Friday, June 25, 2010

CK Stead apologises to Janet Frame's estate

Photo: Otago Daily Times early and late editions 25 June 2010

Pamela Gordon and CK Stead were interviewed by Maggie Barry
at 4.20 pm on Radio Live on the 25th June 2010

See the news page of the Janet Frame Estate Web Site for
"CK Stead apologizes for using Janet Frame's work without permission"
a review by Janet Frame Literary Trust trustee D Harold

Thursday, June 24, 2010

LAGOON selected for Agr├ęgation syllabus

Janet Frame's first published book, The Lagoon and Other Stories (previously thought to have been published in 1951 due to a printing error; it was actually published in 1952) has been selected as a topic of study for a prestigious French examination for aspiring teachers of English.

The text book will be the paperback edition of The Lagoon published by Bloomsbury Books UK (pictured above).

There's a very deeply entrenched but mistaken belief that Janet Frame wrote this book while "confined in a mental hospital". In fact most of the stories were written while she was working as a "housemaid-waitress-nurse" at a rest home in Caversham, Dunedin. The work was accepted for publication by Caxton Press in January 1947; just three weeks later, Janet Frame lost a second sister to death by drowning.

It was not until a year after this tragic family event that Janet Frame became lost in the hospital system, after having succumbed to an experimental application of electro-shock treatment recommended by a psychotherapist she had been consulting.

Meanwhile the Lagoon manuscript languished on the desk of the hopelessly alcoholic editor Denis Glover, for just over five years.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Frame poems set to music

Former Music Professor Jenny McLeod's third song cycle based on Janet Frame poems is to have its first public performance at a benefit recital on July 11th 2010, at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

The work is called FROM GARDEN TO GRAVE: a song cycle for soprano and piano and includes settings of eight of Janet Frame's poems from her two poetry collections The Pocket Mirror and The Goose Bath. The title is taken from a line in the poem 'Freesias': "I praise their courage in bearing their essence from garden to grave".

Soprano Margaret Medlyn and pianist Bruce Greenfield will perform the song cycle, which had its first performance at a private party in honour of Greenfield's 60th birthday in 2008.

All proceeds from the benefit will go towards a postgraduate scholarship at the Wellington School of Music. Further details here:

McLeod's two other song cycles based on Frame poems, The Poet (2008) and Peaks of Cloud (2010) both premiered at Wellington's International Festival of the Arts.

Janet Frame's poetry has for several decades now been inspiring and enhancing the work of many prominent composers and also innumerable music students.

There have already been dozens of musical settings written for poems from the posthumous volume The Goose Bath (published in 2006) and the Frame estate is kept very busy negotiating permissions and conditions for the various projects proposed by composers keen to exploit the wide range of original expression, piercing insight and linguistic artistry found in Janet Frame's poetry.

Janet Frame was a music lover and always enjoyed the collaborations between her work and the work of skilled composers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blossoming Frame Studies

I recently looked through my emails and added up the number of books on the subject of Janet Frame's work that are currently on the drawing board, and found that as far as I know, there are at least half a dozen underway. (There may well be more!) Here's a link to the cover art that will appear on one of these volumes:

Janet Frame: Semiotics and Biosemiotics in Her Early Fiction by Paul Matthew St. Pierre (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, New Jersey, USA, forthcoming 2011).

French academic Claire Bazin has also completed a study on Janet Frame for the Writers and Their Work series published by Northcote House Publishers, UK.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Slovakia: They're reading our poetry there

Much of New Zealand is abuzz today with delight at the 1-1 draw between an underdog New Zealand team and the much more highly ranked Slovakia at the football World Cup in South Africa. It marks the very first point New Zealand has ever gained at a soccer world cup!

How is this relevant to Janet Frame or to New Zealand literature? Well, in 1982 an anthology of New Zealand poetry was published in translation, in what is now the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

Here are some glimpses from the book. I'm guessing that the language is Slovak, but I don't know enough about the history of political and linguistic divisions in that part of Europe, to be certain.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrating the gift of blood

Today, June 14th, is World Blood Donor Day

Please give blood if you can.

The photograph is of Janet Frame receiving one of the regular blood transfusions that improved the quality of her life, and gifted her perhaps a few more months to say goodbye to her loved ones, after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. During the many day-long transfusions she received at the oncology centre of Dunedin Hosipital, she liked to read, and talk, and think and dream. She used to wonder about the individuals who had been so generous as to donate their blood, the blood which tangibly restored her strength as it dripped slowly into her veins. She only knew from the label on the pack of blood, which city or town it had been collected in. She was always grateful to every person whose blood or platelets were giving her a much needed boost as the quality of her own blood deteriorated.

Such a simple but heroic, life-giving gift.

Friday, June 11, 2010


There's a thesis to be had, from the "View history" page of the Wikipedia article on Janet Frame.

Here's an interesting recent deceitful edit, for instance, masquerading as a genuine improvement:

"removed some redundant facts that had already been stated"

If you bother to follow that link, you will discover that the "redundant" passage that has been removed, consists almost entirely of a positive statement about Frame's literary and cultural significance.

In contrast to this, the same editor is content to let stand a large paragraph devoted almost entirely to the fact that one blog author was annoyed that Janet Frame won a major literary prize for her posthumously published poetry book The Goose Bath, and another blog author reported the fact. This brief outburst of sour grapes from a couple of journalistic hacks, a handful of years after her death, is supposedly a significant biographical fact about Janet Frame for the purposes of Wikipedia? I think not. I think it's a certain individual score-settling, and they're so weak and cowardly that Wikipedia is their only forum.

Only more evidence for the fact of Wikipeda sucking, big time...

Now it's more than two and a half years since I tried to change anything on Wikipedia myself. Apparently I was too much of an expert to be trusted with editing an encyclopedia that trumpets the fact that it must be edited only by people largely ignorant of a subject and deriving their information from online newspaper articles.

I was hounded and harassed - and slandered - for being (it was assumed) not neutral enough about Frame. Actually I was standing in the way of some very non-neutral people who have dominated the JF article ever since and turned it into a travesty of the truth of Frame's life. As for her work - the reason she became famous in the first place - it hardly seems to figure.

Well if you peruse the editing history, it's fairly obvious that the obsessive, agenda-driven and occasionally hostile editors that have lurked under the bridges of the JF article like nasty trolls, and have been driving anyone else away, are not at all "neutral".

It's easy to identify the one who is envious of Frame and tries to take away any reference to her fame or success. Pathetic really.

It's easy to recognise the one(s) who are promoting a fringe faux-psychological theory.

It's always easy to spot the hand of a grad-student-gone bad.

It might not be so easy to spot the fact that one of the hostile editors apparently became so frustrated by the fact that I had washed my hands of the article, that they attacked any unsuspecting newcomer who tried to make a benign edit. "There's Pamela Gordon again!" screams the comment on the view history or Talk page, to justify them reverting whatever didn't suit their agenda. I became their straw man to knock down, but whoever it was they accused of the patsy editing, was certainly not me.

Wikipedia. A breeding ground for sick puppies...

Recently, all reference to a reputable scholarly work on Janet Frame was removed, for a spurious reason. The surrounding passage had first been dismembered, under the pretense of improving its grammar, so as to make little sense; and then the resulting incoherence was used as an excuse to remove reference to the fact that there are controversies about Frame; that not everybody believes the pathologizing "myths" that this article promotes.

Here is the link to the evidence for that particular malicious edit, that removed valid references:

"what were these supposed "myths"? there's no mention of them in the article"

There's no mention of these "myths" in the article (except that the article is the physical embodiment of myth-making), because someone has previously taken away the mention of them... and now a subsequent edit has also taken away the mention of an important scholarly source for discussion of the controversy, which the editor has now effectively suppressed. How "neutral" is that?

Fortunately it is not possible (I hope) to change the "view history" information, so the truth of the matter will be plain for anyone to see, eventually, when the current backlash against Frame has died down.

I might not be alive to see those days, but I'm quietly confident that justice will be done eventually anyway, and and I am just making this note for the future researcher who decides to try to continue unravelling the "biographical myth".

Meanwhile, while the hostile editors remove valid links to scholarly sources, they proliferate the links to blogs and magazine columns. This is the level of Wikipedia: the craziest and the nastiest people "win" there, because rational people just shrug their shoulders and walk away from such nonsense.

Who would want to waste one more minute of time in the company of such malice and ignorance? Not me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Towards another Summer in the Netherlands

Janet Frame's Dutch publisher DE GEUS has released the translation of Towards Another Summer in a hardback edition.
This is the eighth title by Janet Frame to be pubished in the Dutch language.

Translated by Anneke Bok

Dutch Title: Een Andere Zomer

Publication Date: 1 June 2010

Other Janet Frame Titles published by De Geus:
Gezichten in het water ~ Faces in the Water
Uilen roepen ~ Owls Do cry
De Herinneringsbloem ~ The Carpathians
De lagune ~ The Lagoon and other stories
Naar het Is-Land
Een engel aan mijn tafel
De gezant van Spiegelstad
Een engel aan mijn tafel - omnibus

Quotable Quotes

"I really love emailing, it's like writing a poem in the sky."

~ Janet Frame (email to Elizabeth Alley)

(As reported by TVNZ on 29 January 2004)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rare book auction

I see that there are some Janet Frame books up for auction at an Auckland auction house:


Some of the books were inscribed by Janet to her friends John and Rose Marie Beston; another was inscribed to extended family members Robin and Rosemary Gordon. Well-known tenor Robin Gordon was my father Wilson Gordon's first cousin. His German wife Rosemary was also an opera singer. Robin and Rosemary were spectacular gardeners and also bred poultry and dogs. Janet was a frequent visitor to their estate at Manakau, north of Wellington, when she lived at nearby Shannon and Levin.

Of possible interest to Frame fans is another association copy that is for sale at the auction: an edition of Emily Dickinson's poetry, signed for Jess [Whitworth] from Janet [Frame]. Of course Janet loved Emily Dickinson's poems, and it was typical of her to give away something she herself was so fond of. Janet's close friend Jess Whitworth was the author of a prize-winning novel called Otago Interval. She was the first wife of editor Oliver Duff, and mother of sculptor Alison Duff, but is perhaps better known these days as New Zealand author Alan Duff's grandmother.

There are some more details about the auction on the online catalogue: