Signing off for 2011

Hard to believe the year is nearly over. Feels much longer. And much shorter. So much has happened. So much lost.

We did the Cathedral walkway last weekend – a friend who has already done it commented tat it was a bit like being told someone had died and then being shown the bed they’d died in, already remade. I know what she meant – the empty spaces are less distressing than the piles of rubble, or the buildings with tattered curtains flapping through broken windows. And I felt pretty calm and resigned to it all as we were walking around.

Until we got to the cathedral.

I’m not a Christian, and I’ve got no personal ties to the cathedral. Except the ones we all have – that it was the symbolic heart of the city, and something we regarded with affection. And seeing it like that had me in floods of tears before I even knew what was happening. It’s not like the Knox church, which is strangely beautiful in its bare bones. This is a stricken building. The remains of the rose window; the statues with grass growing around them; the scaffolding. I’ve never appreciated the Chalice quite so much before, but having it there, whole and straight, gave me something to look at when I couldn’t bare the sight of the cathedral any more. But then you look back again, and notice more – the broken stained glass. The little cupola, tucked away under the trees. And the naked sky behind, where there used to be buildings.

But then you move on – literally, as well as figuratively. As much as you can, anyway.

Looking back at this year, I’ve been a pretty busy woman. Only ten poems completed, but one of those was “Fare”, which must count for a couple of extras, surely! And I have drafts of the same number again in various stages of completeness, so that’s not too bad. I’ve judged three competitions; been a guest reader in Invercargill, Auckland, Dunedin, Greymouth, and even Christchurch (Hagley Park, plus Beat Street – thanks guys!). Reviewed two books for the NZPS (and you can read those reviews here and here) and a couple for myself; read a lot of other poetry, good and bad. Discovered Christopher Logue’s Homer, and dallied with Don Paterson Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets (very interesting, and I’ll be blogging about it next year). Taught two classes in Christchurch, and ran two workshops out. Got my restricted license; buried both my grandmothers; got turned down by CNZ. And that’s without even considering the earthquakes, the snowstorms and the Rugby World Cup.

One hell of a year.

On the immediate horizon, I’ve got my minimum numbers for the two Summer Poetry classes. So the sign-up dates have now been extended to a week before each class. In other words, if your summer leaves you feeling restless and in need of some poetry focus, there is time yet for you to decide to join us.

A new Reading for Writing class will begin on March 10th, running for five weeks, Saturday mornings 10.30 am to 1.30 pm at the South Christchurch Library Learning Centre. It’s $45, and limited to 18 people, so if you want to sign up for that then sooner rather than later would be advisable. (Details and contact form here.)

And plans are afoot for an even more extravagant Guy Fawkes weekend in Greymouth – a poetry train! A group trip across the mountains on the TranzAlpine from Christchurch to Greymouth, possibly with a workshop on board as we go, and then a reading and workshop(s) over the weekend. And possibly a reciprocal tour by West Coast poets, making the journey in reverse the following weekend (or month, or …) and giving a reading in Christchurch. The frighteningly efficient Greg O’Connell is on the case, and I’ll post details when they come to hand. Mark the weekend of November 3rd and 4th 2012 in your diaries.

Congratulations to Helen Lowe, for being selected as the 2012 Ursula Bethell fellow – sharing the title with Dunedin poet, David Eggleton. I understand Helen is planning to use the time to work on #3 in the marvelous Wall of Night series. Hooray! Congratulations also to Marisa Cappetta, who has won this year’s Margaret Mahey award for the best 1st year folio at the Hagley Writers’ Institute. Hooray again!

So that’s it from me for another year. To keep you alternating between amused and horrified while I’m away, feel free to check out this list of the world’s 11 Most Unintentionally Creepy Christmas Ornaments, which serve to remind us all that Santa is an anagram of Satan. Auckland’s Santa made #1. You have been warned. Merry Christmas!

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