Susie is a writer, multimedia artist and descendant of the Wergaia and Wemba Wemba people from North Western Victoria. Her practice is concerned with the distances between place and people, themes she explores through poetry and media-based works. Based in Sydney.
In this episode I spoke with one of my favourite Wellington poets Nina Powles. I first spent time with Nina around Helen Rickerby’s table where a group of us were hand-binding copies of her first collection Girls of the Drift
Nina is an outstanding poet, non-fiction writer and zinemaker. She is half Malaysian-Chinese, half Pākehā. Nina has an MA in creative writing from Victoria University of Wellington and won the 2015 Biggs Family Prize for Poetry for the first draft of Luminescent. She is the author of the chapbook Girls of the Drift (Seraph Press, 2014) and several poetry zines.
The five colourful chapbooks that make up Luminescent are intended to be read in any order and are gathered together in a cover folder evocative of the night-sky. Each section loosely explores the life and context of a New Zealand woman, from the famous, such as celebrated writer Katherine Mansfield (Sunflowers) and cosmologist Beatrice Tinsley (The Glowing Space Between the Stars), to the possibly fictional school ghost ((Auto)Biography of a Ghost); in between is early settler and whaler’s wife Betty Guard (Whale Fall), and ill-fated dancer Phyllis Porter (Her and the Flames), who died after her dress caught fire onstage at Wellington’s Opera House.
Bad Things, is about the different ways in which we survive. Political and personal, the collection navigates celebrity encounters, women and work, the weight of expectation, and the pasts we try to escape and the people we try to hold on to. These poems are dreamlike, confronting, funny, and sometimes unashamedly weird.
When we first talked about getting together for a chat, Louise suggested we talk about some of the books that were important to her while she was writing Bad Things.
So in this episode, as well as talking about Louise’s fantastic book we also talk about:
I spoke with Rhydian Thomas, a writer and musician from South Wales who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. His writing has appeared in The Pantograph Punch, Sport, Hue & Cry and Turbine. He has released music with The Body Lyre and Strangers.
With the 2023 NZ election approaching on Milk Island, the novel’s four main characters are interwoven into the same sprawling web of prisons, politics, tourism and media. On the former South Island, patriotism and prosperity trumps all else and life matters very little unless you’re Milky Moo, the nation’s favourite genetically-enhanced cow.
The cast of characters includes:
A freelance farming journalist who infiltrates the Press Gallery for a behind-the-scenes tour of New Zealand’s reconstructed South Island.
A new inmate in Christchurch Men’s dairying prison who wails a tale of blood and milk to the interactive avatar of comedian Billy T James.
A private agri-prison operator who juggles two escapees and a political hit, with far too much of her money and pride riding on a prison fight.
A rogue Twitter account who wanders the wilderness of Milk Island, reporting on environmental collapse under accusations of domestic terrorism.
“It is a very serious joke,” says Wellington-based author Rhydian Thomas. “I have spent years of my life on this joke. I hope someone will laugh at it.”
I started this podcast because I had a theory that all books were about writing. That if I talked to writers about books I’d could learn something about how they wrote. I had this idea that talking about a book not written by an author would tell me something about their craft that asking them about their craft couldn’t.
NEON CAPITALISM Image licensed under Creative Commons by Flickr user Gino
I’m not sure how this experiment is going. I have no idea what the findings are because really, I’ve been a bit swept up in what I’m learning about reading.
When I started this series, I wasn’t completely convinced by Oryx and Crake. I had some misgivings. I worried that I’d chosen the wrong book, they we should be reading The Handmaiden’s Tale. But as I’ve talked to people they’ve shown me, through their reading, that actually Oryx and Crake is quite an exceptional book. You’ll hear me in this episode with the awesome prose writer Antonia Bale come to a state of mind-explosion about how exactly this book talks to our moment in time. Antonia first read this book in a fevered weekend and has since gone back to it and I really benefited from her close reading and the passion she has for this trilogy.
Antonia is the only guest in this series who hasn’t been on the podcast before. So here’s a brief bio.
AntoniaBale is currently writing a collection of short stories for her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML. She’s a proud Wellingtonian and works as writer and senior content producer at a digital agency. Reading is her first love. Her favourite short story writers include George Saunders, Tracey Slaughter, Tobias Wolff, Janet Frame, Wells Tower and Katherine Mansfield. When it comes to novels, she’s a big fan of Charles Dickens and Toni Morrison. She’s currently reading Bad Behaviour, a collection of short storiesby Mary Gaitskill. She heard about it on Better Off Read 😉
Better off Read is available on iTunes where you can subscribe by clicking here
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Or you can listen to it here:
Episode 47: Oryx and Crake Series 3 – Pip Adam talks to Antonia Bale