Monday, July 30, 2012

Tweeters gonna tweet

Somebody drew my attention to yesterday's Toby Manhire tweet (above) later retweeted by the New Zealand Listener itself.

Toby Manhire, a loyal columnist for the New Zealand Listener, was having a dig at a rival organ, the Sunday Star-Times.

What is it about? The Sunday Star-Times yesterday carried an 'exclusive' preview of the brand-new collection Gorse is Not People: New and Uncollected Stories by Janet Frame. The extract they featured, 'The Painter', was one of the 'uncollected' short stories, which the SS-T clearly indicated in a large caption under the title, adding further that the story was first published in the 1970s.

The story ran in their glossy 'Sunday' magazine, and on the cover of that lift-out was the teaser: "JANET FRAME: An exclusive story from a new collection".

Now, the running of an excerpt from a newly released book is a publishing convention that the Listener also adheres to. Why just recently the Listener ran an extract from a memoir by a well-known author who once met Janet Frame for several minutes, and the Listener dedicated a column and a half to the author's reminiscences of that brief meeting. The Listener also found it appropriate to publish a photograph of Janet Frame to illustrate the clearly momentous nature of the fleeting - but memorable - meeting.

Furthermore, the Listener is currently advertising an "exclusive print interview with Anne Perry". I'm pretty sure that doesn't compare at all with any of Anne Perry's other exclusive print interviews, or with the simultaneous 'exclusive TV interview' that was screened last night.

The claim to be running an 'exclusive print interview'  of course refers - to anyone who is communicating cooperatively - to the fact that the interview is being timed to publicise a newly published biography of Anne Perry.

So clearly the problem isn't with the convention of having an 'exclusive', or with an 'excerpt' run as a taster for prospective readers of important new books. These things act as promotion for the book, and provide noteworthy or prestigious copy for the newspaper or magazine.

So what is Toby Manhire's problem? Is he suggesting the SS-T didn't know the Janet Frame story was already published (nearly 40 years ago, mind, in the glorious heyday of the Listener)?

But the Sunday Star-Times did know, and they said so, in large bold print.

Does Toby object to what he sees as the misuse of the word 'exclusive' (forgetting for a moment the fact that he is a journalist and that 'exclusive' is also a common publishing jargon word)  given that you might still have your copy of the decades-old Listener (possibly older than Toby himself) at your breakfast table?

This is what is wrong with that kind of snide tweet, of course: the word limit means there is no room for all the pieces of information that are needed for a truthful account of a situation, but there is just enough time for an innuendo that may lead anyone who reads it, to jump to a false conclusion.

Toby Manhire does not mention that the SS-T has acknowledged previous publication.

The publicity material around Gorse is Not People is very clear about the composition of the book, not that you could fit this information into a tweet (even if you wanted to): more than half of the 28 stories in Gorse is Not People have never been published before, so this is predominantly a book of previously unpublished work (especially given the fact that one story - 'The Big Money ' written on Ibiza in 1957 - is around 10,000 words long). Of the rest, five stories have been published posthumously by the Janet Frame estate. The others were first published in Janet Frame's lifetime (in journals such as Harper's Bazaar, and the School Journal, and yes, the Listener) but the stories were never 'collected' by Frame, which means that she never included them in a book of her stories. So these, including 'The Painter' will be little-known to the modern reader, having been published overseas, or decades ago.

In any case, I do want to clarify, in the light of the above tweet, that there was no deception on the part of the Sunday Star-Times about the previously published status of the story. And there was no deception on the part of the Janet Frame estate either. The book itself carries full citations for the seven stories that were published in Janet Frame's lifetime, including 'The Painter'.

The Sunday magazine of the Sunday Star-Times is obviously proud to be the only NZ magazine to have the privilege of running an extract from Gorse is Not People. They have beautifully presented this fine Janet Frame story to a contemporary readership, thus securing, as they say on their cover: "An exclusive story from a new collection".


@toby_etc and @nzlistener probably should have looked at the cover of their own magazine the NZ Listener before they accused the Sunday Star-Times of misusing the word 'Exclusive':

NZ Listener, 4 August 2012:
Cover headline boasts: "EXCLUSIVE" - interview with Anne Perry.
The magazine went on sale on Monday July 30th. 
On Sunday July 29th TV3 screened an 'exclusive' interview with Anne Perry.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award

Applications are now being called for the 2012 New Zealand Society of Authors Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature.

This biennial award has been funded by a generous gift from The Janet Frame Literary Trust. The purpose is to support a mid-career or established author to further their literary career.

The award is for $3,000, and may be used for travel or for purchasing computer equipment, as well as to buy time to write. The award is open to New Zealand authors of literary or imaginative fiction, as well as poetry, who are members of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

The inaugural recipient of the award in 2008 was Dunedin poet and novelist Emma Neale. In 2010 the award went to Wellington poet and writer Tim Jones.

Closing date for the award is 31 October 2012. It will be announced on the 10th of December.

For further information and to downoad an application form please visit the NZSA web page.

Or write to the NZSA office, enclosing a SAE: Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature, NZSA, PO Box 7701, Wellesley St, Auckland 1141.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Pocket Mirror

The Pocket Mirror (1967) was the only book of poems that Janet Frame published in her lifetime and yet it has never been out of print.

Frame won the New Zealand Literary Fund Award for Achievement in 1969 for The Pocket Mirror.

Despite the fact that Janet Frame was better known as a major novelist than as a poet, her genre-bending novels contained within them as many poems as might be found in a career's worth of slim volumes of verse.

The Pocket Mirror has been (for poetry) a bestseller. It has been through several editions (in the UK, New Zealand and the USA). 

Frame's poetry is also unusual in that there are not just those few that stand out as the 'classics' that are quoted and adopted as favourites. Her poems, rich in meaning, insight, observation and description, and subject matter, provide rich pickings: over the years many dozens of the Pocket Mirror poems have been reprinted in anthologies and set to music.

The first page of The Pocket Mirror, annotated in pencil by Charles Brasch. (From the exhibition Nourishing the Roots held at the Otago University Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Robert Burns Fellowship.) 

National Poetry Day

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Trestle Leg Series

Words from Janet Frame's poem 'The Road to Takapuna' (1964) adorn a pillar literally supporting a northbound lane of the Auckland Harbour bridge.

The New Zealand Transport Agency - Waka Kotahi has unveiled an innovative cultural enhancement of the underside of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Their press release states:

The NZ Transport Agency has mixed nuts and bolts with some of New Zealand's best written and spoken words to complete the first stage of a landscaping project under the northern end of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
   Words spoken or written by a prominent Maori chief from Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau and seven of New Zealand's well known writers have been painted on piers supporting the box girder that carries northbound traffic above Stokes Point.
   "Given the importance of the bridge as the critical transport link across the Waitemata Harbour, it is fitting to recognise these eight New Zealanders who themselves have links with the harbour and the North Shore," says the NZTA's acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton.
   The paintings include excerpts of poetry and prose written by Janet Frame, Bruce Mason, Frank Sargeson, A.R.D. Fairburn, Maurice Duggan, Kendrick Smithyman and Robyn Hyde (Iris Wilkinson). There is also a quotation from the Waitakere chief, Te Waatarauihi, speaking in 1860 of his relationship to the area.
   The paintings are known as 'The Trestle Leg Series' - engineers describe the piers supporting both box girders (clip-ons) at Stokes Point as trestle legs.

The quotation from Janet Frame comes from her poem 'The Road to Takapuna' written after her return in late 1963 from living in the UK, and published in Mate magazine (No 12) in June 1964. Among other things, the poem comments on the differences Frame encountered on her return, including the widespread 'reclamation' of land that had formerly consisted of mangrove swamps and mud flats.

It is fitting that Janet Frame's extensive links to the North Shore are recognised by her inclusion in this project. Frame first became associated with the North Shore of Auckland when her sister June moved there to settle after her marriage to Wilson Gordon in 1948.

While staying with the Gordons in Northcote in 1955 and 1956 Frame also famously boarded during the weekdays with author Frank Sargeson, sleeping and working in an army hut in his back garden while she wrote her second book, the novel Owls Do Cry.

I noticed in some media reports this week that the odd journalist still believes that Janet Frame was an unpaid guest of Sargeson's, and that her brief time living in his hut comprised her only association with the North Shore.

It is a little known fact (verifiable by a careful reading of Michael King's biography) that during the time Frame boarded with Sargeson, she stayed every weekend with the Gordons. (One exception would be the weekend in late 1955 that her mother died; griefstricken, she stayed in the hut.)

Another misconception that would be easily cleared up by referring to the accurate historical record, would be the suggestion that Frame strained Sargeson's meagre financial resources. In fact Frame paid Frank Sargeson one pound per week for her board and lodging, from the three pounds per week benefit that he had helped her obtain. Onlookers at the time seem to have been unaware of either of these circumstances, as one hears of bizarre anecdotes to this day claiming that Frame frequently locked herself away and refused food while she was living in the hut at Sargeson's place. These stories perhaps conflict with other exaggerated claims that Sargeson exhausted himself and his resources by waiting on 'Janet' hand and foot, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is possible that when she had allegedly shut herself away, Frame wasn't even in the hut at all, but the local gossips who were snooping around wouldn't have known that.

Even though the Michael King biography clearly indicates that most of the time Frame lived only part time with Sargeson, and that she paid him board and lodging, I find that these facts are not only unknown, they are also rejected as being somehow offensive to the memory of the generous self sacrificing Sargeson. Again the seductive legend, built up over decades of retelling, is stronger than the evidence.

Over the years Frame returned to the Shore many times, visiting various friends or family members. She also briefly rented accommodation in Northcote, Takapuna, and Devonport, and owned her own homes in Glenfield (in the 1970s) and Browns Bay (in the 1990s).

"I wanted a Maori word to get into the American newspapers."

"I wanted a Maori word to get into the American newspapers."

~ Janet Frame in interview with Stephanie Dowrick, Sydney Morning Herald 1985, explaining one of the reasons why she called her 1979 novel Living in the Maniototo.

"There has always been interest [in Maori culture] yet too often it has been the interest of the living directed towards the presumed dead. I think it is marvellous and good that, however slowly — too slowly — the people banished to sleep, to a silence that equates with death, are alive, speaking and writing their own language and sharing its riches. The eighties will be remembered not for the repayment of the national debt but for the acknowledgment and payment of a language debt which — a miracle of market force — can only accumulate a human treasure for New Zealand and the world."

~ Janet Frame in interview with Marion McLeod for the New Zealand Listener, 1988, discussing the Maori language revival movement, of which the long-running  'Maori Language Week' (Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori) is just one of the strategies.

(Interviews are quoted from JANET FRAME IN HER OWN WORDS, Penguin NZ, 2011)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Friends Far Away Die

by Janet Frame

Friends far away die
friends measured always in blocks of distance
cement of love between
porous to tears and ocean spray
how vast the Pacific!
How heavy the unmiracled distance to walk upon,
a slowly sinking dream, a memory undersea.

Untouched now, Sue, by storm
easy to reach
an angel-moment away,
hostess of memories in your long green gown, your small blue
slippers lying on the white sofa
in the room I once knew — the tall plants behind you —
I remember I watered them and found some were fake
and I shrugged, thinking it’s part of life

to feed the falseness, the artificial, but no, you fed only truth
you cut down every growing pretence with one cool glance.
We were at home with you.
We knew, as people say, where we stood.
Your beloved John of the real skin and uncopied eyes was anxious for you
in true anxiety.

Well, you will visit me in moments.
You will be perplexed yet wise, as usual.
Perhaps we will drink won ton soup.
I promise you, no food will hurt you now.

Listen to Janet Frame reading this poem at:
NZ Electronic Poetry Centre

'Friends Far Away Die' was published in The Goose Bath (Random House NZ and Wilkins Farago Australia) and in Storms Will Tell (Bloodaxe Books)

(c) Janet Frame 2002
All Rights Reserved

[Posted today in fond memory of the legendary and much loved New Zealand children's author Margaret Mahy who died yesterday in Christchurch aged 76]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Like Janet Frame on Facebook

You can now 'like' Janet Frame's official page on Facebook:

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Landfall 223 has now been published.

Landfall is 'the most important and long-lasting journal in New Zealand's literature' – Oxford History of New Zealand Literature.

The latest issue of this venerable New Zealand literary magazine is aptly named 'Fantastic!'

A highlight of this interesting and eclectic issue was for me a marvellous new story by author Albert Wendt from Ancestry, his upcoming collection of short stories to be published by Huia later this year.

But there is much else to recommend.

Also noteworthy in Landfall 223 is the inclusion of a major review of Janet Frame In Her Own Words.

Reviewer Emma Neale (herself a poet and novelist, and current holder of the prestigious Robert Burns Fellowship) provides an excellent and thoughtful review, titled "The Investigator of Uncertainty" (pp 174-177).

Until now, I have felt that the literary establishment of New Zealand - or at least its expression in the few remaining book review pages - has been generally slow to come to terms with this publication, embodying as it does Frame's own momentous challenge to any comfortable stereotypes about the author's life and career.

Here's a taste of Neale's engagement with the words of author Janet Frame and how she teases out some of the revelations contained within this important new collection of Frame's non-fiction:

Always intensely conscious of her own artistic choices, Frame expresses the joy she experiences seeing a pattern emerge in the process of writing; yet she is also disarmingly frank in her piece 'I Gave up Writing Novels', which lays bare the limitations, repetitions, and frustrations over a long career as a professional author. Even in this vowing-off, however, we also gain an avowal of an overarching artistic ethos: 'The duty of a writer is to take in the shadowy homeless ones, to give them substance and a dwelling place.'
   I think the meaning here is double: in a technical, aesthetic sense the writer has an obligation to transcribe the elusive workings of the imagination for all of us; and also, an author's duty is to give voice to society's alienated and marginalised. This is something Frame's own work does consummately and movingly (oh, the awkward, deluded Toby, in The Edge of the Alphabet) and which she springs on us in unexpected contexts.
(The Landfall Review, Landfall 223, May 2012)

To purchase books from Otago University Press:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The good word on Frame: "captivating"

Grant Robertson talks about his favourite NZ book, Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame

Here is an archived link courtesy of TVNZ "on demand" to a recent TV interview that the deputy leader of the NZ Labour Party Grant Robertson gave on the (alas now defunct) book show 'The Good Word': Series 4, Episode 12 (The interview takes place at 7.00 minutes but the whole show is worth watching!)

Robertson was appearing on the regular part of the show where a prominent New Zealander was invited on to the set to talk about their favourite New Zealand book.

Grant Robertson spoke passionately and articulately about his favourite New Zealand novel, Janet Frame's Owls Do Cry, and he also spoke with a great deal of knowledge and insight about Janet Frame's autobiography, and about her place in New Zealand history.

Host Emily Perkins introduced a slightly bizarre note when she asked Grant Robertson whether he had read the recent fan fiction novel about Frame written by one Professor Evans. This was rather like asking a gourmet to compare the cuisine of a Master Chef to the subtle taste of a bag of Twisties! Children and ignorant people might prefer junk food to the real thing, but a genuine Frame fan is hardly going to be fooled by, or even interested in, such a counterfeit. Robertson seemed a little flummoxed by the question. Of course he hadn't looked that book out, although he had heard it was controversial.

The fan-fiction novel is set in the era when Frame wrote Owls Do Cry, but all resemblance ends there. Evans changes all the facts of Frame's life, her personality and especially her relationships, and attributes to her an arid disconnected "theory of language" that has no resemblance to Frame's own well-expressed thoughts about her writing. What could you possibly learn about her?

Anyway it was Janet Frame's writing that Grant Robertson was there to celebrate, not a third-hand third-rate exploitation of her fame and her talent. I admired the way that he firmly brought the focus of the conversation back to Janet Frame's writing itself, and to her own reputation. As Grant said, the autobiography traces Janet's journey in New Zealand and overseas, and back again, "to find out who she is rather than who people tell her she is".

Friday, July 20, 2012

1 week until Poetry Day

New Zealand celebrates a 'National Poetry Day' every year on the last Friday in July.

For the days and weeks leading up to Poetry Day, apparently now in its 15th year, poets and readers gather and plan and write and read poems.


And the subversive artists of street poetry redouble their efforts:
poem posters are pasted thick and fast,
including of course the much loved Janet Frame poem 'The End'.

Poetry posters featuring poems by Kelly Ana Morey, Peter Olds and Robert Pinsky enliven an alleyway off Albany Street near the Otago University campus.

Земля морей: Антология поэзии Новой Зеландии

Including poems by Janet Frame (дженет фрейм)

An Ice Angel

"Ice Angel at my Table":
Artist Jeff Mitchell's tribute to Janet Frame
was awarded third prize
held at Treble Cone Ski Resort, Wanaka
(Photo news)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Towards Another Summer in Italy

Another foreign edition of a work by Janet Frame has arrived in the mail box!  

Towards Another Summer translates into Italian as: Verso un'altra estate. It is published by Neri Pozza (July 2012) and translated by Giovanna Scocchera.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bad reviews

"I learned in the early days to cope with reviews. When I was living in London I used to get upset when a reviewer would say my book was ‘unreadable’ and another would call it ‘a work of genius’. I couldn’t go on being upset by the bad ones and believing the good ones. So many gave a clear indication they hadn’t read the book."

~ Janet Frame (Interview with a Canadian newspaper, 1984, reprinted in Janet Frame In Her Own Words Penguin NZ 2011)


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Small but perfectly formed

Designer Anna Egan-Reid holds
the prize-winning book 
(Photo from the PANZ Book Design Awards Facebook page)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Janet Frame @ Frankfurt

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE  is the title of Janet Frame's most famous book, the second volume of her bestselling autobiography, but the name now generally refers to the whole trilogy (also including Volume One: TO THE IS-LAND and Volume Three: THE ENVOY FROM MIRROR CITY).

The phrase 'an angel at my table' refers to a poem (written in French!) by the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Janet Frame's favourite poet.

Publisher CH Beck is releasing a new edition of EIN ENGEL AN MEINER TAFEL later this year, to celebrate the special status of New Zealand as guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Two other Janet Frame titles are being published by Beck in German translation this year: a new edition of Janet Frame's first novel, OWLS DO CRY (WENN EULEN SCHREIN) and the paperback edition of TOWARDS ANOTHER SUMMER (DEM NEUEN SOMMER ENTGEGEN) which recently enjoyed great success in a hardback edition.

As is practically par for the course with Janet Frame, there is some misinformation surrounding the re-release of these three titles in Germany this year.

In some places you may find the suggestion that Janet Frame was 'out of print' in Germany before the New Zealand Government began to promote New Zealand literature in Germany ahead of Frankfurt 2012. This couldn't be more wrong. Janet Frame is one of a handful of New Zealand authors who have been regularly published in Germany (in her case, since 1961).

And all three of the titles being re-released this year by C H Beck were in fact "in print" in German translation the last couple of years (two of the titles were in print with other publishers and the rights were only recently reverted so that Beck could publish their updated versions of older translations).

Another mistake is that three books (two novels and an autobiography) are being represented in various places on the internet either as all three being "autobiographical novels", or, on the other hand, as all three comprising Frame's famed three volumes of "autobiography".

As literary executor, I did put some energy into trying to correct the misinformation but once a horse has bolted onto the internet, there's not much you can do.

In any case, anyone who reads all three books will find many rich correspondences between the life and the work. That's the power of Janet Frame's writing. You believe her, and you know she is speaking with authenticity, even when you are in her fictional world of the imagination.

Owls Do Cry First Edition 1957

Owls Do Cry (Wenn Eulen Schrein) First German Edition 1961

Monday, July 9, 2012

JF non-fiction wins "Best Non-Illustrated Book"!

The exquisitely-designed Janet Frame in Her Own Words (Penguin NZ 2011), edited by Denis Harold & Pamela Gordon, was shortlisted for the Best Cover, and was the winner on the night of the '2012 Hachette New Zealand Award for Best Non-Illustrated Book' at the PANZ Book Design Awards.

Judges commented that "This book is a beautiful object in its own right."

The judges noted that clearly the designer Anna Egan-Reid was deeply interested in the author; that the design beautifully handled a wealth of content in a small format; the book was “a beautiful object in its own right” to handle and touch; and it went straight to the display table in a bookshop.

They also said "We were impressed with the cover – a remarkably intelligent approach."

When Anna Egan-Reid accepted the award she said it was an honour to design a book of this calibre and that she had simply wanted to do justice to Janet Frame.

Buy this book: Fishpond

New book by Janet Frame Prize winner

"Never resist
an idea. Never say no
to a contradiction."

(from 'Cain's Book')

The Bengal Engine's Mango Afterglow (VUP 2012) by Geoff Cochrane is hot off the press, and I've been enjoying reading another slim volume from this excellent poet who combines confession and eclecticism with a carefully crafted and spare presentation.

Many a Geoff Cochrane line is placed to offer a punch or a moment of recognition, even enlightenment, and it's no coincidence that Japanese poets wander in and out of the pieces in this collection - their kind of formal restraint is a style that Cochrane has perfected.

Geoff Cochrane received the 2009 Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry. Since then he has also published The Worm in the Tequila. In a review of that volume, Craig Cliff says:

 "The true joy of reading Geoff Cochrane is in the lines."

 David Eggleton notes that Cochrane is:

"a frugal poet, thriftily recycling anecdotal skerricks and wisps of philosophical thoughts and self-destructive deeds into highly sophisticated works of art"

Monday, July 2, 2012


The Hubert Church Award for the best Prose by a New Zealander:
the prize that saved Janet Frame from a lobotomy
when it was given to her sixty years ago.

Prizes, Awards, Honours and Fellowships earned by Janet Frame
for her short stories, poetry, novels and non-fiction
( a selected list only)

1952 Hubert Church Award (The Lagoon and Other Stories)

1958 NZ Literary Fund Award for Achievement (Owls Do Cry)

1963 Hubert Church Award (Scented Gardens for the Blind)

1964 NZ Literary Fund Scholarship in Letters

1965 Robert Burns Fellow, University of Otago

1967,1969 Residencies at Yaddo Artists' Community, New York

1969 MacDowell Fellow, MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire

1969 NZ Literary Fund Award for Achievement (The Pocket Mirror)

1970,1971 Residencies at Yaddo Artists' Community, New York

1971 NZ Government Annuity for Services to NZ Literature

1973 Hubert Church Award, James Wattie Award (Daughter Buffalo)

1974 Katherine Mansfield Fellow, Menton

1978 Honorary Doctorate of Literature, University of Otago

1980 NZ Book Award for Fiction (Living in the Maniototo)

1982 Residency at Yaddo Artists' Community

1983 Wattie Book of the Year (To the Is-Land)

1983 Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E)

1984 NZ Book Award for Non-fiction (An Angel at My Table)

1984 Turnovsky Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts

1985 Wattie Book of the Year (The Envoy from Mirror City)

1986 Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts And Letters

1987 Inaugural Frank Sargeson  Fellow, University of Auckland

1989 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (The Carpathians)

1990 Member of the Order of New Zealand

1992 Honorary Doctorate of Literature, University of Waikato

1993 Premi Brancati Prize, Italy

1994 Massey University Medal

1996 Gabriela Mistral Medal, Chile

2003 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artist

2003 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. 

2007 Montana NZ Book Award for Poetry (The Goose Bath)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Works by Janet Frame in Swedish

Doftande trädgårdar för de blinda
Scented Gardens for the Blind
Modernista 07-2012

Vid alfabetets gräns
The Edge of the Alphabet
Modernista 07-2012

Ugglor gråter
Owls Do Cry
Modernista 07-2012

Ansikten i vattnet
Faces in the Water
Modernista 07-2012

Mot ännu en sommar
Towards Another Summer
Övers. Rebecca Alsberg
Albert Bonniers Förlag (2010)

Some reviews for Mot ännu en sommar:

Jag kan bara uppmana att läsa hennes böcker.

 Janet Frames både elegans och enkelhet i språket är som stilistiska reningsbad, här finns passager jag aldrig vill glömma. (Ett tack till översättaren Rebecca Alsberg.) Jag vet inte någon annan som naknare, vackrare och ibland smutsigare lyckats gestalta social fobi. Frame förmår bli intimt personlig, utelämnande och ändå bevara en närmast mystisk strålglans till de hemliga rum, hennes inre, dit hon ständigt flyr. Frågorna hårdslipas: om vad det innebär att vara människa och att hitta sin plats på jorden. Graces identitet är inte bland människorna: hon är en fågel! En flyttfågel.

En verklighet med vingar:

”Mot ännu en sommar” är en vacker och drabbande roman som återger en själslig verklighet med en underbar lyskraft i orden. Med skimrande poesi och en på samma gång svart och ömsint humor skildrar Frame den djupa klyftan mellan den inre världen och den yttre och behovet av att skapa ett skyddat rum där fantasin kan sträcka ut sina vingar utan begränsningar.

En av Frames bästa:
Det är en alldeles fantastisk bok

Att läsa författares efterlämnade verk leder ofta till besvikelse, men här finns inget att vara rädd för: ”Mot ännu en sommar” är en fulländad roman, något av det bästa Janet Frame skrev.

Janet Frame i en spegel:
Tonen är dock helt osentimental och riktigt humoristisk. Frame låter sin huvudperson bli så drillad i sina själsliga översättningar att jag som läsare villigt kastar mig över hennes fantasier som vore de mer realistiska än den faktiska handlingen.

En ängel vid mitt bord
An Angel at My Table (Omnibus)

Bonnier Pocket (2009)
Earlier Titles from Bonniers Förlag:
Bodde alltid i Maniototo (1990), Living in the Maniototo (Bonnier)
Till landet Är (1992), To the Is-land (Bonnier)
En ängel vid mitt bord (1993), An Angel at My table (Bonnier)
Sändebud från Spegelstaden (1993), The Envoy from Mirror City (Bonnier)

Ansikten i vattnet (1997), Faces in the Water (Bonnier)

Lagunen (2003), The Lagoon (Bonnier)

The writing is on the wall

Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central and Deputy Leader of the NZ Labour Party, pastes up a Janet Frame poem poster in Wellington's Cuba Mall on Friday 29th June 2012.

Sticking Up for Poetry
by  Richard Langston

 Many moonlit nights ago, Grant Robertson crept around Dunedin pasting up posters announcing gigs by bands he managed or his intention to storm the political barricades by becoming the Otago University Student President.

The bands he championed might have long since played their last gigs, but Grant’s political career is still in its ascendancy – you might have seen him stand and deliver across the house as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

But yesterday afternoon he briefly returned to his former nocturnal activity of pasting up posters – this time in Cuba Street Wellington posting a couple of large sheets of words by two of our finest poets, Janet Frame and James K Baxter.

Ben from Phantom helps Grant paste up a poem by James K. Baxter next to the Janet Frame one. As well as being two of New Zealand's most loved poets, Janet Frame and Jim Baxter were also close friends. And the 29th of June would have been 'Hemi' Baxter's birthday so this was fine timing!

Grant was happy to do so to acknowledge the splendid work done by Jim Wilson and Phantom Billstickers in producing posters of the work of our poets and pasting them up in the street and in and on buildings all around the world.

It was also to mark the upcoming National Poetry Day (July 27) which Phantom Billstickers will celebrate in the coming weeks by placing thousands of posters around the country.

 I had a chat with Grant while he got glue on himself, wrestled with broom, bucket, and posters in the wind, and aided by a few lads from Phantom, eventually even managed to get a few on the wall.

R: So a remembrance of things past Grant?

G: Yeah the technique’s still pretty much the same, a bit of glue on the bottom poster, a bit of glue on the poster, and most of the glue on me (laughs).

R: When did you used to do this?

G: Ah, mainly in the early ‘90s in Dunedin putting up posters for bands and putting up my own posters when I was in student politics.

R: What did they look like?

G: They were pretty low tech. They weren’t as well produced as these, but when I ran for student president I had a campaign putting my head on famous peoples’ faces, so I was with the Kennedy brothers and the moon landing I think, and Martin Luther King (laughs).

R: These were good times…

G: Yeah, yeah. The posters were a huge part of campaigning in those days, pre-internet, so this was how you got your message out.

R: Seeing the posters…words on posters, it’s really effective isn’t it…

G: These particular ones (poems by Janet Frame and James K Baxter) are particularly effective. You get a lot of visual imagery in posters, that’s what essentially posters are, but putting the words, white on black in the form of a poem that people recognize is really effective.

R: Do you know much about Jim Wilson and his work with Phantom Billstickers?

G: A little bit yeah but I don’t know him personally, but I’m aware of what he does and seeing his work of putting New Zealand poems around the world is fascinating, all sorts of places getting them out there. I mean I used to live in New York so when the shots come up (on Facebook) from Jim of the posters from New York I think’s that’s fantastic. It’s great.

R: It’s a tremendous service isn’t it, poetry works in certain places, on the Tube in London, and putting them on walls is quite effective…

G: It’s something in Wellington too, there’s public poetry around Wellington down on the waterfront, they have taken the time to have them inscribed in the concrete, this is another method of that, and I think it’s great. Poetry is a public medium, it should be anyway so it’s great to see it out there.

R: Coming down to do this today…

G: I appear to have got nearly as much glue on me as I used to in the old days. These guys it’s much more organized. Phantom Billstickers is a respectable company that does its thing, it’s not guerilla warfare we used to have in Dunedin anyway.

R: Thanks so much Grant.

G: Cheers, Richard.

Grant also mentioned he was delighted to be putting up the Janet Frame poem, ‘The End’ as ‘Owls Do Cry’ is his favourite NZ novel.

Reproduced with kind permission. 
Richard Langston is a poet and freelance journalist who blogs at:

The first Janet Frame poem poster "Before I get into sleep with you" was produced by Phantom Billstickers in 2006, for a Montana NZ Poetry Day poster promotion. Frame's poem was printed on the circle amongst the other red geometric shapes in the snapshot above. Other poets represented were: Tusiata Avia, Hinemoana Baker and Bill Manhire.