Thursday, June 28, 2012

Can you hear me Whangaparaoa?

Can You Hear Me Whangaparaoa?
Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2009


Peter Simpson, Cameron McLachlan, Tim Kerr,
Stella McKay, Hannah Taylor, Pamela Gordon

On Friday the 15th May 2009 at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival the Janet Frame Literary Trust presented a tribute session to commemorate the 100th birthday of Charles Brasch, poet, editor, and arts philanthropist.

Dr Peter Simpson of the University of Auckland and Frame executor Pamela Gordon, along with four students from Auckland University's English Department, took part in a programme of readings, the text of which consisted entirely of passages written by Janet Frame and Charles Brasch, sourced mostly from their unpublished letters. The readings portrayed the relationship between Frame and Brasch, and ranged from their early correspondence concerning Frame's submissions to Landfall in the 1940s, to Frame's reminiscences about Brasch after his death in 1973.

"Can you hear me, Whangaparaoa?" is the first line of a poem Brasch dedicated to Frame on his deathbed.

The readings were selected and edited by Frame executors Pamela Gordon and Denis Harold with the cooperation of Charles Brasch's literary executor Alan Roddick. The result was almost as if Janet and Charles were having their conversations there and then. The two friends came alive as their relationship progressed through distance and diffidence to a deep mutual understanding and affection.

The capacity audience was receptive and full of praise for the event afterwards.
There were some glowing reviews of the performance:

Vanda Symon's Blog Overkill

Photos from irkstyle's photostream on flickr (under a creative commons license)

The script of the public performance was later expanded and edited by Pamela Gordon & Denis Harold for publication in 2010 by the University of Auckland's HOLLOWAY PRESS in the fine edition:

Poet Elizabeth Smither launched the book and delivered this speech.

Some reviews of the book can be found in:

 Otago Daily Times (Charmian Smith)

 Beattie's Book Blog (Graham Beattie)

 New Zealand Herald (Gordon McLauchlan)

NZ Listener (Isabel Michell)

 Landfall Review Online (Nicky Chapman)

Not all the reviews of the fine edition are archived online. A review by Vincent O'Sullivan can be found in the periodical New Zealand Books and Marc Delrez also wrote a review for the journal Commonwealth Essays and Studies (Spring 2011).

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