRIENDS OF THE JANET FRAME HOUSE.

Tickets for the Kate's Klassics literary evening, also featuring Jim Hopkins, can be purchased through

During the day, Wellington broadcaster and author Kate Camp will host a poetry workshop in the Janet Frame Reading Room at Waitaki Girls' High School.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poetry on the Streets

Next Friday the 28th of August would have been Janet Frame's 85th birthday. As one way of marking this occasion, the Janet Frame estate has approved the release on that day of a poster featuring one of her poems.

Poster company Phantom Billstickers has been carrying out a poetry campaign this year, bringing "Poem Posters to the World".

A news report about the initiative, quotes Jim Wilson, head of Phantom Billstickers:

“In these tough times, we wanted to put some beauty and thoughtfulness back into the streets of New Zealand. We are particularly proud of our national poets, both known and emerging, and we want to help spread their words so everyone can enjoy them.”

Phantom also produced an excellent series of poetry posters in 2006, to mark Montana Poetry Day. A Janet Frame poem (pictured above) also featured on one of those posters.

A launch for the new series of poetry posters will be held next Friday in Christchurch.

Turkish Delight

A new language for Janet Frame...

Janet Frame's work has been published in translation since the early 60s. (The first foreign edition was Owls Do Cry, into German.) But every now and then she attracts interest from publishers representing a 'new' language.

The Turkish publisher Yapi Kredi has signed an agreement for two titles: Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry together with Towards Another Summer, her twelfth novel, which was published posthumously.

Yapi Kredi Publications is one of the biggest publishing houses in Turkey. Based in Istanbul and active since 1992, it has published over 2500 titles in philosophy, literature, the arts, and children's books.

Friday, August 14, 2009

PC Clutha

Janet Frame (aka Dr Janet Clutha) kidding around in a police helmet she bought at the party goods department of her favourite Stationery Warehouse.

That's a very typical smile on her face.

Her love of mischief will be well known to anyone who has read her work (especially Living in the Maniototo, which I have just reread - it's such a funny novel).

Like many professional writers, Janet was quite partial to stationery, and of course as it was tax deductible she would stock up regularly, especially at the time of the annual income tax return.

I don't know if she put in a claim for the hat, but it still sits in pride of place at the HQ of the Frame Police.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The many lives of Mona Minim

Photo: David de Jong

Mona Minim and the smell of the sun is the only children's book Janet Frame published in her lifetime.

It was first published by George Braziller and was listed by the New York Times as one of the 10 best children's books for 1969.

Since then this very Framean fable has had many publishing cycles, several translations, and various different artists have tried their hand at the project of 'anthromorphising' Mona and her friends, for illustrated editions.

As with all classics of children's literature, Mona Minim has attracted an adult readership too. Although written as a children's story, it has also been published in the UK (by Bloomsbury) and New Zealand (by Vintage) in text-only versions aimed at older children and adult readers.

Mona Minim is still going strong. The prizewinning 2005 Random House NZ edition (illustrated by David Elliot) continues to be reprinted and to attract new readers.

And little Mona, the brave house ant who longs for adventure and gets her wish for it, is soon to have an outing in Dutch theatres, presented as a children's musical theatre performance by NIKI ROMIJN under the title HOE RUIKT DE ZON (which means, I think, "What is the Smell of the Sun?")

Lovely. Janet would have been thrilled. This book was dear to her heart. She was quoted as saying it was her favourite book. (But to be fair, I think her favourite book was always the one she had written most recently!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Forthcoming Foreign Editions

Some recent publishing deals for Janet Frame's work include the following new agreements and renewals:


Towards Another Summer

An Angel at My Table (3 volume autobiography omnibus)

Modernista Books:

Owls Do Cry

Faces in the Water

The Edge of the Alphabet

Scented Gardens for the Blind


Towards Another Summer


Neri Pozza Publishers:

Towards Another Summer

An Angel at My Table (3 volume autobiography omnibus)

Faces in the Water

Owls Do Cry


De Geus:

Towards Another Summer

Selected Stories

Faces in the Water

The Edge of the Alphabet

Scented Gardens for the Blind

An Angel at My Table (3 volume autobiography: omnibus & separate volumes)



Towards Another Summer

An Angel at My Table (3 volume autobiography omnibus)


Towards Another Summer

Owls Do Cry