Friday, February 24, 2012

Storms Will Tell


by Janet Frame

The Spring moss
the plush lining of the jewel-box
rediscovered beneath the snow.
Fever-green surfacings.
Ice with its edges smoothing
shaping in the lick-tongue of the sun
transparent white-green sweet;
then — moss as renewal, a green extra,
sun-sweat, the flower-in-itself, starry evidence,
incapable of wounding.
Spring-moss, crib-moss, beginnings.

Now, forlorn green light upon the black trees,
the moss of neglect, decay, weather,
the aftermath of a yearlong feast
with the year gone suddenly away.
The day has cut off the heat and the light.
Wind snarls in the rain O poor groaning mouth
at the crevices of a season shot full of holes
by birch and maple fire, the trees’ incredulous
It does not happen here, the violence of desertion,
of the difference between our lives as mosscovered graves
and the source, the mine of rich leaflight.

Newly unexpectedly ancient
the trees weep in their mossy beards
in the desolation of rain and cold
in the disillusion of a colourfast world’s fading.
Only the angel birches, good with weather,
receive violence, return grace.

Storms Will Tell: Selected Poems by Janet Frame is published by Bloodaxe Books and is available on and

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Janet Frame Event in Istanbul

This event will take place on the 19th March 2012 at Koç University in Istanbul.

Here is the notice (in Turkish): Janet Frame

The organisers mention the relevance and proximity of the event to International Women's Day (March 8th) which reminds me that a special tribute to Janet Frame appeared last year in the special UNESCO Courier (April-June 2011) celebration of heroic and inspiring women.

Janet Frame's posthumous novel Bir Başka Yaza Doğru (Towards Another Summer) has recently been published in Turkey by Yapi Kredi, following the publication of Baykuşlar Öterken (Owls Do Cry) 2010.

Hot off the press in Germany

An updated German translation of Janet Frame's first novel Owls Do Cry has been released this month in Germany by publisher CH Beck.

Wenn Eulen Schrein ISBN 978-3-406-63001-9

This new edition is at least the sixth German edition of Wenn Eulen Schrein which was first published in 1961 by Nannen (it was actually the first title of Janet Frame's to be translated!).

Over the years Frame's publishing history became very complex, especially concerning the foreign editions because of distance and language difficulties, and because they involved agents and sub agents and even sub-sub agents so it seems to be impossible to get an overview of all the editions and sublicences of the 9 titles by Janet Frame that have so far been published in German translation: The Lagoon, Owls Do Cry, The Edge of the Alphabet, Faces in the Water, Living in the Maniototo, Towards Another Summer, and the three volumes of autobiography.
Past publishers are: Nannen, Piper Verlag, and Suhrkamp.


C.H. Beck
Fiction Title TBA                         Forthcoming (2013)
Autobiography Omnibus             Ein Engel an Meiner Tafel (Oct 2012)
Owls Do Cry                                Wenn Eulen Schrein (Feb 2012)
Towards Another Summer           Dem neuen sommer entgegen (pb 2011)
Towards Another Summer           Dem neuen sommer entgegen (hb 2010)

Franzen on Frame

The following passage in which Jonathan Franzen quotes from Janet Frame's novel Faces in the Water, appears in Franzen's Harper's Essay 'Why Bother?' collected in How To be Alone: Essays (Fourth Estate, London 2002, pp83-84):

Flying back from Palo Alto in an enforced transition zone crewed by the employee-owners of TWA, I declined the headphones for The Brady Bunch Movie and a special one-hour segment of E! but found myself watching anyway. Without sound, the segment of E! became an exposé of the hydraulics of insincere smiles. It brought me an epiphany of authenticity, made me hunger for the unforced emotion of a literature that wasn't trying to sell me anything. I had open in my lap Janet Frame's novel of a mental hospital, Faces in the Water: uningratiating but strangely pertinent sentences on which my eyes would not stick until, after two and a half hours, the silent screen in front of me finally went blank.

Poor Noeline, who was waiting for Dr. Howell to propose to her although the only words he had ever spoken to her were How are you? Do you know where you are? Do you know why you are here? - phrases which ordinarily would be hard to interpret as evidence of affection. But when you are sick you find in yourself a new field of perception where you make a harvest of interpretations which then provides you with your daily bread, your only food. So that when Dr. Howell finally married the occupational therapist, Noeline was taken to the disturbed ward.

Expecting a novel to bear the whole weight of our whole disturbed society - to help solve our contemporary problems - seems to me a peculiarly American delusion. To write sentences of such authenticity that refuge can be taken in them: Isn't this enough? Isn't it a lot?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

They're reading our poetry here

This week, Janet Frame's poem 'The End' has been displayed on a giant electronic billboard in Times Square New York.

The poem poster, produced by Phantom Billstickers, accompanies a promo for a cultural event to be held in New York on the 28th February at the Saatchi & Saatchi headquarters.

Full information about the event 'Kiwi Poets in New York', about the poetry poster project initiated by Jim Wilson, is in this Press Release.

It will be my great pleasure and privilege to be taking part in this cultural event and reading some of Janet Frame's poetry in a city she loved so much, and visited many times, sometimes staying for extended periods with friends or borrowing their apartments. What's not to love, about New York?

Indeed, what's not to love about New Zealand? Let the Kiwi poets take up that theme!

Click here to read the text of Janet Frame's poem 'The End'. It is a poem that she did not publish in her lifetime, but that is now available in the collections The Goose Bath (Random House) and Storms Will Tell (Bloodaxe Books))

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RIP Bill Brown

William Theophilus Brown and Janet Frame
Palmerston North 1992
(Photograph Pamela Gordon)

Very saddened to hear that Bill Brown, one of Janet Frame's dearest friends, died last week at his home in San Francisco, at the age of 92.

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture 2012

Marilyn Duckworth to deliver the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture
(NZ Society of Authors Press Release)

Held each year as part of New Zealand Book Month, the Janet Frame Memorial Lecture is delivered by the New Zealand Society of Author’s current President of Honour. It has been our delight to have Marilyn Duckworth in this role for the 2011-2012 period and we are pleased to announce that she will be delivering this important lecture at Te Papa, Wellington on Thursday 1st March 2012.

This lecture is intended to provide an overview of the “state of the nation” for literature and writing in New Zealand, such that the reading public may have a greater understanding of what it means to be a writer in New Zealand. Marilyn’s lecture is aptly entitled Learning to Swivel and will address the changing face of New Zealand literature, ‘reflecting on the very different path and mode of travel for an aspiring novelist today’. “Once books spoke for themselves. Writers found their own way, without being taught, and without needing to be part of their own marketing machine” Marilyn comments, drawn from “a personal hindsight, gazing across more than fifty years.”

Marilyn describes herself as a novelist and sometime poet. She was born in Auckland and spent her childhood in England but has lived mainly in Wellington. Her first novel, A Gap in the Spectrum, was published when she was twenty-three; her fifth, Disorderly Conduct (1984), won a New Zealand Book Award. Her fifteenth novel Playing Friends was released in 2007. She has held the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in Menton, a Fulbright Fellowship in the USA and also writing fellowships at Victoria and Auckland universities. In 1996 Leather Wings was short listed for a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. In 2000 she startled herself by publishing her autobiography, Camping On The Faultline.

The lecture launches a month-long series of celebrations for New Zealand authors, illustrators and books. It will take place on Thursday 1st March 2012, at 6pm on the Marae, Te Papa, Wellington. Admission is free.

This event is open to the public and will appeal to teachers, librarians and book-lovers everywhere.

POSTSCRIPT: A recording of this lecture is now archived online at: