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.

5 thoughts on “Bi — An Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival

  1. An eclectic and surprising edition from some talent familiar and new. I found the candidness of many of these posts particularly refreshing and what I most like is that the prefix “bi” refuses to be reduced to simplistic binaries. Really enjoyable.

  2. Wonderful stuff here. I even found out about something happening in my own city that I didn’t know about (“Berlin Project”). Ingenious theme, marvelous execution, thanks, Christopher and the Aotearoa gang!

  3. Christopher: i wrote it in the mail already, but wanted to also post it: THANKS so much for hosting this unique and multi-dimensional edition. so many vibrant contributions, such a great variety.
    & a quote: today a friend wrote and said: “this new Aoteara blog is so professional and interesting. a really fine addition to an already wonderful project!”

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