Being and Reading in En Zed

Racheal Weti: Tahi, Aotearoa

I live in Aotearoa. It’s a simple statement, but it’s taken me a couple years to say it and mean it. I’ve been travelling for a long while, see. I’m the tortoise on the go — never very fast, comfy with my shell on my back. I sold all my stuff and moved onto my sailboat in 2002 and have not looked back. Tens of thousands of ocean miles and a second baby later, I arrived in EnZed.  And though I’ve resisted calling anywhere home for a long while, I think that’s what is happening here: I think this just might be home. My kids go to school — and wear jandals. I know the locals better than the arriving sailors this season. I have a cell phone. I have mates. I’m about to have morning tea. Crikey, I might actually belong here.

I’m discovering trees I never knew, stories hidden in glaciers, wakas and hakas. From the rock stars of NZ writing — Katherine Mansfield, Janet Frame, Maurice Gee — to folks whose work I’ve just become familiar with,  there’s more than a lifetime of reading at my fingertips (shopping bags for groceries? check. shopping bags for library? check) — and I’ve only just begun. Here are some things I’ve encountered since I first sailed past Cape Brett, things I keep coming back to.

Robert Sullivan, Waka 100, from his Star Waka

Maurice Gee, In My Father’s Den (movie version is killer, too)

Nigel Cox, Phone Home Berlin and Tarzan Presley

Tim Jones, Books in the Trees

The Nature of Things: Poems from the NZ Landscape (edited by James Brown and Photography by Craig Potton)

New Zealand Books: a quarterly review

The Lumiere Reader (film criticism and arts review)

Jacket2: Twelve New Zealand Poets

Jennifer Compton, This City

Peter Bland, Coming Ashore

Sam Hunt, Chords

And now there’s a new community of writers developing around Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction.  Say hello to Raewyn Alexander, Derek Jones, Derin Attwood, Jenny Baker, Maree Bishop, Megan Doyle Corcoran, Mike Crowl, Katharine Derrick, Rachel J Fenton, Stephen Garside, Sally Houtman, Daniel Ingledew, Jac Jenkins, Tim Jones, Graeme Lay, Lesley Marshall, Simon Minto, Karen Phillips, Gus Simonovic, Campbell Taylor, Wendy Williamson and Matthew Zela.

And finally, let’s not forget that New Zealand is the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Bookfair in 2012. Before sailing across oceans, Germany was my home. In fact, I think Germany was the last place I really thought of as home, along with the shores of the Chesapeake. So this whole Germany-New Zealand love affair is something well worth exploring. Welcome to the Aotearoa Affair: A Cross- Cultural Blog Fest  and the first edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, featuring stories, poems and other reflections by Keri Hulme, Marcus Speh, Christopher Allen, Kes Young, Emma Barnes, Rachel Fenton, Megan Doyle Corcoran, Hinemoana Baker, Tim Jones, Patrizia Monzani, Jürgen Fauth, Kate Brown, Helen Lowe, Linda Evans Hofke, Trish Nicholson, Piet Nieuwland, Raewyn Alexander, Martin Porter, Aidan Howard, Rae Roadley and Michael O’Leary. And my co-editor and German counterpart, Dorothee Lang.

Past, meet present.

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4 Responses to Being and Reading in En Zed

  1. dorothee21 says:

    Loved those last line of your entry: “Past, meet present”. So interesting and inspiring, to follow your journey in your blog. And such a beautiful web of connection, the Aotearoa Affair – a journey in itself.
    PS: Katherine Mansfield, i read one of her stories in the collection of NZ literature, too – the collection starts in the past and leads to the now.

    • Thanks for the comment — it’s true, too; I feel past meeting present as I peruse pages about Germany whilst sitting here in the Bay of Islands. Glad we are on this one journey together, Dorothee. You never know where the road will lead…

  2. Christopher says:

    Lovely post, Michelle! It’s a grand thing to find “HOME”.

  3. Doug says:

    Thanks Michelle for directing me here…beautiful journey and a beautiful post.

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