Blog Carnival 6: All About Frankfurt

We said Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE was the last Blog Carnival, but when we saw the photos, links and updates from Frankfurt, we knew we had to put together one more carnival edition.

So we bring you a special addendum to the 2012 Blog Carnival series: a final Carnival which features reports from Frankfurt.

For those of you who didn’t get to go, we hope this shares the experience a little more closely. And for those of you who went, we thank you for sharing your own encounters and reflections with our readers.

See the Ehrengast / Guest of Honour  page at the Frankfurt site here.

photo by Jürgen Fauth


We begin in the New Zealand Pavillion, where Wellington actor Matu Ngaropo brought New Zealand authors to life in his performance of ‘Secrets’.

“The show, conceived by Mike Mizrahi of Inside Out Productions, lasts for 20 minutes and plays twice an hour. Part of the performance sees Ngaropo standing in the rain, reciting a poem by Hone Tuwhare. That means getting wet.”

More here.


The opening’s highlights included speeches by Bill Manhire and Joy Cowley (with a reading from her recently translated book Snake and Lizard). You can read more here.


And New Zealand’s numbers are up this year “New Zealand Shines”:

This year 83 New Zealand books are being translated into German, compared to a previous annual average of 10.

More here.


Radio New Zealand aired a show on the opening with Amelia Nurse, who checked out how Wellington writers, poets and translators celebrated the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair here.

Photo by Jürgen Fauth


Radio New Zealand reports on the expectations set by the opening of the fair which will gain New Zealand “unprecedented exposure”. Hear more here.


And of course there were television reports as well, with overviews of the opening and the expectations around the biggest book fair in the world.

national kapa haka champs from Rotorua in Frankfurt

With 65,000 German tourists arriving in New Zealand each year, this opportunity was about more than books — it was about bringing New Zealand to Europe in a way never before seen. Seen as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Guest of Honour status is touted by some as being more important than 2011’s Rugby World Cup. More here.


Here we see how the nearly $6 million that went into the New Zealand pavilion set the mark high. This report includes excerpts from the opening including a brief reading by poet Glen Colquhoun, and an interview with one of the 65 authors Kate DiGoldi. More here.


Even Rotoruans set their sights high at Frankfurt this year, as the national kapa haka champions Te Matarae I Orehutook their performance to Germany to open the book fair. More here.


And in a slightly related story 1000 km from Frankfurt, Rotorua makes international news earlier in October as a Te Arawa meeting house is unveiled in Hamburg after a major restoration project. It was shipped to German collector in 1908 and reassembled in 1912. It has now finally been opened again at the Volkerkundemuseum (Museum of Ethnology). See more about this “once-in-a-century celebration” in which over 60 Rotoruans participated here.


Of course, before the Fair even got underway, controversy was brewing about the extent to which New Zealand authors would be fairly represented at the fair, with organisers accused of laying a heavy emphasis on New Zealand as exotic, not as a country of earnest writers. In June, the Frankfurter Allgemeine posted an article by Andreas Platthaus which questioned the nature of New Zealand’s presence at the fair and the presumption that New Zealand organisers placed emphasis on food, drink travel over literature (article here; translation here). Numerous articles and commentaries were posted on this topic (see for example this Radio New Zealand interview with Kyle Mewburn), but Paula Morris’s speech to the German media in June which addressed this question (and was transcribed in The Listener) is well worth revisiting:

New Zealanders and New Zealand writers don’t live in a state of splendid isolation. We look back. We look forwards. We look outwards. Like all writers everywhere, we like to complain, and joke, and investigate, and to try to make sense of what we experience and observe around us.

More here.


photo by Jürgen Fauth

It was big…

And it was big. Big words, big crowds, big news  for New Zealand:

“I knew it was going to be big,” remarked author Eleanor Catton.

“But I have been amazed. Picture an international airport, hangars included: that’s about the scale of the building, and every hall is filled with stalls and crowds. It’s truly overwhelming.”

Says children’s book author Brian Falkner: “It’s about the same size as a small New Zealand town. Possibly bigger.”

More here.


Live Broadcasts from the action — Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill goes to Frankfurt.

photo by Jürgen Fauth

Kim Hill broadcasts live from the James Bar of the English Theatre, Frankfurt, on the occasion of New Zealand’s Guest of Honour 2012 visit to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Guests this hour include German journalist Tina Mendelsohn, architect Andrew Patterson, event organiser Mike Mizrahi and restaurateur Peter Gordon. (49′21″). Part One.

Interviews with Joe Harawira, composer Leon Radojkovic and producer Phil Evans and art writer and curator Justin Paton. (38′22″). Part Two.

Interviews with fiction writer Paula Morris, poet and writer Kate Camp, art commentator and writer Hamish Clayton and publisher Sam Elworthy. (53′02″). Part Three.

Interviews with musician Norman Meehan, businesswoman Hana Pomare, publisher Fergus Barrowman and chief executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Lewis Holden. (44′49″). Part Four


The Transit of Venus project played a big role at the book fair too. This project’s visionary was the late Dr. Paul Callaghan whose vision included a conference which, among other things, included poets invited by Bill Manhire to exchange ideas with German poets.

We are using this extraordinary phenomenon in 2012 to provide the focus for a major event on the East Coast of New Zealand, where Cook first landed.

There will be a forum on 7 and 8 June 2012, in Gisborne, that will be aimed at a new generation of New Zealand thinkers:  policy makers, journalists, educators, business people, community leaders and other interested New Zealanders will be invited.  There we will confront our current realities and risks and put forward some bold and optimistic opportunities for development.

The transit of Venus will be the symbol of a passage to a new chapter in New Zealand history – a transit point for our view of what is possible in building a country that is not only beautiful but smart, prosperous, just, inclusive and ambitious, in which a vibrant Maori economy plays an essential part in our big future.

More from Paul Callaghan and his vision here.

Sponsored by the Goethe Institute, the cultural exchange which took place in celebration of the transit of Venus was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for writers from New Zealand and Germany to collaborate.

The Transit of Venus Poetry Exchange provides an opportunity for New Zealand and German writers to work collaboratively within the framework of the Frankfurt Book Fair, at which New Zealand is this year’s guest of honour. In June the German poets Uwe Kolbe, Brigitte Oleschinski and Ulrike Almut Sandig will visit New Zealand for the Transit of Venus. They will experience the transit together with the New Zealand poets Hinemoana Baker, Glenn Colquhoun and Chris Price. Afterwards they will discover New Zealand and participate in workshops and readings. 

More here.

These poets presented their works in Frankfurt and participated in the NZ celebrations. A video in German about the Transit of Venus collaboration can be viewed here.

And the Listener report on this project including Guy Somerset’s interviews with the poetry participants can be found here.


…and on a distantly related note, we came across this in our internet meanderings and place it here too — New Zealand mulit-instrumentalist Kristie Addison’s band Transit of Venus. Have a listen here.


In their own words… bloggers on Frankfurt

Robert Sullivan blogs about his experiences in Frankfurt, from his arrival and his first meal (including a Bavarian liver loaf and a Mosel wine), to the sales of his book Star Waka in translation (the German version Sternen Waka  translated by Jörg-Stephan Mohr and Lotta Schneidemesser), to his experiences meeting other Kiwi writers he travelled thousands of miles to see.

Afterwards we headed to the Römer, the medieval heart of the city. Jörg and Lotta were determined to share a traditional meal with me and so we looked for a Gemütlich, a place to eat which does not really have an English synonym.

More here.

 I sponged lunch off award winning novelist Paula Morris and her husband Tom Moody on my arrival, and dinner off poet Harry Ricketts at a delightful beer hall in the middle of the city. I caught the tram with bestselling authors Nalini Singh and Emily Perkins, while it was fantastic to see my old friend and art historian/broadcaster Justin Paton who is nearing the end of the Mansfield Fellowship. It was a great treat to meet the novelist Barbara Ewing, and to spend time with dear friends Jan Kemp, Anna Jackson and Dieter Riemenschneider. Is this networking? I don’t think so. It’s part of belonging to a vibrant literary community.

More here.


photo by Jürgen Fauth

Catherine Robertson documents her days and nights in a most amusing way in “I missed Arnie in Frankfurt”:

Friday: do a reading at the Kobo stand with NZ crime thriller writer Paul Cleave, who is hung over, and Nalini, who is fresh-faced and lovely as always, God rot her. Both Nalini and Paul are huge in Germany, so I hope a bit of their Teutonic mojo will rub off on me. I ask the American Kobo man if it’s Ok that my reading contains a bit of strong language. He says “I don’t see any children here.” I’m not sure he’s expecting ‘c**k-s****r’, though, as I hear a distinct sharp intake of breath from his direction. The Aussie Kobo man, by contrast, laughs like a drain. After that, Nalini keeps the ‘F-word’ in her reading, and Paul intro’s his by saying, “I have no swear words, so before I start: ‘F**k!’ and ‘C**k-s****r!’”. Who needs Fifty Shades of Grey when you have us?

More here.


Katy Derbyshire (whose latest translation projects can be find here at Words Without Borders and here in one of our final Aotearoa Affair features) blogs about early mornings and late nights in “Frankfurted”:

photo by Jürgen Fauth

I’m all Frankfurted out. It was lovely. Except when it was horrible and I’d had enough of seething masses of bodies and glossy displays and superficial conversation. But even then I ran into the perfect grumpy person with whom to indulge in a great moaning session.

I do love book fairs, and yes, I know I’ve told you that before. I love strolling around and meeting people and saying hello and getting chatting and exchanging compliments and swapping tips. Because it’s the social aspect that counts most for me. I’m tempted to just write a long list of all the lovely people I met and all the lovely people I missed, but that might not be very interesting for anyone else. So here’s what I did instead.

More here.


Tina Makareti writes about arriving in Frankfurt to participate in the Weltkulturen Museum residency and her experience with the tauihu (canoe prow) at the Face to Face exhibit.

My Frankfurt may have been a bit different from the Frankfurt most other New Zealanders experienced in October 2012. I’m not the only one. There were seven of us that turned up at various times during September and October, to take up residence at Weltkulturen Museum’s two apartments in Villa 37.

More here.

 From my studies in Māori art, I could interpret in a general way much of the meaning of the carving, but I also saw much of the history of Aotearoa played out in the journey the tauihu had taken from being part of an active waka taua in New Zealand to being stored in a museum in Europe. For me the startling realisation was that the tauihu had been witness to at least the last hundred years of Europe’s history as well

More here.


And while we’re in the Weltkulturen Museum let’s stop briefly at the exhibits there this month, both related to New Zealand’s presence in Frankfurt and running through October 28.

First, an exhibit called FACE TO FACE / KANOHI KI TE KANOHI / FA’AFESAGA’I, designed with New Zealand’s special Guest of Honour status in mind.

Also, an exhibit that features New Zealand zines and underground publications can be viewed under the title Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People.

Selected zines in the exhibit include The John Dory Report, Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, Common-Sense Nihilist, Animalz, Manga Mania, Neighbourhood Cats, Daily Secretion, Permanent Vacation, Celebretard, Cupcake Monster, The National Grid, White Fungus and Millenium Falcon.

More here.


Lawrence Patchett considers his three favourite things from Frankfurt, and then some:

A diverse cluster of poets read brilliantly in the New Zealand Poetry Sampler. They included Harry Ricketts, Anna Jackson, and Robert Sullivan. Among my favourites were Ricketts’ clever celebration of misadventure, ‘On Failure’. Another was Sullivan’s subtle elegy for a beloved car, amongst other things, ‘Honda Waka’: ‘That Honda has seen a high percentage/ of my poetry./ Now I have left it behind.’ 

More here.


Marcus Speh considers muscles and sex in Frankfurt:

I’m reading an article in a German newspaper about the book fair. The author complains about the whiny self-involved Frankfurt scene and mentions New Zealand, too. («Maori. Sheep. Dugouts. Falls. More sheep.») She identifies “muscles and sex” as the lowest common thematic denominator of this fair.

Ich lese in der Zeitung DIE WELT von der Buchmesse. Die Autorin beklagt sich über die schwülstig-selbstverliebte Frankfurter Literaturszene. Auch Neuseeland darf erwähnt werden. («Maori. Schafe. Einbäume. Wasserfälle. Noch mehr Schafe.»)  Sie identifiziert «Muskeln und Sex» als kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner  dieser Messe.

More here in English — and here in German. 


Dorothee Lang happened to be at the Book Fair the day the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced,  and reads into one of Mo Yan’s book that evening:

Back home I checked my bookshelf – and indeed, I still had the copy of Mo Yan’s book “Red Sorghum” (which is titled “Das Rote Kornfeld” in German). It’s one of the books I started, but didn’t finish, a book with multiple timelines that reach back to the time when Japan invaded China..”

More here.


From the Frankfurt Blog

Now, some posts from the Frankfurt Book Fair Blog…

On the opening: “Culture is a process, not a state.”

New Zealand, the Guest of Honour country at this year’s Fair, has a rich heritage that they have brought to share with us in their “While You Were Sleeping” program.  As New Zealand writer Bill Manhire mentioned in his speech, Kiwis tend to be self-deprecating and modest, but in their embrace of the Maori culture, the beautiful poetry and prose of their writers, and the love of their land, we see their importance in the international cultural dialogue.

More here.


Paula Morris, author of Rangitira:  “Books Mattered. New Zealand Mattered.”

Seeing signs for New Zealand everywhere we went, not just at the Book Fair but all over the city, where exhibitions and related events were going on; we even saw a poster for a nightclub featuring New Zealand DJs. We’d taken over the Fair and we’d taken over Frankfurt. …It was an exhilarating time, I have to say, especially getting the chance to talk about New Zealand books, history, society and culture with so many engaged German audiences.

More here.


NZ YA novelists talk about the future and writing for an audience between child and adult.

Today, New Zealand young adult and children’s writers Brian Falkner and Kate De Goldi spoke to journalist Rosie Goldsmith on the New Zealand Forum stage about “Writing for Our Futures” and all that entails.

More here.


Lucy Diver reports on the “Business Breakfast NZ – the nuts and bolts of Kiwi publishing”:

Firstly they gave an overview of New Zealand as a country, then the publishing market overall. There was  a lot of information to soak up, but here are a few key insights for publishers looking to get into the New Zealand market.

  • Firstly, New Zealand and Australia are not the same.

Also: she discusses how Kiwi publishers are nice.

More here.


P. Lependorf on the state of modern translation: “You say Tomato, I say Tomaat”:

The panel largely addressed a just-published report on translation and spoke about the goals of the “New Conditions for Literary Translation in Europe.” This project is called PETRA (an acronym for their platform for literary translation in Europe). It aims to bring together various stakeholders in the field of literary translation, starting with translators and their organizations, and also reaching out to those in education and training, and in publishing in various roles (agents, publishers, etc.).

More here.


Greg Broadmore on “Comics and New Zealand and Weta”:

It turns out Weta Workshop is not the best place on Earth – that is ‘any beach in Rarotonga’ – but it is bloody amazing nonetheless.

More here.


Erix Cox on the Weta Workshop:

 But, one can’t focus only on the changing technology because that is how stories are all pulled out of shape. In the end, no matter the effects or devices, it’s all about the story.

More here.

photo by Jurgen Fauth


Bidding New Zealand farewell which included a poetry reading by Hinemoana Baker and a novel excerpt by Brazilian author Milton Hatoum  as well as a speech by New Zealand festival organiser Tanea Heke, the song “Purianie” and the haka “Ke Mate”.

The brief video with excerpts, “Hola Brazil”, shows how New Zealand passed its Guest of Honour status from 2012 to the 2013 Guest of Honour. You can view here.

photo by Jürgen Fauth

In the end, New Zealand broke all sorts of records with its presence in Frankfurt.

Fair director Juergen Boos said it was the first time in the fair’s history a Guest of Honour had managed to have presence in every hall of the fair, including the comics zone, educational publishers, gourmet gallery, outdoor space and transmedia conference Storydrive.

Weekend attendances at the New Zealand pavilion also broke attendance records. By mid Saturday morning 15,000 people had visited the spectacular twilight setting and that soared to about 90,000 by the end of the weekend.

More here.


And of course, there was Hobbit-mania too. More here and the prizegiving for the costume competition here.

photo by Jürgen Fauth

Thanks to Jürgen Fauth who provided such wonderful photos from the Frankfurt Book Fair. For more of his photos, go here.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Blog Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE


This is the last of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnivals before the Frankfurt Bookfair — happening this week, October 10-14. For this carnival, we asked contributors to share entries for the theme A VIEW FROM HERE and we ended up with a beautiful collection of photography, poetry, story and reports from all around New Zealand and Germany. We begin in the north of New Zealand and meander through Northland to the west coast, from big city to country meadows, and all the way to ChristChurch — and in between we scoot from Bavaria to Scotland, from Berlin to Hikurangi.

Welcome to A VIEW FROM HERE. 


Trish Nicholson // 90 Mile Beach, Northland, NZ

1 x 90 Mile Beach. Words not supplied.

Trish Nicholson, a much travelled anthropologist, now writes short stories and creative non-fiction. Author of two recent eBook travelogues for Collca, she is currently writing a travel memoir of Papua New Guinea. But Trish was a photographer before she was a writer, grabbing her mother’s Box Brownie camera at the age of three and shooting the family dog in the rear. She lives in the Far North of New Zealand and posts words and pictures on her website Words in the Trees.  


Beate Jones // Waikato, NZ


Once autumn was a symphony for me

Of colours and of falling leaves

Of soft footsteps in frosty grass

Of secret rustles in the park nearby

The grey of cold damp mornings

And of foggy dusks

was part of it

As was the blazing blue

Of the clear skies around a dazzling, icy sun.

Once that was so –

Today the autumns are a gentle song

Leading me from the glory of hot summer days

To winter’s mild downpour of ever-present rain

While far away the dreamy buds

Of a new spring


Beate Jones has been teaching German for more than 20 years at the University of Waikato. She is currently enrolled in a PhD in Literary Translation at Victoria University in Wellington. Writing poetry, short stories and the translation from German to English of a range of texts has been an interesting and challenging sideline to her work.


Paula Green // Auckland, NZ

(for Jen)

If you look beneath the floorboards
of this poem you might find
the endless days of rain and wind
on the Waitakere ranges.

Between the walls you might see
a garden that needs spring plants.

You might stumble upon
the story of a mathematician
who knits a patches for a quilt because she
can never remember what she saw
the month before

or the story of a philosopher
who walks in circles
to touch the meaning of life
or lost things or why the heart
and not the lungs
registers the pulse of love.

My house waits
with its creaking walls
and everything
is the same and then

The wind crackles.
The bouillabaisse needs stirring.
Perhaps it needs more salt.

Paula Green is a poet, reviewer, anthologist and children’s author. She also has a doctorate in Italian literature. Paula has published seven poetry collections including several for children. She reviews poetry for the New Zealand Herald and visits schools regularly. Co-written with Harry Ricketts, her book 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry was short-listed for the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards. She has recently edited Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems and is a judge for the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards, has edited Best NZ Poems and judged the NZ Post Secondary School Poetry competition. Her new collection of poems, The Baker’s Thumbprint, will be published next year.


Siri Emblem & Gus Simonovic // somewhere between Auckland and…

Gus Simonovic and Siri Embla view the world through poetry and play. Here’s just one view from them.

Gus Simonovic has lived in other countries and spoken other languages. He has toured his spoken-word poetry and multi-media performance art in the UK and Europe as well as at home in New Zealand. Apart from his own poetry collection, his work has been published in a few NZ magazines and anthologies. Read more at Printable Reality.
Siri Embla is a Norwegian-Kiwi dancer and artist. For more about her views on art and life, read an interview with Renee Liang here.  


Christopher Allen & Gill Hoffs // Munich, Germany & Ayr Beach, Scotland

Christopher Allen runs an expat interview series at his blog I Must Be Off. Here he interviews writer Gill Hoffs in Scotland who shares her notion of the eccentricities of “feeling Scottish” as well her new book Wild — and the importance of clean socks.

Ayr Beach, home of writer Gill Hoffs

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print, including Flash Fiction FridaysSTRIPPEDThe Best of Every Day Fiction 3, and forthcoming in The Best of SmokeLong Quarterly (2013). In 2011 Allen was a finalist at Glimmer Train and a Pushcart Prize nominee. He blogs at




Andrew Bell // Christchurch, NZ


Driving down Lichfield Street,
that modern automaton achievement,
total concentration supposedly on road awareness,
defensive driving
only, deep down, even cops would admit we’re
all over the place,
thinking about an apricot and chicken Panini
washed down with a
thought about the germination of a play
or was Roy (substitute any generic Euro/Pakeha name)
giving you the evil eye because you looked
at his missus just a little too long and lateral
or a million fuckin’ other insignificances

When Mother Nature got one shit-kicking
surprise for you, Jack (or Roy if you’d rather)

aaand She gonna whip your ass with some p-wave
or s-wave or whatever-wave
and suddenly I thought I’d blown a back tyre,
but She was having none of it,
raining down masonry like it was a lolly scramble

And I, a pseudo Southern Man,
transplanted to this city,
weep to see it go down, to go down
on Kai Tahu, Pakeha, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese
and so on, not the Whitebread city it used to be,
not Skinhead Central,
going down, twisting in agony over Bridle Path,
writhing in pain through London Street
and the Square, not hip, Daddy-O,
but the heart of old, white squattocracy
torn out and aa
 trampled underfoot.

We lost, we gained,
we waxed, we waned.
Ranginui ripped out our hearts
and Papatuanuku aa
 spat us out
like seeds from a watermelon.

Andrew M. Bell writes poetry, short fiction, plays, screenplays and non-fiction. His work has been published and broadcast in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Australia, England, Israel and USA. His most recent publications are Aotearoa Sunrise, a short story collection, and Clawed Rains, a poetry collection. Andrew lives in Christchurch and loves to surf. More of Andrew’s poetry can be found at Bigger Than Ben Hur. Or check out his website here.  

A Dialogue Between City & Country // Berlin & smalltown, Germany

A photographic dialogue between city and country with Marcus Speh (Berlin) and Dorothee Lang (southern rural Germany)…


Piet Nieuwland // Whangarei, NZ

Two views…

(from Town Basin, Whangarei)

35 43.43S
174 19.60E

On this viewpoint of land
island of blood

falls a corpus of light
and the pollen of stars

in the lunar calm of sleep
lies a white body of silence
the rain sleeping in the soil, the sand, the earth

in the penumbra of dawn
violins of fog and the curling mist of your hair
a line unravels from beyond a dream

your soul of vivaz
spills a volcano of flowers
roses of a million petals
burst with elliptic kisses

wing beats of embrace
fan your phosphorescent waist

from the catalytic fires of my bones
I kiss your hands with acrobatic glances

Your eyes of kohl undress the afternoon
in feverish rapids of flesh

delirious floating stanzas
blushing vermillion buds
with lips laughing threads of honey
in kaleidoscopes of golden hours
raining mosaics

opalescent amorata
of diamonds and lace
gorge viveza


(from the Coromandel)

Coromandel islands

Coromandel islands of the imagination

My heart aches on the headlands of youth

Sings on the trigonometries of those peaks,

And ridgelines plunging into coves,

The rhythms of bay, headland, cove, reef, bay, beach

Laughs at the space and distances

Classic scenes of identity,

Kauri, the scents of gum

Kanuka, the white cloaks of bees

The grazing sheep, alert and shorn

Pohutukawa foaming bubbles of reds,

Kowhai weeping with tui

The firth flat and low

Its breathing mud’s popping

Aromas of fresh caught snapper, gurnard, kahawai

The butter sizzling,

Liquid days of summer

Blues pouring from the sun into parabolic nights

Pancake moons in the vast altar of sky

The hard clay track, dusty

Piet Nieuwland  is of Dutch, English and Australian extraction. He lives in Whangarei, New Zealand, and is a member of the Take Flight poetry group. In 2010 he was one of the judges for the Northland National Poetry Day competition. He makes occasional appearances at Auckland’s Poetry Live events as well. His poetry has appeared in Takahē, Landfall and A Fine Line


Leanne Radojkovich // Auckland, NZ

Leanne Radojkovich brings flash fiction to life with new perspective on her YouTube channel. Here’s one of her stories, ‘The Missus’.

Leanne Radojkovich’s flash fiction appears in Turbine and several readings are on YouTube. Her short stories have featured in various places from Takahē to Radio New Zealand. She won the Lilian Ida Smith Award in 2009 and gained a Master of Creative Writing the following year (see her Slideshare presentation “Literary Benefits of Linguistic and Cultural Hybridity” for an overview). 

Marcus Speh // Berlin, Germany

Marcus Speh tells a 21st-century fairy tale from Berlin: equality and prosperity in equal parts in English and in German.

Living in the Plattenbau: A Post-Communist Fairy Tale

A certain Herr G. who lives in Berlin, Germany, in a building called a ‘Plattenbau‘ on Leipziger Straße, collects very short stories at random. He’s content, this Herr G., more or less, his moods are changing with the weather, which is a good thing really because the weather is mostly grim. More… 


Leben im Plattenbau

Ein gewisser Herr G, der in Berlin in einem Plattenbau auf der Leipziger Straße lebt, sammelt Kürzestgeschichten, ohne dabei methodisch vorzugehen. Er ist mehr oder weniger zufrieden, dieser Herr G, seine Stimmungen schwanken mit dem Wetter, was nicht übel ist, denn das Wetter ist meistensgrimmiger Laune. Mehr hier…

Marcus Speh is a German writer who lives in Berlin and writes in English. His short fiction collection Thank You For Your Sperm  will be published by MadHat Press later in 2012. He blogs incessantly at


Frances Mountier // Christchurch, NZ


Siobhan and Jilly came from a flat city where you had to lock your helmet to your handlebars, not down by the body of your bike, in case a dog came past and pissed on it.  They came from a city where the ‘forefathers’ left a massive green stretch in the CBD.  Where school kids in geography debated housing developments vs. keeping the uninterrupted skyline.  A city that got the country’s first casino in 1994 when Siobhan was three and Jilly five.  A city where you could go to the movies and TimeOut in the old railway station, and find in the car park out back a memorial to those who lost their lives at work.  A city of sad days and Sunday days, where they lay about on the couch and stared at the tree outside, rain dripping off its leaves.  They watched re-runs and videos they’d seen before.  Sometimes Jilly would make pumpkin soup or help Mum make pumpkin soup.  That huge pot dragged out from under the sink, the pumpkin from on top of the fridge.  The cursing that came with chopping a whole pumpkin with a blunt knife.  They come from a city where girls like them kept diaries where they recorded what they’d been doing, gold and silver and glitter pens circling tickets from movies they’d been to and little photos taken in booths.  A city with ten pin bowling and an ice skating rink and advertisements on the back of buses, ‘Mum wants me to meet an Ice boy,’ and a multitude of mini-golf courses.  A city of swamp music.

They grew up in a city which had had its fair share of protests and Communist Party branches, Labour Party branches.  The Alliance.  The Avon Loop.  They grew up in the city with its marriages and its funeral homes.  A back-to-front city with the rich suburbs under the flight path by the airport, the poor suburbs by Brighton beach.  They grew up dancing around the kitchen to their mum’s loud music.  They grew up in the country’s second largest city and they never went to Auckland.  They had storms and once a tornado, snow most winters.  School sports and pushbikes, passed down kid to kid to kid.  They had the customary newspaper run, the babysitting jobs, the waitressing work.  They grew up in a city knowing they had big brothers who might or might not still live there.  They grew up imagining a family tree that went horizontally not vertically, like the paper dolls their mum cut for them from folded paper.  Sam is the big brother of Jared, and they are the big brothers of Jilly and Siobhan, and they are the big sisters of Tommy and of Erin.  Maybe the boys had other half-siblings, too, who might have other half-siblings of their own.  They grew up in a city of hot summers, where they would lie stifling at night, reciting this family tree, damp facecloths on their foreheads, or sit on the floor in the heat during the day, their mum yelling at them to get a move on.

They grew up with a younger brother who didn’t talk much but who loved soccer.  They grew up and left him to play with Erin, the baby.  They grew up and started kissing boys, exactly two years apart.  They grew up in a city where grandparents, aunties, uncles, sisters bring up children, as anywhere.  They grew up in a city where the Council was the second largest land owner in the country, after the Government.  They grew up in those Council flats.  They grew up at Addington School, at the Selwyn Street shops.  They grew up on bikes or pushing Erin around in his pushchair.  They grew up until Siobhan had left town and Jilly walked in a blouse and tidy jeans to the bus stop every day for her job in admin.  They grew up until Siobhan was so determined not to regret her decision, even when she was homesick, that she’d say ‘I hate that place’ to anyone who asked.  ‘Bloody Christchurch,’ she said, until she had no doubts herself.  They grew up under the nor-west arch.  They grew up until Jilly realised she had no intention to leave, and found a boy who was the same.  They grew up in a city where people who said they were ‘from Christchurch’ meant it and likely had family there too.  They grew up until Jilly had a tiny baby of her own in that same pushchair, and Tommy was the one who went to Hagley Community College.

They grew apart from each other and from their mum, and instead grew close to others.  They grew apart until it felt like an age ago that they had come home from school and gone into their shared bedroom to do homework, or to the living room to play, while Mum cooked dinner and did evening things.  They grew apart until it even felt like an age ago that they didn’t come home and didn’t do homework.   They grew up in the city and then the city broke.

Frances Mountier grew up in Christchurch and now lives in Petone.  She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters (2009).  Frances has also studied writing at the Christchurch School for Young Writers and at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.  Her work has appeared in Turbine, SportTakahē, Renegade House, Hue & Cry, JAAMand Flash Frontier.  She is working on a novel about a Christchurch family.

Hinemoana Baker // Paraparaumu, NZ (but you just might catch her in Berlin, Germany)


Hinemoana Baker at around 4

before I am tempted to take
the advice of any hairdresser
I use the ends as a guide

four finger-widths from there
is where the scissors go
blunt as hell

notice how the blunt ended
tapers curl in the sink
into letters: C O S

my first haircut in a small envelope
stuck with yellowed tape
in the back of my Plunket Book

filament ends of a pinkish world
me growing up and out of myself
golden in the sun

right off the height and weight charts

Hinemoana Baker is a published poet, a singer-songwriter, recording artist and occasional broadcaster. Her first book of poetry, ‘mātuhi | needle, was co-published in New Zealand and the US in 2004. Actor, writer and artist Viggo Mortensen‘s publishing house Perceval Press co-published the book, which features the paintings of Ngāi Tahu artist Jenny Rendall.  Hinemoana’s first album, ‘puāwai’ (Jayrem Records, 2004) was a finalist for the NZ Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scrolls Māori Language award. Her second collection of poetry, ‘kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone’ (Victoria University Press), was launched in Wellington in 2010. She co-edited the anthology ‘Kaupapa: New Zealand Poets, World Issues’ in 2007, and has released four more CDs of music and poetry. Hinemoana was Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2009 and writer in residence with the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 2010. She has appeared at festivals and events in New Zealand and in Australia, Indonesia and the US. 

Andrew Bell // Christchurch, NZ

A second view…

Ghost Town

Picture Clint’s flinty-eyed stare
as he squints into the harsh sun
down an abandoned street.
Ears attuned for the chink-clink of the villain’s spurs
hear only the eerie moan of the nor’wester.

Silt swirling in small twisters is
flung like an insult into Clint’s eyes,
the grey, turgid liquid that spewed forth
now desiccated by the unforgiving Canterbury sun.
Cue tumbleweeds,
but the sole arrival is a family carload
seeking the solace of the state-sanctioned sea.
Dad winces as he drives through Dodge City,
and his suspension surrenders to another pothole.

Dusty venetian blinds are
closed like the eyes of the dead,
the blanched grass clutches at the windows,
and weeds suffocate once proud gardens,
fissures scar the lawn
with the earth’s vengeance.

Clint springs like a cougar at
a shadow in his peripheral vision,
but the villain is already out of range,
running carelessly towards a life full of promise.


Lesley Marshall // Maungatapere, NZ

Long Distance

The Skype call costs nothing – the amazement of modern technology.  Every time she phones me I think of those poor nineteenth-century mothers whose daughters travelled the other way – by sailing ship – and effectively vanished from their lives.  I’m so lucky, I remind myself.

“I miss you,” comes down the line in bubble-form, like an underwater whale-sob.  “It’s hard here.”

“We miss you too,” I say back, thinking, Come home, then, but not saying it.  This is her journey, not mine.

I try to bolster the failing resolve.  “Have you thought about going up to London to do a museum crawl?  Vanya might meet you for lunch.”

The underwater gloom lightens.  “Oh, yes, she likes museums – she might even come with me.”

“Yes,” I agree.  “Phone her.”

We talk more, and by the end of the phone call the graph line of her confidence is back up – before a final plummet at the moment before we hang up (Love you to the stars and back, we tell each other).

Afterwards I listen to the silence from the other side of the world.  Yes, the Skype calls don’t cost anything.

In dollars.

Lesley Marshall lives in Maungatapere and divides her time between teaching and editing, and answering needy phone calls from various children, both biological and surrogate.  It makes for a very interesting life.


Rae Roadley // Kaipara Harbour, NZ

Rae Roadley shares an excerpt from her novel Love at the End of the Road: Finding my heart in the country  with us for this blog carnival. This is from Chapter 31.

Looking up the Otamatea River from Batley on a sunny day.

That evening, as Rex prepares to set the flounder net at Fish Factory Bay, I stand by the water’s edge and gaze up at the house. The macrocarpa trees behind it have already darkened from deep green to shadowy black. We launch the dinghy then row down the river. The harbour is deserted, the light fading.

As we round the point the western sky glows hazy and golden pink as the sun slips over the horizon. When I look up the river, there’s no trace of sunlight and the sea is mid-navy under a matching sky.

Kaipara Harbour was named by a Maori chief who was served para – fern root – and liked it (kai means food), while Otamatea River got its name after a visiting chief, Tamatea Pokai Whenua, found himself surrounded by Ngati Whatua warriors. He sought help from his god Raiera who kindly morphed into a rock onto which Tamatea climbed. It floated to the middle of the river at which point, curious and no doubt deeply impressed, Ngati Whatua induced him to return. After enjoying their hospitality, Tamatea thanked them by leaving Raiera in the river as a bridge for his descendants to use. The river became known as O-Tamatea – Tamatea’s River. The name Otamatea was later used for the settlement until it was named Batley.

The net, with an anchor and float at each end, is piled in a bin at the dinghy’s stern. As it’s not too windy I row. Dad taught me in Bambino, the red, white and blue dinghy he built.

Rex says that when he was a kid, he was often oarsman in Aro while his father set the net. ‘He’d sit in the back telling me I wasn’t rowing fast enough or straight enough.’

Luckily for Rex, he doesn’t critique my effort. After he’s dropped the second anchor and float, we leave the boat at Fish Factory Bay so it’s nearby in the morning.

‘I set nets when the tides are right – high in the evening. I’ll clear it on the high tide tomorrow morning,’ he says as we amble back to the house.

Despite the absence of smart restaurants and funky bars, could this be my most unusual date in the most romantic setting? Quite probably, and yet I’m relaxed, at ease. The butterflies that would normally take flight if I sensed pressure for intimacy when I wasn’t ready – or, indeed, when I was – waggle their antennae but sit with their wings neatly folded.

Rae Roadley is an author, journalist, writing tutor and columnist whose memoir, Love at the End of the Road (Penguin 2011), tells of her life, with its highlights, heartbreaks and humour, after she fell in love with a farmer and swapped high heels for gumboots and life in an isolated historic villa on a Kaipara Harbour peninsula. You can visit her website/blog, meet her on Facebook or buy her book here at Fishpond




Pecha Kucha // Whangarei, NZ 

In the September 20 Pecha Kucha in Whangarei (City # 291), Michelle Elvy worked with Michael Rewi-Thorsen and Peter Larsen to bring together a collection of photographs and words from around the world on August 18. What you see below in this presentation — One Day: August 18 2012 Around the World — is a collection of poetic meanderings, wordplay, reflections, travel commentaries and frank observations from 20 different views. These views are organised sequentially from the first view of the day (7am, Greenwich, London) to a final view of the night (Sydney, Australia).

Participants in the August 18 One Day project, in order of appearance in the presentation, were Julian Reid (Greenwich, London), Christopher Allen (Italy), Tamara Roscoe (Western Australia), Robin Grotke (North Carolina), Ian-John Hutchinson (South Korea),  Abha Iyengar (New Delhi, India), Gus Simonovic (Norwegian Film Festival, Haugesund, Norway), Kulpreet Yadav (New Delhi, India), Vivian Prescott (Sitka, Alaska), Dušan Nešković (Serbia), Jaypee Belarmino (Gore, New Zealand), Rose Hunter (Chacala, Mexico), Hilary Derrick (Nepal), Dorothee Lang (smalltown Germany), Aaron Edwards (Viñales, Cuba), Walter Bjorkman (Rome, New York), Adam Newman (New Orleans), Kara Dodson (Ayers Rock, Australia), Axelle Faur (Amboise, France) and Kokkai Ng (Sydney, Australia). 


Helen Lowe // Christchurch, NZ

“John’s car”

Helen Lowe took us seriously when as asked for a ‘View From Here’. A multi-faceted writer, Helen took the theme and offered us several different slants. In her own words:  “The four perspectives were to be the view from: my study, from Christchurch, from New Zealand, and as expressed through my books. But when I began writing the view from Christchurch, it just took off and had a life of its own..” And so she begins with a view of Christchurch, and she addresses post-earthquake issues of health and safety, legal matters and environmental concerns. She then takes the micro-view of her own space, where you can view her view out her own window here. From there, Helen takes a look at New Zealand as a whole, and how Kiwis view themselves and the rest of the world; she includes a brief discussion of some Kiwi authors who resettled elsewhere, some who went and came back and some who’ve achieved international status. And for those of you who tend to lump EnZed and Oz together in one geographical soup just because we share the same sea between us, consider this:

“People from other parts of the globe are often surprised to learn, for example, that London is closer to Moscow than either Christchurch or Auckland, New Zealand’s two largest cities, are to Sydney, in Australia.” More here… 

Finally, Helen looks at what it means to be a New Zealand writer, by examining her own books and also considering what may or may not make New Zealand writing unique.

“New Zealand is also allegedly one of the world’s least corrupt societies: this suggests a concern around justice and fair play that may come through in our storytelling. Whether it does and whether it is distinctive or not—perhaps that is something only those outside of New Zealand, who read our literature, may judge.” More here…

Helen Lowe lives and writes in Christchurch. Her first novel Thornspell (Knopf NZ /Random House Children’s Books USA) won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2009 for Best Novel: Young Adult and was a Storylines Childrens’ Literature Trust Notable Book 2009. Her  most recent book The Heir of Night is the first in the 4-book The Wall of Night epic fantasy series and is published by Eos (HarperCollins USA), Orbit (Little, Brown) in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and Luitingh in The Netherlands. Forthcoming in France & Germany 2012. The Heir of Night won the 2012 Gemmell “Morningstar” Award for Best Fantasty Newcomer.  More about Helen and her books here


Karen Tribbe // Auckland, NZ

the writer in her teacup…

A Series of Observations

Cicada choirs deafen
my self-doubt.

Cockabullies keep
me company on the rocks.

Pukekos paint
me with their cheerful disposition.

Southern-cross stars signal
my centre.

Toi tois teach
me to stand tall.

Piwakawakas survive
by small steps and small strengths.

Pohutakawas prove
that obstacles can be overcome.

I listen to the lessons of this fault-lined land.
They are still and steadying
when I am shaky ground.

Karen Tribbe works in images and exhibitions at the Auckland Museum by day and dabbles in words and motherhood by night.


Vaughan Gunson // Whangarei, NZ

lovin’ the liquidambar next door, the red leaves
that fall down on us.
the railway track over the fence
aaaaaaaaawhich you can look down both ways
to a vanishing point.
the 4 damn churches. the toi toi in bloom,
with the morning sun shining through like a halo,
blessing us all.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaathe view of town
when you come over the top of King Street:
looking like the wild west. the Hikurangi Hotel
with its dark wood interior, pokie machines
& whale’s dick over the bar.
the Saturday night bands with their names in chalk.
the guy who wears overalls, who crosses the road
at the same place everyday with his two dogs,
who gruffly says hello.
the reggae that blasts from the house 3 up from ours.
the dairy, its cracked blue ceramic tiles
& corner relief of a bull’s head;
the Four Square that sells
ready-made vegetarian curries.
the miner’s cottages & villas; the eastern hills
with chopped down pine, gorse & scrub,
so that it’s not picturesque.
the crossroads 6.7km out of town
in the middle of the swamp, where you can stand
in silence.
the old stone path that gets covered in leaves,
broken glass, cigarette butts & tinnies.
the young scruffies outside the Ruraltec
talking about cars, girls & Xbox.
the primary school, the old classrooms in winter
when it’s raining & the heaters are on;
being 7 years old.
the dump & its growing piles
of usable junk, the cheap framed photos on the fence,
the bending of the rules.
the limestone rocks that tourists used to visit.
aaaaaaaaaaa     because there’s room to imagine
being somewhere else.
& our hill, the hill that Ngapuhi forgot.
Vaughan Gunson is a writer living in Hikurangi, Northland. His poems have been published in a number of publications in New Zealand. His new book of poetry this hill, all it’s about is lifting it to a higher level has just been released (Steele Roberts, 2012). More can be found here



Gus Simonovic // Auckland and… the world

two views… 

Where Shadows Meet

one more time
the sun is young
the shadows long,
as if carrying remnants of the night, from the other side of the sphere

moon still,
pastel-ed up in the sky. its invisible body effortlessly wears its visible part, like a hat
as it conducts another ocean morning-symphony of invading waves

a scattering of copper-coloured clouds,
floating on the surface of the sky, mirroring a few early sails on the Harbour

trees, tremble and flicker
with their leaves, like football players offering to exchange shirts after a match

one more time

early risers, denizens and citizens, are walking their best, elongated friends.
workers, quickly disappearing into buses, reducing their individual body contours
to a closely dispersed row of head-shapes, that stride across the curbs and bus stations

and of course,
a polluting bunch of hysterical 1000-kilos-of-steel
cleverly-designed to carry one or two bodies noisying around, chasing their silhouettes

city buildings,
somehow bigger, desiccated. as if crossing the highway
to bath in their park-grounds-skyline

throws its shadow accross the Harbour to quietly wake up Auckland,
one more time

the Big bridge arches,
like a spine
carries the weight of the city, as it hugs its profile in the water

ocean waves twirl by the beach, backward and forward ( where Chinese are dancing their tai-chi tango of shadows ), pirouette by the port on their blue and white tiptoes
( not to scare the big dinosaur-looking cranes ) as they sneak in, under the bridge, to embrace the city ( and take all our shadows away )

one more time


and another from Gus, inspired more locally… 
The Unusual Event – NZ Herald October 2011

What is the easiest way to get to know a town?
Let your senses find out
aaaaaahow the people in it live, work and have fun.
In our little big city
all three are usually done along the same lines,
with the same pragmatic, casual air.

The seasons barely change, and nothing else.
All that tells YOU that spring’s coming is
aaaaaathat rain gets warmer and sails unfurl out on the harbour.
During summer the pohutakawas
aaaaaapaint the blues and greens red.
Autumn and winter strip the town back to grey.

The truth is that the town is bored,
and we devote ourselves to cultivating our sections.
Our citizens work solely with the objective of getting bigger and getting smaller
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa(bigger house, smaller laptop – bigger car and smaller waistline).

And then The Unusual Event occurred.
What it is that makes us so settled one day
and then overnight
changes those shades of grey to full and joyful black?

Who am I to tell what actually happened?
Who am I to surmise?
They came and they play!
Around the Southern Cross it seems the stars are shooting,
the Pointers are partying with us in the Cloud.
We are so lucky to be here, painted faces,
hosting the world.

Now – conjure up a picture of a town with seagulls …
and ferns flying, pumas and wallabies prowling the beaches,
where you hear the beat of dragons’ wings and the rustle of maple leaves,

a thoroughly positive place for many Octobers to come.

Gus Simonovic has lived in other countries and spoken other languages. He has toured his spoken-word poetry and multi-media performance art in the UK and Europe as well as at home in New Zealand. Apart from his own poetry collection, his work has been published in a few NZ magazines and anthologies. Read more at Printable Reality.


A Dialogue Between City & Country // Vienna, Austria & North Island, New Zealand

Mother and daughter Cecelia Wyatt and Michelle Elvy share scenes  from city life in Vienna  (Cecelia) to coastal views of Aotearoa (Michelle).


Christopher Allen // Munich, Germany & beyond

Christopher Allen has just launched his new book, Conversations with S. Teri O’Type: A Satire, and along with the book came a rowdy, rambunctious blog tour. It’s a colourful jaunt around the globe with interviews, chapter excerpts and lessons in Greater Gayness. An excerpt from one of his interviews gives you a taste for what awaits:

CA: Well, I’d like to think the Conversations hold literary water. I’ve often toyed with banging the book into the genre of literary humor, but I’ve never researched enough to know whether “literary humor”  is even a genre. These lessons in Greater Gayness are indeed something else entirely, and Teri is someone else entirely as the old buddy he claims to be. I’ve tried to be subtle enough so that the reader doesn’t lose interest in Teri’s “efforts” to “help” Curt.

Satire is slippery. Is there anything more misunderstood? When I first started workshopping the Conversations, I got dozens of responses every day. I’d open one that said something like “OMG! I KNOW someone just like OMG! and I love him!” and then one that would say “How dare you make fun of gay men! Are YOU gay? I’m appalled!” And then I would make the “I’m appalled” gesture to myself—spread palm to clavicle per Teri’s example—and laugh. Neither one of these readers understood what I was doing. I’m going to be misunderstood. I know that. And that’s why I know it must be literary.

Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type. His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print, including Flash Fiction FridaysSTRIPPEDThe Best of Every Day Fiction 3, and forthcoming in The Best of SmokeLong Quarterly (2013). In 2011 Allen was a finalist at Glimmer Train and a Pushcart Prize nominee. He blogs at



Maureen Sudlow // Northland, NZ


Our son
cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth
serving hot drinks
from the Salvation Army truck.

On the steep Karamea road
a Brethren
and a Catholic Padre
shift an errant boulder.

Draping a train of fences
the bull charges.
My husband is yelling at me
to cut it off.

A nice cup of tea
by the decomposing possum
in the water tank.

I sit in the bath
as a slip
rumbles towards our cottage
visions of floating
into the Tasman.

In the middle of the night
a neighbour
clad only in short pyjamas
chases marauding dogs.

Remodelling the cottage
with a chain saw.

Marching from Granity
to Westport
the Hikoi of hope
mo te Tumanako
mo te Rawakore.

Maureen Sudlow is an associate member of The New Zealand Society of Authors (Northland) and writes mainly poetry and children’s picture books.  Her poetry has been published both on-line and in magazines such as A Fine Line.  She has a Diploma in Creative Writing from Whitireia, and was short-listed for this year’s Joy Cowley Award.


Dorothee Lang // Wernau, Germany

Dorothee Lang‘s window series originated with a challenge that  a traveller once posted in the Lonely Planet travel forum:

“Take a photo from the window of the room you are in.” 

Dorothee writes: “Many responded, some with stunning city skylines. Someone posted a simple image of a small garden, with some houses and trees beyond. ‘Nothing special, just the view from the window here,’ the traveller wrote. To which someone answered: ‘Those views are special — because they are ours.’

“I still remember that line:’because they are ours.’

“For me, it was the starting point of an ongoing photo series of sky photos from this window here. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the stream of media with all those stunning photos and spotless settings inhabited by perfect persons — and even though we technically know that a lot of the images and persons in TV and in magazines are set up and heavily photoshopped, they leave their traces. A while ago, I read an interview of a photographer who said that during his first longer journey he took lots of photos — and back home he realized he photographed it all in a way he was accustomed to, a way he had seen the places photographed before.

“Maybe that’s also where my fascination for online communities and blog carnivals like this one: each is a celebration of ‘just the view from here’.

“And to add another layer to the views:  maybe in the sky series, it is also about exploring how many images one place holds. And how rich life is, everyday.”

Here’s the link to Dorothee’s whole series: life as a journey of changing skies

Dorothee Lang, German editor of Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, is into roads, stories, places, crossings, and all the things they lead and connect to. For more about her, visit her at blueprint21


Michelle Elvy // Whangarei, NZ

Koru Kids by Rachel Weti

Daisy Chain (first published in Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction)

You see them crossing the street – Father and Mother bookending Boy and Girl in the middle, bundled tight in faux-fur jackets with pom-pom hats, Boy’s fringe poking out the front of his hat and Girl’s plaits flapping on her shoulders as she skips along, both swinging locked hands with each other in a rhythm all their own, while their other hands grip parents on either side. A daisy-chain of colour on a winter afternoon.

As they draw near, you see Father, dark-browed and thin-lipped, his irritation with Boy’s incessant chatter written across his face. He is tugging Boy’s hand hard with a hurried stride. Girl follows Boy who follows Father, and Mother is gripping Girl and looking away to the left, a vacant expression on her face which you can now tell has become habit, borne out of measured practice. Her weak smile is cold like the winter day.

You see this and more as they arrive on your side of the street. Toe touches kerb and you feel the break, Father disconnecting, pushing ahead. Boy and Girl holding each other but slowing to uncertain steps. Mother, halfway gone and feeling only a vague grip on Girl’s hand, her gaze elsewhere entirely. You fear that any second now she might let go completely.

They walk down the sidewalk away from you now, the daisy chain broken and the petals falling softly to the ground where they will wilt in the winter sun.

Michelle Elvy is a writer and editor living in Northland and the co-ordinator for Whangarei’s Pecha Kucha series. She can be found at Flash FrontierBlue Five Notebook and A Baker’s Dozen, and along with Dorothee Lang curates the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, celebrating Kiwi and German writers in anticipation of the 2012 Frankfurt Bookfair. A Pushcart nominee and a two-time Glass Woman Prize finalist, Michelle has published poetry, fiction and non-fiction in various print and online journals and is presently working on a collection of very short stories set in historical New Zealand.


We hope you have enjoyed this month’s Blog Carnival and the tour through so many different views. Thank you for reading and viewing and enjoying. Please feel free to share, tweet, connect via Facebook and comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

We are nearing the end of our Aotearoa Affair, as this project was organised to celebrate New Zealand and German writers leading up to  the Frankfurt Bookfair, where New Zealand is the Guest of Honour this year. Before we close up shop, however, we have a few more things in the works. Stay tuned at the Aotearoa Affair in October/November for more posts in our Highlight series and also a feature from the Fair itself.

Thank you to all our contributors. How interesting and also wonderful seeing the world through your eyes.

From the editors Michelle Elvy and Dorothee Lang

Carnival 4: “Flash Across Borders”

June 22 2012 marked New Zealand’s National Flash Fiction Day so we’re celebrating at Aotearoa Affair with our June/July edition of the Blog Carnival. Here we introduce many different stories — some tragic, some light, some earthy-real, some surreal. Some with whisky, some with fries on the side. Welcome to Flash Across Borders.

* * *

flash in the trees and in small stones

from Trish Nicholson, Runnin’ The River

How was it, buddy?” “Durn near the best prawns and chilli sauce I ever had, Vince.” “It was too, with all the right fixin’s an all. Plenty green ginger and not so much chilli that you couldn’t taste nuthin’ else – just like Ma made. She learnt me to cook. All the years workin’ in restaurants prawns was my specialty; never did tell the boss I dumped his recipes and used my Ma’s. Rest her soul.” Read the full story.

Trish Nicholson lives in the ‘winterless’ far north of New Zealand, and she shares her passion for writing, photography, travel, trees, and treehouses at her blog Words in the Treehouse.


from Raewyn Alexander, For all my Friends

“Long ago when ewill took bold and would not let no, people tall well all over the whirl took up pens, pencils, keyboards and dictaphones with larkness they knew of themselves, to power and push words forth. So fine flew light and transmogrified ink. ” Read the full story.

Raewyn Alexander lives in Auckland and is a novelist, poet, short story and non-fiction writer who was placed in the top five for the Landfall Essay Competition, 2011. Her latest book, A Bee Lover’s Poetry Companion, is published through Earl of Seacliff. You can find more of Raewyn at her Poetic Journey & Trees for Travel.


from Martin Porter, The Unraffle

“To the people of Tlön, the unraffle was the ultimate in egalitarian chance, perhaps something even greater. Today, Joan had chanced to win. She already held her winning ticket as she arrived in the village hall. The prize, a basket of her home-made produce was beautifully wrapped in her finest transparent cellophane, so everybody could see her baking, her preserves and her homecraft. Excitement was mounting as the other participants, her competitors, were arriving and taking their places in the hall. ” Read the full story.

Martin Porter is retired and living in Whangarei in New Zealand. He studied Astrophysics and Physics in the UK. The Unraffle is a fable about chance, entropy and God, written in 335 words. Martin hopes to recover from the shock of writing it shortly. Martin blogs short fictions at Small Stony Notes and Jottings.


Daphne Clair, Eosin (written for Northland 24-hr Flash Challenge)

He gave her an apple this time for her birthday surprise. A cheap gift, she thought. She’d wished for jewelry or perhaps something intimate in silk and lace. Instead, he’d plucked an apple from the enormous greenhouse he’d turned into a stronghold with alarms and a padlocked door. No sloth, she had to admit, he toiled there daily over his experiments — banana-flavoured pears, lemons sweet as honey, purple-fleshed oranges, that she found unnatural and slightly sinister, and now…

“I call it Eosin,” he said. ”For its colour. Try it, Peaches.” Even his nickname for her was a fruit.

The apple was an almost fluorescent red. She bit into crisp pink flesh and sugary juice exploded into her mouth, ran down her chin and soaked the ruffle on her favourite blouse.

She left him that day. Nothing could bridge the canyon-sized gap between them.

In years to come “Eosin Splendid” made him a fortune but she didn’t care. Ironically perhaps, she took a job picking fruit that tasted the way it always had, and ended up marrying the orchardist, who, although no millionaire, bought her rings and necklaces for Christmas, and frilly underwear for her birthdays.

Daphne Clair de Jong has published an abundance of romance novels writing as Daphne Clair for Mills & Boon and Laurey Bright for Harlequin Silhouette, marketed worldwide. She is known for the feminist edge she brings to the genre. Daphne also writes poetry, non-fiction, short stories and historical fiction . Her awards include New Zealand’s premier BNZ Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award. Her solo collection, Crossing the Bar, was published in 1998.


* * *

changing perspective

from Christopher Allen, Jamison’s Clarity
“Jamison blinked into the milky eyes of the mutt lying on the pavement next to him and tried to remember what people used to call him or where he’d once lived. Beyond the dog, his silvery skyscraper headboard mirrored a filthy, bedded-down and bearded geezer. Someone had draped him in a blue blanket—the kind one gets in aeroplanes, he thought. “Eureka, Topeka!” he shouted at his reflection, bleared brilliant by the a.m. sun. “I’ve been in an aeroplane!” Read the full story.

Christopher Allen (Guest Editor of last month’s Aotearoa Affair ‘Bi’ Blog Carnival) tells us: “Ten years ago as I was waiting for the tube in London, I found myself standing in front of an ad in which a very pale woman was holding a wine glass of urine. ‘Save yourself: Drink Urine’ was the message. And this is the crazy world Jamison has to redefine for himself.” A US-American, Christopher splits his time between Germany and the UK and knows quite a lot about writing across borders. His flash has appeared or is forthcoming at Referential Magazine, A-Minor and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. He’s a man of few words. He blogs at I Must Be Off.


Graeme Lay, Points of View

Aware that most of the students in the writing seminar would be Polynesian, James decided to buy a Pacific Island shirt, to help make them feel more at home with the fact that it was a Palagi teaching them. Bought from a K-Road shop, the shirt was dark blue, with green breadfruit leaf patterns. It was cool and comfortable.

He began to plan his talk, the key element of which was the importance of deciding on a story’s point of view – whether to write it in the first or the third person.

The seminar was held in the school library. The students were Year 12, the boys huge, bursting out of their grey shorts and shirts; the girls immaculate in white blouses and long green skirts. Their faces were dark and handsome. James handed out the sheet of notes, headed ‘Points of View in Short Story Writing’. Then he went over the notes, explaining carefully the differences between first and third person narrative techniques. To illustrate, he read them two short stories, Toothache, by Frank Sargeson, and A Game of Cards, by Witi Ihimaera.

The students listened very attentively. One in particular, a strikingly attractive girl in the front row, fixed him throughout with lustrous brown eyes, hanging on his every word, watching him more closely than any of the others. Obviously, James thought, a top student. And Tongan, he guessed.

He concluded his talk. ‘So, I hope I’ve made it clear that the decision to tell a story either in the first or the third person is a crucial one, when you’re writing.’ He paused. ‘Now, do you have any questions?’

Eyes bright, the hand of the beautiful girl in the front row shot up.

‘Yes?’ said James, gratified.

‘Where did you get your shirt?’ she asked, eagerly.

Graeme Lay writes fiction for adults and young adults. The author of four short story collections of his own, he has also compiled and edited eight anthologies of short fiction, including five volumes of the very popular short short story collections. His latest adult novel is Alice & Luigi, while his non-fiction includes three collections of travel writing and the historical work In Search of Paradise – Artists and Writers in the Colonial South Pacific (Random House), which has been selected for featuring at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair. He also works as an editor and manuscript assessor from his home in Devonport, Auckland, and most recently he served on the judging panel for New Zealand’s 2012 National Flash Fiction Day Competition.


from Kathryn Jenkins, Fireproof

“We laughed about the shirt his mother gave him, “treated with special flame retardants,” the label declared. Perhaps, we joked, if he wore it to work it would protect him from being fired. But it’d been a good year. Everyone was whispering about big bonuses, not redundancies.” Read the full story.

Once upon a time Kathryn Jenkins only dabbled in flash fiction but in 2012 she began writing with more frequency and now finds it difficult to stop. Her first flash fiction was 50 words long and written 15 years ago. It appeared in Brian Edwards’ Book of Incredibly Short Stories. Fireproof also began as a 50-word story.


* * *

dancing and dreaming

from James Claffey, cut blooms & dreams

“With purpose, relentlessly back and forth, the brush sweeps the grass cuttings from the flags, her hips sway: an afternoon garden dance. The pink rose by the door flushes an impatient hue, its energy sickle-scented mythic. In the sun she finds comfort in the wooden handle’s rotation, the narrow lines ribbed a thousand times, hands grooved to a familiar shape.” Read the full story.

James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He received his MFA from Louisiana State University, where he was awarded the Kent Gramm Prize for Non-Fiction. His story Rare Glimpse is the winner of The Linnet’s Wings Spring 2012 audio competition in prose. His work appears in many places including The New Orleans Review, Connotation Press, the Drum Literary Magazine, and Carte Blanche. He blogs at The Wrong Corner of the Sky.


from Dorothee Lang, Antelope Summer

“It was the summer of vuvuzelas. The ball rolled on and on, down there in the South of Africa, between all those countries of the world. Huge screens glowed in the night, green reflections of success and failure.” Read the full story.

Dorothee Lang is a freelancer, writer and traveller, and the founding editor of BluePrintReview, an experimental online literary and visual arts journal. She lives in the middle of Europe and always was fascinated by languages, roads and the world, themes that reflect in her own work and collaborative projects she is involved in – like the Aoteaora Affair Blog Fest, curated together with Michelle Elvy. Her new book “WOR(L)DS APART”, a true story about a friendship across cultures is upcoming this July at Folded Word. For more about her, visit her at blueprint21.


Sian Williams, Hôtel Montmartre (in Flash Frontier, June 2012)

At Charles de Gaulle they searched his bags – even the customs officer thought he looked furtive – while she felt dizzy in the toilets.

He held her shaky hand on the airport bus. She wished he wouldn’t – it seemed indecent, somehow pornographic.

Their room was on the fifth floor, an attic with a sharply sloping roof, and high dormer windows giving a tiptoe outlook onto air-conditioning units, TV aerials and plastic guttering. There were no distant views of Sacré Coeur.

Everything about the room was mean and cramped: the bed, the wardrobe, the bathroom-in-a-cupboard, even the basin. The room was too small to contain their love which sloshed about on the cheap carpet, trickling under the door and running down the stairs. In a rising tide it lapped at the bedroom walls until it overflowed through the window, upsetting the roosting pigeons and cascading down into the street below where it filled the gutters on either side of the road, washing away cigarette ends and cabbage leaves – and any remaining guilt they had about his wife back in Gateshead.

Afterwards they walked the narrow streets hand in hand. Everything seemed sharper, more clearly focussed than before, as though the world had been slightly off channel and was now tuned correctly.

Suddenly hungry, they went into a fromagerie. The shop assistant asked how much brie they wanted. “Like this?” she said, gesturing with her knife. “Or more?”

“More, please,” they said. “We want more.”

Sian Williams writes both fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. In 2011, her writing received the NZSA Northland Award, was short-listed for the Whakatane Library Short Story Competition, and was highly commended in the South Island Writers’ Association National Flash Fiction Competition. Her short story “The Kingdom of Air” was short-listed in the Fourth Quarter 2011 Flash 500 Competition and “A Charm for Warts” was short-listed for the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Competition 2012. Sian edits short short fiction every month at Flash Frontier.


from Michelle and Lola Elvy, Two Cups of Tea (originally published in Thunderclap!)

“Ruby loved dragons so much she talked to them during the day, dreamed of them at night, and learned to ride them like the wind. Hers was a world of scales and sky, feathers and fire. People said Ruby got her imagination from her mother Agatha, but Agatha knew better, for she was a novelist who had written nothing in a decade.” Read the full story.

Michelle Elvy is a writer and editor living in Northland. She can be found at Flash Frontier, Blue Five Notebook and A Baker’s Dozen, and along with Dorothee Lang curates the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, celebrating Kiwi and German writers in anticipation of the 2012 Frankfurt Bookfair. A Pushcart nominee, Michelle has widely published poetry, fiction and non-fiction and is presently working on a collection of very short stories set in historical New Zealand.

Lola Elvy is a reader and writer but not always of short fiction. She is presently reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell whilst daydreaming her way through the school holidays. She pays attention to small things, especially when writing poetry and bending paper into origami.

* * *

mystery and meaning

Marcus Speh, Contraption/ Im Irrenhaus

When you first enter a madhouse as an inmate, your learn to fear the sounds: dreams rumble and rattle across the corridors. Giant birds kept in tiny cupboards shriek senselessly. Even the silence is loud when your mind has faltered and turned against itself. But soon, these sounds become your new world. So much so that you fear to ever leave it: when you are picked up by your family for the weekend, anything will unnerve you—the bark of a dog, a whimpering of a child, the pure ringing of a bell. Even the rustle of a skirt over the leg of a woman will stir you and make you crazy. You’ll feel forced to interpret these sounds which seem regular to your kin and to prove to them that they in fact are the mad ones. All crazies are like that, except perhaps those who were born stone deaf. Their fantasies hold no sound: to them, people who speak just move their lips like animals licking the air with tied tongues. Anything that falls to the floor in their world falls like a feather, toneless, as if they lived on a planet without atmosphere, a muted asteroid. Only the deaf idiots can stand the clattering of coffee dishes and cake spoons on the family afternoon table. They smile upon the loony sizzling of the Sunday roast in the oven. When they’re overwhelmed they simply close their eyes.

German transl: Im Irrenhaus

“Ich stelle mir vor: das Bibbern der neu Eingelieferten, wenn sie zum ersten Mal die Geräusche des Irrenhauses wahrnehmen, Geräusche, die ihre ganze Welt bedeuten, so dass wenn sie als Freigänger ein Kind weinen hören oder das Bellen eines Hundes, das reine Läuten eines Glöckchens oder auch nur das Rascheln eines Rocks über einem Frauenbein, sie dort Wahn vermuten und den Tönen absonderliche Bedeutungen unterschieben müssen.”

Die ganze Geschichte / The whole story: hier

Marcus Speh is a German writer who lives in Berlin and writes in English. His short fiction has been published in elimae, kill author, PANK and elsewhere. First published in 2009 at Metazen, his work has been nominated for a Micro Award, two Pushcart Prizes, two Best of the Net awards and two Million Writers Awards, and was longlisted for the Paris Literary Prize. Known as a staunch supporter of penguin rights and maitre d’ of the legendary DADA venue Kaffe in Katmandu, he blogs in English at and in German, too, at MadHat Press will release Marcus’ collection of short fiction, Thank You For Your Sperm, later this year. Marcus was recently interviewed at Flash Frontier.


from Myra King, Dust to Water

“I stand near the old pier, looking out over Lake Wendouree. There has been enough rain to make a difference – the lake is filling slowly and soon it will cover Edith Delaney’s secret forever or for at least another lifetime. After all, the last time the lake dried up like this was in 1869 – fifty years before Edith was born.” Read the full story.

Myra King‘s walls are papered with her scribblings, some of which have got matching awards, but in neater script. She has a portfolio of rejections interrupted with acceptances from magazines far, far away (from Australia where she lives) with the unlikely names of Battered Suitcase and Meat for Tea. Among other print or e-journals and magazines, she has work in Up The Staircase Quarterly and Fast Forward Press, so she is moving upward and onward. Her novel Cyber Rules(Amazon Kindle) proves that some have husbands who are also psychopaths. All royalties from her book sales go to Medecins Sans Frontieres: Doctors Without Borders. She blogs at Getting Hitched.


Jac Jenkins, He Was He And I Was I (written for Northland 24-hr Flash Challenge)

He is a writer and a philosopher. I am a beauty therapist, offering cheap skin treatments to wannabe beauties. We reached for the same apple at the same time at the Bridge Café. That’s how it started — with a sharp intake of breath. Five weeks later we exhaled.

He said microdermabrasion would lead him to laugh; the word itself a tickle. I stared and said, “I don’t understand, I’m not ticklish.”

He spoke of metaphysics; the psychedelics of the Universe; the vividness of the unknown. I said, “There’s nothing beneath the underneath and space is simply spacious.” He said, “Space is not a vacuum, but a banquet.”

He read aloud what he wrote at night: thirteen hungry ghosts circling a howly moon in a dark sorrow-sky. I said, “I’ve never heard the moon howl.” He said, “It only happens when you sleep.”

I left as he slept.

Jac Jenkins lives rurally near Whangarei with a teenage daughter, two cats and five chickens. She currently works as a librarian, a thousand times removed from her initial career as a veterinarian. She has been writing poetry since she was a teenager and recently completed a poetry-writing course through NorthTec. She has been published at Flash Frontier and was recently highly commended for her story submission in the 2012 National Flash Fiction Day competition.


from Townsend Walker, Holding Tight(in Grey Sparrow Summer 2011 issue)

“I heard that shrieking whistle blow,
Mean, hard and screaming low,
Lying in my cold, cold bed,
Wrapped round my darling, my dear dead Fred

That’s the song she was singing when I walked into the Red Devil Lounge.Naked girl twisted around a dead guy; that’s what come to mind. Sent shivers through me. Not sure I even registered the rest of the song.

She was a new act. Doreen Hart. Dark brown hair, skin pale in the stage lights, slim girl, on her way to becoming a woman. Could kind of tell from the way she moved: like she wanted to be sexy, but ended up awkward. Nice voice, bit of huskiness to it.” Read the full story.

Townsend Walker lives in San Francisco. His stories have been published in over fifty literary journals and included in six anthologies. Two were nominated for the PEN/O.Henry Award. Four stories were performed at the New Short Fiction Series in Hollywood. His collection A Little Love, A Little Shove is forthcoming from Shelfstealers Press in early 2013. He blogs here.

* * *

observing small things

from Alex Pruteanu, Digits

“Joyce never worked for me.
none of it.
not Portrait not Dubliners, Ulysses,
nor Finnegan’s.
‘ve if you think about it.
based on labels: ɯsıuɹǝpoɯ

Read the full story.

Since emigrating to the United States from Romania in 1980, Alex Pruteanu has worked as a day laborer, a film projectionist, a music store clerk, a journalist/news writer, a TV Director, and a freelance writer. Currently he is an editor at NC State University. Alex has published fiction in PANK Magazine, Camroc Press Review, Specter Literary Magazine, Connotation Press, and others. He is author of novella Short Lean Cuts (Amazon Publishing) available as an e-book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in paperback at Amazon.


Frances Mountier, Hedgehog

One lunchtime at Christchurch South Intermediate, Siobhan found a baby hedgehog. It was small, littler than her balled fist, and it was next to the basketball court, not moving. The boys on the basketball court were cool and tall and wouldn’t give a shit about a baby hedgehog, might even stand on it intentionally. There was a big difference between standing on a bug, and standing on a little animal, with a furry underneath, and dark spikes that started white at the bottom, a little hedgehog that would be a lump under your foot. A little hedgehog that even now was poking its head out, its brown eyes big and scared. Siobhan pulled her maroon jersey sleeve over her hand and picked the hedgehog up. It was a bit prickly, but its spines went backwards and were small enough that she could do it without them breaking her skin. She carried him past the cool boys, round to her mates. Then she wasn’t so sure what to do. The boys in her crew said, ‘He’s sick, he needs to be killed. It’s the good thing to do. Kill him.’

‘Piss off,’ she said.

‘Don’t swear at me. Here, I’ll do it. It’s the humane thing to do.’

‘No it’s not,’ she said.

They went on like this, so much so that she would have gone to a teacher if she thought a teacher would have been able to do anything, if a teacher wouldn’t yell at her for having a hedgehog in her hand. She pulled down her other sleeve with her teeth so it was covering her right hand, and laid that over the hedgehog. She wasn’t in any teacher’s good books anyway.

‘Shut up,’ she said. The boys were crowding around her. She stood and walked towards the toilets, but they started to tease her. So she walked to the school gate – not the main one with the teacher, but the one behind the hall – and climbed over it. It was only up to her chest but as she did so, she dropped him. Her little hedgehog. She jumped over, landed. ‘What did you do now, dick?’ one of the boys said. She leant down to pick her hedgehog up but he wasn’t moving. She pulled down both her sleeves, picked him up gently. He felt different underneath than before. She walked away fast, didn’t look back, didn’t listen for any teachers yelling.

She got home and went in the back door, straight to the kitchen. She was crying by now. Mum was there, washing dishes at the bench. Her little brother Tommy was sitting at the table, drawing a large picture with green crayon. She’d forgotten he was home sick.

‘Siobhan, what’s wrong?’ Jewel said.

Siobhan held out the dead hedgehog.

‘Why have you got that dirty thing?’

Siobhan couldn’t really speak. Tommy was looking up at her, eyes wide.

‘What are you looking at, moron?’ Siobhan said. ‘I dropped him Mum.’

‘Accidents happen, love,’ Jewel said.

‘We can b-b-bury him,’ Tommy said.

And that’s what they did, in the back yard, near the walnut tree. Even though the soil was hard and they only had a small shovel, and spoons from the kitchen drawer. Tommy dug the most, until it was about a hand’s-height deep. Then they laid her little hedgehog in. They shovelled the dirt back on top, only Siobhan was crying again. Tommy ran around the front of the house then came and pushed something into her hand. A marigold. She went to lay it on top but Jewel was patting down the soil.

‘Stop!’ Siobhan said, pushing her away. ‘Don’t do that.’

‘Why not? That’s what you’re supposed to do.’

‘No, it’s not. It’s just not, okay Mum.’ Siobhan laid the flower on top of the wee mound of dirt.

Later, her big sister would come home and nark on Siobhan for being out of school. Then once she’d realised Mum already knew, she’d say it wasn’t fair that Siobhan and Tommy got the day off. When she heard about the hedgehog she’d go out to look at it and come back and ask Siobhan how it died. ‘What happened to it Siobhan? Did it see your ugly face and just die? Was it sick and manky like you? Did you kill it?’

But at the funeral, it was just Siobhan and her mum and her little brother, and a small grave with some dirt spread around it, two spoons, and the shovel. A marigold on top. A wee smudge of blood on the left-hand sleeve of her jersey.

Frances Mountier grew up in Christchurch and lives in Petone. Her short stories have appeared in Hue & Cry, Sport, Turbine, Renegade House and JAAM. She is working on a novel consisting of many ‘tellings’ about a Christchurch family.


from Sue Uden, Alternative Treatment

‘No ice! How can a restaurant on a beach have no ice?’ The finger is swelling fast, a huge blood blister appearing over the middle knuckle. Ginny’s screams have reduced to a hiccupping whimper; her blonde curls, clumped into perspiration soaked strands, stick to her flushed cheeks. Turning her back on the concerned, sun-wrinkled face of the woman in the bar, Leila runs back down the beach; the child scooped onto her hip.” Read the full story.

Sue Uden was born in Eastbourne, East Sussex and now lives in Chichester, West Sussex with her husband. On leaving school Sue entered the dubiously reputable institution, The University of Life, by marrying at age eighteen and having her first baby the following year. When her children were of school age, she embarked on a diverse ‘career’ encompassing a medley of different jobs. Since her retirement Sue has determined to devote more time to her passion for books and writing, and her first novel Dear Dee was published in March 2011. Sue blogs at WELCOME .. – A Writer’s Life!


* * *

unexpected paths

from Mike Crowl, Running and Waiting (first published at Flash Frontier, February 2012)

“The rhododendron, paler than white, leans in the heat towards the path which is sunk below the road. The glistening heat has melted the rhododendron petals off the branches; they settle as browning water lilies in the grass. But the grass doesn’t pour down towards the path because it isn’t water.

The path is a deep dip, so that a child can race with her dog down one side and make it up the other before running out of puff.

The child runs down the path, her knots of knees pumping past faster than the eye can grasp.

Read the full story.

Mike Crowl is a New Zealand writer whose fantasy musical, Grimhilda! (which he composed and co-wrote), was performed in Dunedin, NZ in late April-early May this year. He has been experimenting with more traditional poetic forms over the last year, though his poems tend to a tongue-in-cheek flavour. Flash fiction is a new form of writing for him, and he’s intrigued by the challenge of creating a story/world within very few words. He blogs at Mike of All Trades and several other places.


Andrew Stancek, In the Manger

The woman sits at the bar, twirls a swizzle-stick in a tall glass, shows a lot of leg.

I would kill for a cigarette but chew withdrawal gum instead. I breathe in desert heat, throat raw, think four hundred and thirty seven days. I’m sick of counting, of missing Darla. This raven-haired one is nothing like her but she might help stop the ticking. “Let’s go look at the stars,” I say, as I settle on a stool next to her.

“It’s three in the afternoon,” she rolls her eyes, looks over at the bartender. “And it’s raining.”

I shrug. “Maybe we can find some in my room.”

By the time Darla left me, we were all snarl and bite with each other. A miscarriage and then a stillborn destroyed whatever we once had. She was right to go, I knew, but that did not stop our slow dying.

Raven looks as if she might like bite, has looked death in the face. I ask the bartender for a bottle of Jameson’s to take with me. Raven says, “Just one?” and I get another. Our screams in the motel room are louder than the voices in my head and the bottles are empty before I fall asleep. We don’t bother to look for stars.

I wake up convinced I hear Darla mumbling. I reach for her. The bed is empty. The light coming through the blinds hurts my eyes but it’s not DTs. Chainsaws are having a convention behind my eyelids but what I see is a burbling baby in a bassinet, no Darla and no Raven.

I don’t do authorities.

I check a Jameson’s bottle for a little cheer but no such luck. The baby coos, kicks its legs, craps. My mysterious benefactor provided a package of disposables and a baby bottle with the insides still warm, two pink outfits, a rattle and three soothers. My fingers shake but I manage to change her. Her outfit’s warm. I feed her, burp her, watch her fall asleep. The blanket has an embroidered “D”.

Normally I have a hard time thinking as far as scrambled eggs in the morning but the baby gives me an adrenaline rush. When the woman in the motel office asks, “Everything fine, no problems, sir?” I don’t say, “Did you put a baby in my room during the night or see who did?”

My truck is the only vehicle in the parking lot. I strap the bassinet into the seat next to me, look into the morning sky. A bright star is on the horizon. I rev the motor and head towards it.

Andrew Stancek was born in Bratislava and saw Russian tanks occupying his homeland. His dreams of circuses and ice cream, flying and lion-taming, miracle and romance have appeared recently in Tin House online, The Linnet’s Wings, Connotation Press, THIS Literary Magazine, Flash Fiction Chronicles, Thunderclap Magazine, Istanbul Literary Review and Pure Slush.


from Rachel Fenton, What Little Town

When we’re secure.’ The knot’s too tight.

A bright red double decker hisses, honks to a stop. The top’s missing, full of tourists. Here is the church, here the steeple. Look inside. Hunter stops tugging at his tie, gives me his dog carried from the battlefield look. ‘We’ve only been here a month, another, few, we’ll be set.’ He pulls the curtain.

‘I’m late.’

‘Me too. Don’t make dinner.’ The door doesn’t bang.”

Read the full story.

Born in Yorkshire, currently in Auckland, Rachel Fenton has work in Horizon Review, Otoliths, Blackmail Press, Brief, Monkey Bicycle , Flash Frontier and others. Shortlisted for the “Fish One Page Prize,” “Binnacle Ultra Short Competition”, and longlisted for the “Sean O’ Faolain International Short Story Prize” and “Kathleen Grattan Award,” she won the 2012 “AUT Creative Writing Prize” for her graphic story Alchemy Hour. She was Guest Editor for The Aotearoa Affair “Past Myths, Present Legends” Blog Carnival. As Rae Joyce, she writes an epic graphic poem about stuttering and migration, Escape Behaviours. She blogs at Snow Like Thought.


Bernard Heise, The Potato Head Principle

Revlon’s development of the Mr. Potato Head principle for human applications had revolutionized the beauty industry, and kits were now available from a number of manufacturers. They could be bought cheaply at Costco and Sam’s Club, but you had to be wary of ones that were made in Pakistan and the Szechwan province of China, for they reportedly caused gangrene. In the mornings, Jerry would shuffle down the stairs and take his place in the greasy diner below his apartment run by the Polish lady. And carrying his breakfast, she would greet him with a different face each time – one day with eyes that were big, round and accentuated by heavy lashes, the next with glistening star-shaped pupils and no irises at all. Her nose might be flat and broad or long and thin, and sometimes it would dangle. Some mornings her ears would be pinned flat to her head, but other times she would accessorize with auricles that fanned the air. “Do you fancy me today?” she’d ask him with a smile, sometimes toothy, sometimes not. “It’s not quite right,” he’d inevitably respond, though her look quite often turned him on. They’d laugh, their flirting done with for the day. And he would polish off his eggs, sausages and toast, read the comics in the Vancouver Sun, and leave a fistful of dollars on the table. Then he’d shuffle off to work at the pickle factory, wondering whether he would recognize any of his friends.

Bernard Heise lives with his family on a sailboat in New Zealand. On occasion he finds the time to write some short fiction and take a few photos. His photography has been featured at Blue Five Notebook and more about him can be found here. This story first appeared at 52|250.


from Kay McKenzie Cooke,The Bell of Lough Lene “Theway it entered the water would’ve been like a stone hurled high, dropping straight down, thunk, like a cut through the water’s skin. I picture trees. Probably different from our trees here in New Zealand. I imagine the darkness as the bell fell. I imagine fog all over the island and swirling around the lough. A lough is what we would call a lake.

The small bell lay there at the bottom of the lough for hundreds and hundreds of years until discovered by a boy, about my age, fishing for eels.”
Read the full story.

Kay McKenzie Cooke hails from Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. She has had two books of poetry published by Otago University Press, Feeding The Dogs (which won the Jessie McKay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2003 NZ Book Awards) and Made for Weather. She is working on her third book of poetry titled Born to a Red-headed Woman. She is also writing prose that although fictional, is imbued with the voices of her ancestors from Southland (and beyond).

* * *

boys & toys

from Tim Jones, A Short History of the 20th Century, With Fries (published in Flashquake, Fall 2004)

By the time they got to the Finland Station, Lenin and his posse were famished.

‘What’ll it be boss, Burger King or McDonald’s?’ asked Zinoviev.

Lenin rustled up the kopeks for a quarter-pounder and fries all round and they set to chowing down. By the time he finished, Lenin had had a better idea.

‘I’m tired of this revolution business,’ he said. ‘Let’s set up a chain of family restaurants instead.’ Read the full story.

Tim Jones is a poet and author of both science fiction and literary fiction who was awarded the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2010. He lives in Wellington. His third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained, was published in late 2011. His story “The New Neighbours” is included in The Apex Book of World SF 2 (2012). Tim says that “A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, with Fries” was written under the twin influences of Kim Stanley Robinson’s much grander story “A History of the Twentieth Century, with Illustrations,” and the realisation that it was finally time he did something with that BA in Russian. Tim blogs at Books in the Trees.


Alex Bernstein, Toys

When I was a kid, I borrowed my dad’s b-b gun and took it in the back yard and shot out our living room window. Actually, it wasn’t a window – it was one of those full length pane glass doors. I told him it was an accident – that it was a ricochet. But I’m pretty sure I just did it to see what would happen. I think I was expecting some cool movie effect where the glass would completely shatter. But it just put a tiny pinprick hole in it. Still, the entire sliding door had to be replaced. Later, I realized that the door had a thin plastic coating on it to protect it from rotten, idiot kids with b-b guns.

My dad was kind of into fake guns. He had the b-b gun and an incredibly realistic fake cap gun in the top drawer of his office at home. My mom hated it. But I used to play with it a lot. Much later, I discovered that, hidden in the back of his closet was an actual 45 revolver. I had to dig pretty far back for that one. It was harsh and metallic and well-oiled and you could tell it had never been used. I liked the realistic cap gun better and I thought it would make much more of an impression on burglars. POW!

In college, my friend Bruce and I found some very realistic World War II-era Lugers that fired caps in Chinatown. That Christmas, Bruce gave me a lift to the airport, and without telling me, shoved one of the Lugers into my backpack. The backpack went through the x-ray machine and I remember, clearly, seeing the x-ray of a Luger. But the attendant smiled and handed me my bag, and I got on the plane and went home. Did she see the gun? Did she not care?

Airport security was lighter in those days.

Alex Bernstein is a freelance writer in New Jersey. His work has appeared at Corvus, BluePrintReview, Hobo Pancakes, Gi60, The Rumpus, The Legendary, The Big Jewel, MonkeyBicycle, Yankee Pot Roast, Swink, and PopImage, among others. He blogs at Prom on Mars.


from Jim Harrington, Do Unto Buzz

“I parked an outhouse in Buzz’s front yard late last night and blew it up. I suppose I should feel bad, but I don’t. In fact, I think I strained something trying not to laugh out loud as I watched the contents of the crapper spatter all over the front of Buzz’s house. Buzz’ll know who did it. He ain’t that dense. We been pulling stunts on each other since high school. Martha, that’s my wife, says I need to grow up. ” Read the full story.

Jim Harrington began writing fiction in 2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. He serves as Fiction Editor for Apollo’s Lyre and Flash Markets Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Jim’s Six Questions For . . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at his blog, Jim’s Fiction.

* * *

vielen dank/ thank you

We hope you’ve enjoyed this flash edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival. We sure have. From dystopian Tlön to Bolshevik fries, from the bite of an apple to the lingering taste of whisky, from Polynesian shirts to rhododendron sidewalks, from love spilling out to dreams filling the room — the stories collected here demonstrate both the breadth and depth of flash fiction. We thank our contributors very much indeed for sharing their stories.


This collection comes at the end of a jam-packed month of flash in Aotearoa and elsewhere. Other places that made June a flash month are here: 2012 New Zealand National Flash Fiction Competition // 24-hour Northland Flash Challenge // Catalyst 24-hr Flash in the Pan, winners announced July 3 // Blue Five Notebook Flash Special, June 2012 // Flash Frontier June 2012 issue: hold my hand // Tuesday Poem Flash Week June 19 // UK National Flash Fiction Day Group Write-In


The next Blog Carnival will be in August/September and will feature the theme A View From Here — Regional Perspectives. Please see our How To Join page if you are interested or send email to nzgermany2012[at]gmail[dot]com.

Bi — An Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival

I would like to start this carnival with a thank-you.  I’ve been entertained, informed and moved by the breadth of talent gathered here from all over the globe to celebrate New Zealand and its status as guest of honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The artists below are mainly from New Zealand and Germany, but there are also contributors from Argentina, Greece, Israel, Italy, the US and Great Britain. I hope you’ll come back often over the next few weeks to read, listen to and watch these brilliant contributions.

The theme for May is “Bi” — all things Bi — and who better to start us off than Wellington-based poet and singer-songwriter Hinemoana Baker with a film by Angela Boyd, Secret Love – Hinemoana Baker, and the song “Free” below.

Hinemoana Baker

In Baker’s own words: “I have always strongly identified as a bisexual, bilingual, bicultural person — out and proud! Nowadays I think I prefer the more inclusive, less ‘one-or-the-other’ terms like takatāapui and mixed-race. I don’t often write to a theme, or to get across a particular message. But I guess I just got tired of being told my choice of partners was just a phase, and eventually I’d make up my mind. ‘Free’ is a track from my first album ‘puāwai’.” Baker’s song “Free” has been described as a “Bi-Anthem” so it’s going to be ours today. FREE

Darcy Nicholas

James Nicholas discusses how Maori art and culture have changed over time in his bilingual presentation (English and Japanese) “Maori, the Culture and Art of my Land.” This presentation was first shown in Tokyo in the Pecha Kucha series.

Nicholas — whose father Darcy Nicholas is “a leading contemporary Maori painter sculptor writer, curator, events manager, and commentator on Maori issues” — hails from Wellington New Zealand and is half Maori, half Scottish. Enjoy this enlightening presentation on the culture of his land and contemporary Maori art.

In “Books that Burn Turn into Torches” Berliner and former resident of Aotearoa Marcus Speh Birkenkrahe is bisected: “As an avid reader and writer I still remain split right through the mid­dle regard­ing the ebook or print book ques­tion (the “or” is, I think, gen­er­ally over­rated): I carry both paper and portable. Some­times I wake up in the morn­ing with the taste of a printed page in my mouth…”

Tim Jones is a poet, author and editor from Aotearoa. His most recent work is the poetry collection Men Briefly Explained (IP, 2011). He is currently working on a short story collection. For his contribution to the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, he shares two interviews — one in English on his own blog and one in Spanish on Argentine writer Elena Bossi’s. Jones and Elena Bossi, have both had stories included in the recent anthology Slightly Peculiar Love Stories (Rosa Mira Books).

Lori Fischer is an American screenwriter, playwright and actor based in New York City. She also teaches the course “Writing Great Characters” at NYU. Here she fleshes out the bilateral aspects of love in Retreat, a ten-minute short featured at NYC’s Ripfest.

Dorothee Lang‘s “The things that remain” explores the similarity of words in English and German with a visual, poetic approach. Lang, who lives in Germany, is the co-creator of this blog carnival together with Michelle Elvy, a US-American living in New Zealand.

Michelle Elvy and Walter Bjorkman bring to us the collaborative poems “Summer/Winter”(originally published in BluePrint Review issue #27, 2011), each based on a photograph taken by the other poet in another country, in another season. Elvy posted the collab at her blog Glow Worm and Bjorkman did the same at his own Quik-Bake Synthetics.

The Berlin Project is a joint venture between Italian poet Federico Federici and British poet David Nettleingham. It has been inspired by a second-hand guidebook published a few years before the wall fell. Picking up documents, recording audio/video samples, Federici and Nettleingham excavate the bedrock of this new Babel uncovering the unforgiven Stadtgeist beneath.

When I first came across this project, I thought it would be about a city bisected between east and west — and of course it is — but The Berlin Project is also about a city bisected by past and present.

Raewyn Alexander‘s work includes novels (Penguin), non-fiction (David Ling), poetry (AUP and Earl of Seacliff), also a recent chapbook and CD (poetry and music). Her writing has been published in NZ, Australia and the USA. Radio NZ broadcasts her stories and she was in the top five of the prestigious Landfall Essay Competition. Here, Alexander stands with one foot on American soil while she plants a tree in the soil of New Zealand. To pull up roots or to plant them. Or to do both? In this poignant blog post, Raewyn Alexander is bi-cultural.

Aidan-Barrett Howard is a gay (but occasionally bisexual) poet who has been writing since the age of 13 (about 40 years). He suffers from intense depression and uses his writing as a way of taking the rough edges off his emotional troughs. In his own words: “I try to let my poetry tell a story, rather than just take a snapshot of a single moment.” In “Two Loves” Howard tells a story of the bisexual experience.

Helen Lowe — novelist, poet, interviewer and lover of story — examines the relation between reality and imagination in “Out of Middle Earth: Reality and Imagination–New Zealand’s Landscape Influence on the Wall of Night World.” Lowe’s The Heir of Night has been shortlisted for the Gemmell “Morningstar” Award as Best Fantasy Newcomer. Lowe lives in Christchurch, NZ.

Born in Athens, Greece, Stella Pierides-Müller now divides her time between Augsburg, Germany and London, England. In her head, she lives somewhere on the Aegean coast. She writes poetry and prose because she has to. Today, she brings us two haikus — in English and in German.

Writer, photographer and anthropologist Trish Nicholson lives in the Far North of New Zealand and is currently writing exotic travelogue for Collca’s ebook series, BiteSize Travel. When she’s not blogging, tweeting or otherwise wearing out the keyboard, you’ll find her in her tree house, day-dreaming. In “How I Survived Inside a Crocodile” Nicholson challenges the bipolar notions of fiction and non-fiction, drawing insights from the words and forms — the art and functionality — of Antoni Gaudí.

Rae Roadley is an author, journalist, writing tutor and columnist whose memoir, Love at the End of the Road (Penguin 2011), tells of her life after she fell in love with a farmer and swapped high heels for gumboots and life in an historic house on a Kaipara Harbour peninsula. Here Roadley shares a humorous anecdote in which we have to ask the question, does someone need new bifocals?

Foster Trecost started writing in Italy and he still writes, but now from Philadelphia. Sometimes he works paying jobs that involve corporate taxes. When he’s not doing that, he usually goes back to Europe. In this flash fiction, he takes us back to a character’s childhood memories of a bicycle.

Gill Hoffs, a writer from Scotland and editor at Spilling Ink Review, offers a tale of bisexual experimentation gone wrong. An inventive story about competition, “Hand to Mouth” appears in the latest edition of Literary Orphans.  Hoffs new short story collection is Wild.

I’ve saved my own contribution for last so that I can wrap this blog carnival up with a few words of thanks. I’ve had a bi-last reading these contributions and becoming better acquainted with these talented people from all corners of the earth — and Middle Earth. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Recently at my blog, I Must Be Off!, I had the opportunity of interviewing author Tania Hershman about her life as an expat in Israel and her feelings about that time now that she has returned to England. Bilingual, bi-cultural and in a sense now bi-national, Hershman delights with generous replies to my questions. Her new collection of short stories, My Mother was an Upright Piano, is now available. And to you, dear reader: thank you so much for stopping by (or bi I suppose). If you’ve enjoyed these posts, let the authors know. I hope you’re planning to be at the Frankfurter Buchmesse where New Zealand is the guest of honour. It’s October 10-14.

I must be off,


Next call for submissions

June is FLASH FICTION MONTH in New Zealand, so we are gearing up at Aotearoa Affair for National Flash Fiction Day on 22 June by collecting flash stories — published or new — to post in the June edition of the Blog Carnival. Send your stories our way by 15 June for a Flash Across Borders issue, open to anyone anywhere – guidelines.

For more about National Flash Fiction Day in New Zealand, visit the website. For more about the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest and this ongoing relationship between New Zealand and Germany, visit our website.


When I agreed to guest edit the second edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival I had no outline other than the theme of Past Myths, Present Legends, although I was sure I wanted my edition to be as much a visual fe[a]st as it was a blog fest. This is my chance to share my perspective.

I see the world in pictures. Stills. When I read, I see pictures. When I write, I translate the picture into text to give a sense of its having motion; a series of photographs, snapshots, real or imagined, become narrative; history merges with fiction to create, if not myth, something incredibly close to it (and extremely near). Indeed, this edition might easily have been titled History Games.

Maori have a phrase “i mua” which simply put means “the past is in the future”, it’s a concept Ngapine Allen explains in her essay “Maori Vision and the Imperialist Gaze”. Allen writes: “The Maori reality is that what you can see is in front of you. Hence, ancestors, viewed from a Western Historical perspective as ‘behind’, are, from a Maori perspective, ‘in front’. Conversely, the future is something you cannot see and is therefore behind you. To conceptualise this, you must reverse your notion of history.” (Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum. Ed. Barringer & Flynn, Routledge, 1998. P. 144)

In Past Myths, Present Legends, writers and artists collude to bring you the visual word from Germany, through time and place, to New Zealand, all connected in tangential, elliptic, and surprising ways; a round table of ideas. Pull up a seat, feast your eyes and satiate your minds.
Rachel J Fenton


Past Myth; Present Legend

Present “Legend Award” nominee, poet and novelist Helen Lowe is first guest at the table where she writes about “Maori myths and legends in contemporary New Zealand SFF” and points out “a few recent favourites”, including Karen Healey’s mythical interweavings in her 2010 novel, Guardian of the Dead, where she combines traditional Maori elements with Greek myth.

Lowe does a great job of highlighting New Zealand authors who have made waves with their Maori myth inspired tales.

Picture credit inc copyright, Chris Slane

The legendary actions of one Maori woman provided inspiration for cartoonist and graphic novelist Chris Slane who, with historical research and vision, gives his graphic account of Kahe Te Rauoterangi, a figure of less obvious though no less impressive legend than Maui in Slane’s graphic novel, Maui: Legends of the Outcast. Kahe Te Rauoterangi swam approximately 11 kilometres from Kapiti Island to the mainland, with her daughter strapped to her back, to warn allies of a threatened attack. Although she survived the crossing, her daughter died shortly afterwards evoking imagery of the folk song ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ for European readers and landing Kahe a place in New Zealand folklore.


Myths Past; Future Progressive

Reincarnation is the name of the game for award winning Auckland graphic novelist and Bro’ Town creator Ant Sang in his fusion work and what HarperCollins describes asa masterful interweaving of kung-fu myths and legends”: Shaolin Burning is “Old China like you’ve never seen before. When the Shaolin Temple is destroyed by the Emperor’s army, only five monks manage to escape alive. Or so the legend goes.



Excalibur. Reading the Maps.

The legend of the mighty sword of Tintagel born legend, King Arthur, goes somewhat awry in popular culture but proves inspirational for a host of speakers, from cricketers to politicians. Writer and researcher Scott Hamilton is Reading the Maps where he writes about those who verbally wield Excalibur, focusing on “the many local incarnations of the Excalibur myth”.


History Games

Not everybody is kung-fu fighting, however, even if they are cricket mad. Where legend goes, narrative is sure to follow, over sea, from North to South, crossing hemispheres, over time.

Arguably Grimsby’s finest export, Wellington based writer of poetry, short fiction and novels Tim Jones brings three very different offerings to the mythic table, “Fallen”, with German translation, from Books in the Trees, taken from Tim’s poetry collection Boat People:

Ithaca Island Bay Leaves

“They grew, these Southland towns, on the graves

of the children of Tane.”

But from Maori creation myth and mankind’s search for knowledge Tim transports us to the realm of another poet, New Zealand-Cretan Vana Manasiadis, whose debut poetry collection, Ithaca Island Bay Leaves, marries Greek myth and New Zealand, Island Bay, history.

May Pole Daisies. Photo Credit Rainbow Notebook

May Pole Daisies. Rainbow Notebook.

Down the coast from Tim’s elbow is Christchurch fusion writer to watch Andrea Quinlan, writing in the pages of her Rainbow Notebook “about May Queen rituals in history, film and fashion”, the inspiration for two of her poems appearing in her forthcoming chapbook, We Speak Girl, published later this year by Dancing Girl Press. Also published in brief, Gaga Stigmata and Delirious Hem, Andrea writes “how past myths and legends can be changed and updated in the present in creative work to both celebrate and critique history.”

Quarry Floor, Wellington. Photo credit Tim Jones

Quarry Floor and sometime set of The Lord of the Rings, Wellington. Tim Jones.

Myth and history, or mythistorima, are features of Tim Jones’ final post for us, given a humorous twist in Fifty Yards From Middle Earth which Tim describes as: “a flashback to 2000, when hobbits, elves, dwarves and legendary kings walked the earth – more particularly, they walked the forests of Mt Victoria and popped in to watch the cricket at the Basin Reserve during the filming of The Lord of the Rings.


Middle Earth to Earth’s End

Adrian Kinnaird has been involved in the New Zealand comics community as a cartoonist, writer and blogger for the last 15 years. He’s also worked as a freelance illustrator for Macmillan Education, Weldon Owen and Scholastic US. In 2009 he founded From Earth’s End, the first blog dedicated to New Zealand comics and popular culture. Updated weekly, it features comics news, issues and events, as well as interviews with cartoonists both local and international. The blog was voted ‘Best Comics Related Website’ at the Black River Digital Eric Awards in 2010, and it’s where you can find him interviewing comic and graphic novel writers, including Ant Sang and Chris Slane, at this flashback to the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.


Future Perfect

te-aoindiginz Grace photography

Himiona Grace.

From flashback to flash forward, cinematography is the key for New Zealand photographer, filmmaker and screen writer Himiona Grace, soon to begin filming The Pa Boys. This feature is set to follow Danny, Cityboy and Tau who “form a three-piece reggae band called The Pa Boys. With girlfriends Jo and Puti they set off on a tour of small town New Zealand with the aim of reaching Cape Reigna, the northern most tip of the country. The Pa Boys is a story of journeys. The physical journey as The Pa Boys tour and the journey that Danny and later Tau take to Te Reinga, the gateway to the spiritual realm of Maori. It is a story that explores the strength of friendship, the importance of whanau, whakapapa and history. It is a story of the search for identity and how it is possible to live in two worlds, Maori and Pakeha” (Paepae). Grace also writes on his Indiginz blog of Tane’s role in creating life between Rangi and Papa, Sky Father and Mother Earth, beautifully illustrated with his photographs of Rotorua scenery.

Tomppa is a German freelance artist who lives near Berlin and specializes in comics: “I invent and market characters and stories, such as the German superhero ‘Der Engel’ (‘The Angel’) or the award winning character ‘The Counselor'”, written for The Stan Lee Foundation. Tomppa says “the Foundation stands for bringing education to all people in need! No matter what ethnic race or social level, developing people by educating them.”

The Counselor. Tomppa.

He also talks about the design brief for the competition: “the winning design is supposed to be an action figure or statue, so I thought it should be a character the Foundation wants to be connected with; a character that symbolizes their goals.” Tomppa follows with a note on consideration for “The Counselor’s” audience. “Take another look on the Foundation Website. Look at the photos there. People, mostly children, with books. Comic books and others. So my next thought was it should also be a character children can connect with, so no fierce costume or huge armour. No special superpower to hurt or kill anyone. Knowledge is power!” (Tomppa)

In his blog, Tomppa reflects on the themes his work is about: “Past myths, present legends, and what about fairytales?

“Calvinist morality and patriarchy” are revealed to be the underpinnings of fairy tales, fables and legends in short story writer, travelogue author and anthropologist, Trish Nicholson’s essay “How the Brothers Grimm Came to Write Fairy Tales“, which leads the reader from the German village of Hanau to happy ever after.

A Fairy Tale. Arthur Wardle.

The brothers’ takes on folk stories “were intended to educate as well as to entertain,” just as Nicholson does.


World Games

Another writer who seeks to entertain is Martin Porter, a poet also familiar with two worlds, or at least two St Heliers (or should that be three?). Born and brought up in St Helier, Jersey, he spent six months in St Heliers, Auckland before moving to the winterless North of New Zealand and settling in Whangarei. Of his poem “St Helier Migrates after his Martyrdom”, Martin says, “I migrated St Helier in time, maintaining the original myth of him being beheaded by Saxon invaders only to pick up his head and walk away before transporting him forward to the 19th century and New Zealand, then on to present migrations. In some ways the myth has become real, with migrants cutting themselves off at their historic roots. The poem has irony – the saint becomes the invader”. You can read Martin’s Poetry Notes and Jottings and decide for yourself.

Fire Sale. Tulloch

Virtually Comics. Skreem, Tulloch.

From beheading to bed-heading. Past myth and a dream provided inspiration for New Zealand comic writer David Tulloch whose six page comic Fire Sale came to life through collaboration. David says, “The Fire Sale story was written specifically for Skreem, an artist who prefers to remain an enigma. I had worked with Skreem on an earlier story and had a vivid dream (a rarity for me) of Prometheus stealing fire all in Skreem’s art style, so I whipped up a script and Skreem produced something even more vivid than my dream”.

“The Awakening” is courteously provided by Chilean-Kiwi graphic novelist and comic creator Gonzalo Navarro who combines traditional historical facts, mythology and modern concepts in Aotearoa Whispers.

Awakenings. Gonzalo Navarro

Awakenings. Gonzalo Navarro.

Set in Christchurch, Navarro’s graphic novel includes full texts in both English and Te Reo Maori. His story is concerned with colonialism, identity and heritage and is the result of his love affair with New Zealand and Maori culture. It follows the journey of a thirteen year old boy, Kahi, as he discovers a coin which leads him to the past and, finally, to himself.


Word Games

Kiwis Soar. Maureen Sudlow

Raewyn Alexander has an environmental take on Past Myths, Present Legends, she says, “there are myths about travelling and some say we cannot change the way we travel and save the planet, but I want this to be the legend – we can change our ways and go on in better ways than before”, which might be termed urban re-mything. She documents her attempts in her Poetic Journey to America.

Urban myth in the making is at the core of Dargaville writer Maureen Sudlow’s eerie remembering in “Haunted”, where Kiwis Soar and are frightened of ice-cream vans; “a memoir with a bit of intrigue”.


Once Upon a Time, the Long Way

From soaring to soiree-ing with The Aotearoa Affair Editors. Dorothee Lang is a writer, web freelancer and traveller, and the founding editor of BluePrintReview, an experimental online literary and visual arts journal. Author of the travel novel Masala Moments, Dorothee has published written works and photography in The Sunday Herald (India), The New Yorker (USA), Zeit Online (Germany), Transitions Abroad (USA) and many other journals and magazines.

Mural in Konstanz, 2009, Dorothee Lang

In Once Upon a Time, An Empty Page, Lang transports us to Konstanz to experience “one of the oldest German literary works: a (anti)heroe’s tale”. The “Hildebrandslied” or “Hildebrand’s song” is “an old legend that points at the reality of the region beginning to turn into ‘Deutschland’ in the 15th century. Before that, Germany was a patchwork of changing borders, and endless wars. It’s maybe not coincidence that the warrior legend is one of the earliest literary works in German.

Halfway round the world from Dorothee Lang is the other editor of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest. Michelle Elvy lives and writes in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. Involved in several flash fiction projects this year, she’s the founding editor of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and is about to embark on a winter journey to Auckland for her latest project, “Flashback: A New Zealand History in Micro Moments”, for which she recently has received the New Zealand Society of Authors /Auckland Museum Library National Research Grant for 2012. Here she gives us two reflections by the light of her Glow Worm, one taking us back to once upon a time in Berlin and the other taking us through a watery dreamworld and an encounter with sailing legend Bernard Moitessier.

Escape Behaviours: Book Two, Page Seven

Escape Behaviours: Book Two, Page Seven

No stranger to sailing through dreamland the long way is this editor’s alter ego Rae Joyce whose epic graphic poem, Escape Behaviours, has been described by one reader as:

“mythical epic, a not-so-common adverture story and the reality of everyday life. It seems like the epic style and the appeals to the Gods are about attributing a higher meaning to the whole journey. This is something I think about a lot with my own life – whether everything has some overall significance, above the situations we’re in. It’s an interesting question and one you pose quite well in combining the three elements (an epic, an extra-ordinary life and an ordinary life). Maybe everyone has these three threads to their existence – it’s given me some food for thought” – Alan Chapman.


Making Legends; Making Love

Mairangi Bay based writer, editor, and teacher Jack Ross is the author of City of

Scott, Photo credit Imaginary Museum, Ross

Scott. Imaginary Museum. Ross.

Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal’s Book (2002), & To Terezin (2007), as well as three novels, a novella, and two collections of short stories. His editing credits include (with Jan Kemp) the trilogy of audio / text anthologies Classic, Contemporary & New NZ Poets in Performance (AUP, 2006-8), but he writes in his Imaginary Museum about the myth of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, in “Homage to Roland Huntford”. Drawing on a vast array of research, Jack’s post makes for compelling reading and a warning to those who dare to question the myth.

Dunedin writer Mike Crowl has filled his Scribble Pad with thoughts about legends and past writer Sir Walter Scott. Mike says, “it’s about the claiming of legends; Scott’s making them his own”.

Making legends their own, or rather becoming legends, is the stuff of contemporary legendary figures such as Steffi Graff, the lady captivating centre court at Blick Von Deutschland, Oregon writer and photographer Maurice Oliver’s tribute to all things German. Sometime traveller of New Zealand, Maurice clearly has a love affair with the country although why nobody told Graff Agassi was supposed to marry me I don’t know.

Writer, art teacher and gallery curator Vaughan Gunson says he takes his cue “from Bob Dylan’s later writing, where the object of love is various and shifting,” at Falling Away from Blue. Gunson lives in the small town of Hikurangi, north of Whangarei, a place perhaps not synonymous with legend. “Hikurangi used to have a coal mine, then a limestone quarry, followed by a dairy factory. It’s now home for at least two poets.” But in “Big Love Songs No. 45 and No. 46”, from a series of unpublished poems inspired by love poetry from the Renaissance to present day popular song, Gunson transports us from past to present “In a slim space of myth”.


Full Circle

Love is a fitting note to end on: love of story, love of myth and love of all things creation. The creators who’ve made this edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival possible through their generosity and vision have shared not only their ways of seeing but by gathering together on the same page have made new connections visible and enabled us all to inhabit, at least for a little while, the spaces between myths, the tabula rasa where today was legend.

My thanks go round to all the contributors, artists, filmmakers, researchers, poets, and novelists, for making this Blog Carnival not only a sensory feast and a memorable get together but a table where there’s room for everyone.


Be a part of the next carnival…

We are now inviting contributions for the third edition of the blog carnival, which will be a special all-nations edition in celebration of World Book Day on 23rd April, the theme is “BOOKS FROM OTHER PLACES”: “We are inviting blog entries about books written in another language or in a different place from your own home country. Embrace the foreign, the different, the strange. Write about the experience of reading another culture. Share something that opened your mind to another place, and join this cross-cultural celebration of words.” Again, the whole edition will be blog-based, with links leading to the single features. The hosts for the April carnival are Michelle Elvy in New Zealand and Dorothee Lang in Germany. The deadline for contributions for the World Book Carnival is 15 April. For more details, visit How To Join.

Blog Carnival #1: CROSSINGS

Germany and New Zealand.
Neuseeland und Deutschland.

Seen geographically, these two countries are about as far apart as they could possibly be. But across oceans and timezones, people associated with these two places reach out, connect and share their current projects. Here we introduce German and Kiwi poets, storytellers, bloggers and artists as they travel and transform, wander and dream. The blog carnival is part of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Fest, inspired by the 2012 Frankfurt Bookfair in October — where New Zealand is the Guest of Honour. For more about other features at the Aotearoa Affair, please visit us at the Blog Fest Website.

In the first Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, twenty-four writers from Germany to New Zealand connect. Thank you for connecting, too, wherever you are!

The theme of this blog carnival is CROSSINGS.


At the end of this place

“There’s a bluff at the south end of this place. It looms. It’s iconic. It just is.” – Writer Keri Hulme is southern Kāi Tahu but lives in “Big O” — Okarito. Among her passions are whitebait and family history. In 1985 Keri’s novel The Bone People won the Booker Prize. At Te Karaka’s blog, she writes about The Lagoon, The Bluff – the story of us all.

“Any­thing really worth telling that’s not also on TV comes in those indi­rect ways: life’s criss­cross­ing until the texture’s just right, and then it’s sud­denly not right any­more and you have to cut it all up again and start over,” states Marcus Speh, a German writer who lived and taught in New Zealand in 2002. He reflects on how he got there, and left again, and what it all meant so far at: The New Zealand Chronicles.


Walkabouts & Wanderungen

“When I walk my mind has permission to wander—die Gedanken sind doch frei, gel?” Travel author and Lebenskünstler Christopher Allen lets his mind tramp from Germany to New Zealand and considers the importance of wandering, of learning the natural rhythm of one’s own thoughts in From D to NZ – Eine Wanderung.

“To name a place gives us power over it, some say. Naming is certainly tied up with identity, and what significance a place has for us,” notes Kes Young, a writer and journalist living in Moera, Lower Hutt, Aotearoa New Zealand. Kes recently crossed from the North to the South Island of New Zealand, which made him ponder on different languages and cultural perspectives: Naming places.

“You go alone with a stick to push against the current with. You go together holding waistbands or tied together with packs.” Poet Emma Barnes takes us into the water in her poetry blog: Take all river crossings seriously; the risks are great.


Crossing Hemispheres

Rachel J Fenton is a writer and artist living in Auckland – she  migrated to New Zealand from the North of England and currently works on an epic graphic poem that is based on her real life migration experiences: Escape Behaviours. Rachel J. Fenton also interviews poets in her blog snow like thoughts.

Megan Doyle Corcoran worked as an attorney in California before she moved to New Zealand. She is now enrolled at the International Institute of Modern Letters where she is studying for her Masters in Creative Writing. She enjoys watching American politics from a comfortable distance. Here is a recent post from her blog “letters to the weather”: A Semi-Fictional Account of Homelessness.

“It seemed surreal sitting there, looking at that freakishly long pier, discussing a poetry reading at Saatchi and Saatchi World HQ in Hudson Street, downtown Manhattan.” Hinemoana Baker has published, produced and performed as a singer songwriter and poet since the early 1990’s in New Zealand, Indonesia, Australia and the USA. She just travelled to the States and blogs about her trip at a māori in manhattan.



“I bought a map and drove all over / but I still don’t know / if I’ll ever get used to / looking right and shifting left..” Michelle Elvy lives on a sailboat in the Bay of Islands and edits several journals including a flash fiction zine in New Zealand. Her latest project is “Flashback: A New Zealand History in Micro Moments” for which she recently has received the New Zealand Society of Authors /Auckland Museum Library National Research Grant for 2012. The project takes as its starting point personal reflections on change and immigration, such as in the poem Latitude Adjustment.

“Curved over islands, the world / dragged me south in a talkative year” – Tim Jones‘ s Tuesday poem “Impertinent To Sailors” tells about a transition – and recently got transformed itself: composer Brett Weymark picked it up and set it to music as choral work. Read about it in Tim Jones’ blog: Books in the Trees.

“It is necessary to know where you come from, if you want to communicate, reach the other and build something up,” states Ablo, a musician from Burkina Fasu who is living in Milano, Italy. Berlin-based video artist Patrizia Monzani tried to amplify this idea, using simple universal symbols, in her video about him, “ABLO“.


Bound for Berlin

“There’s no transit bus, no Checkpoint Charlie. Nothing. I should be collecting my keys, should be gone already.” – Dorothee Lang lives in Germany and always was fascinated by languages and roads. She blogs at “life as a journey” – join her there for a string of Berlin memories that lead from the Cold War to the now: Four Berlins, or: I am (t)here.

Jürgen Fauth was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and has lived in New York, New Orleans, Mississippi and the Dominican Republic. He is the co-founder of the literary community Fictionaut, and his debut novel Kino will be published by Atticus Books in April. Kino tells the story of a visionary silent film director who leaves Nazi Germany for Hollywood. In his tumblr-blog Tulpendiebe, Jürgen posts material related to the world of the novel, including a brief excerpt in which Kino’s American granddaughter Mina is confronted with her paradoxical political heritage: On the Far Side of the Gate.

Kate Brown is a film-maker and writer who works in English and moved to Berlin two years ago. Currently she is also working on a translation and blogs about the process – and about exploring Berlin – at “Postcards from a Flat Land”: Notes on Translations.


Word Trails

The German word for vocabulary is Wortschatz – which literally translates to word treasure – and that’s exactly what Roucheswalwe blogs about: the peculiarities of German and English words. There even are some detours into Japanese included – read about Schadenfreude, Glücksbringer and Kernholz at the Fünffingerplätze’.

“It was the fourth day since they had fled the Keep of Winds..” Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer and lover of story. For the “Crossings” carnival, she sent a passage from her novel “The Heir of Night”, which will be published in Germany this year: “River of No Return“.

Crossing: a word with many meanings. Linda Hofke, a writer and blogger who grew up in Pennsylvania and currently lives in Germany, combines some of the definitions with photographs from Germany in her blog Linda’s Life on the Other Side: Crossing.

Trish Nicholson grew up on the Isle of Man, and has since lived and worked in many places, including Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, and now settled in New Zealand. In her blog “Words in the Treehouse”, she shares stories, photos, and experiences – like her view on crossing over from traditional print publishing to electronic publishing: How I Joined the e-Book Game.


Nocturnal Reflections 

“puriri moth dreaming / under a midnight moon / on ridgelines of obsidian / hangs the emerald cloth of spring”Piet Nieuwland writes from the shores of the Hokianga Harbour, a singularly romantic place, where he observes the large black and green puriri moth under a full moon and dreams and connects to ancestors and love and language: Puriri Moth Dreaming.

A poet, writer and performer from Auckland, Raewyn Alexander is about to enter a Poetic Journey to America: from New Zealand across the Pacific Ocean by boat – then across America by train and plane to visit writers she has met online. For the carnival, she sent a reflective video poem: Ultramarine.

“Doping nocturnal moths, dry and empty in their brown winged shells / The densely sweetened perfume of manuka hugs the ground…” Martin Porter is  a member of a writing group in Jersey and of the Whangarei poetry group “Take Flight”. His writing is often informed by his scientific background, and he takes delight in the similarities between poetry and scientific expression. In Pasifika Queen Mab,  he explores a dichotomy poem that transposes the world of quintessential English into the world of the New Zealand bush.


Under the Streets of the Skies

Unter den Straßen der Himmel— I am not a native German speaker, but I learned it at school back in the 1970s, and kept it alive by directing a play in German for the Auckland University and the International Goethe Society back in the late 1980s,” Aidan-B. Howard explains. His “Crossings” contribution is a poem he wrote in German, with English translation: Der Spaziergänger.

Rae Roadley is a New Zealander living at Batley on the Kaipara Harbour, a place that inspired columns about life on the harbour present and past. Her columns turned into the book  Life at the End of the Road (by Penguin Books). For the blog carnival, Rae crossed into the point of view of her dog in A letter from Floss.

A poet, novelist and artist who lives lives in Paekakariki, Michael O’Leary has written several works that are connecting German/Aotearoa themes. For the carnival, he put the fable “Rubesahl” online in his blog, and an excerpt from his novel “Unlevel Crossing“.


More Reads + How to Join

Thank you for reading the first edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival. For more about the Aotearoa Affair, please visit  our Blog Fest website, where an eclectic mix of poetry, short stories and videos are featured every week in the Weekly Highlights.  If you are a reader just beginning to explore literature from New Zealand, we recommend the recent feature, Once upon a time in Aotearoa.

We are now inviting contributions for the second edition of the blog carnival — again, the whole edition will be blog-based, with links leading to the single features. We welcome art, poetry, music, fiction, non-fiction, etc. The guest editor for the next edition is  Rachel Fenton. The theme is PAST MYTHS, PRESENT LEGENDS. The deadline for contributions for the March Blog Carnival is 20 March. For more details, visit How To Join.