Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NEWS FROM THE IIML -excerpts from the always interesting newsletter

The festival that lasts for weeks

 Writers on Mondays is back – this year curated by Bernadette Hall, and once again hosted by Te Papa.  If you’re interested to hear any of the following writers, check out the programme.

Airini Beautrais, Jenny Bornholdt, Bernadette Hall, Hinemoana Baker, Emma Barnes, James Brown, Kate Camp, Geoff Cochrane, Jennifer Compton, Anna Jackson, Anna Livesey, John Newton, Kerrin Sharpe, Dinah Hawken, Pat White, Charlotte Randall, Laurence Fearnley, Albert Belz, Briar Grace Smith, Tanya Moir, Hamish Clayton and Patrick Evans. 

We are delighted that the poet and musician Joy Harjo, who is visiting in August to lead a masterclass for our MA students, has kindly agreed to be part of Writers on Mondays as well.  She will appear in a special session on August 15th, chaired by Patricia Grace.

 Outside of our Twitter feed, it can take us a while to catch up with the news, but big congratulations to Pip Adam & Lynn Jenner, who have received the best first book awards for fiction and poetry in the NZ Post Book Awards. And congratulations, too, to Laurence Fearnley, whose novel The Hut Builder is shortlisted in the fiction category.  Harry Ricketts, with co-editor Paula Green, is also there in the non-fiction category for 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry - the book which led Michael Hulse to write in the winter issue of New Zealand Books: "New Zealand has been punching above its weight for decades in the art of poetry, and shows no sign of stopping".  And he hasn't even seen The Best of Best New Zealand Poems yet.

The shortlist announcement for the NZ Post Book Awards is here and winners are announced in Wellington on July 27th.

 It's troubling that the shortlists have barely been noticed by main stream media - the lesson we must learn is that the Book Awards as they are currently conceived have no actual news value. There has been lots of discussion about the length of the fiction list, and about the absence of some contenders, but it's mainly been in blogs and social media.  The most missed title among bloggers and tweeters was Patrick Evans's Gifted. And the Twitter world also picked up a remark first posted, if we recall correctly, on Beattie's Blog: "The Book Awards are fast becoming the Wellywood sign of the book world . . ."

Some of the discussions of the Book Awards have been happening here and here and here and here and here and here.

We hear murmurs from various quarters about the need - long-standing in our view - for a set of book awards that aim solely to acknowledge literary merit.  We will be happy to join in any murmurings likely to result in action.

The above are but three items (out of 21) taken from  the 170th   in a series of occasional newsletters from the Victoria University centre of the International Institute of Modern Letters. For more information about any of the items, please email modernletters. You can also read this newsletter online.

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