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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In the New Zealand Author

In the production of the new style New Zealand Author, director Maggie Tarver is going from strength to strength.

When it first appeared in full color in June, the two-monthly newsletter of the New Zealand Society of Authors was attractive, but a little washed out.  Now, that has been fixed.  The jacket is attention-snatching, with the classical white silhouette of the Auckland Museum featured against an idyllic blue sky, and topped with snappy headlines promising stories on Auckland Museum's new writers' research grants, a self-publishing success, resident authors' memories of the ghastly Christchurch earthquakes, and "A $275,000 poem - in NZ!"

I have this shocking habit of reading magazines and newspapers from the back, and the story of the poem that yielded unbelievable riches was the second-to-last feature, meant that I succumbed yet again.  I couldn't resist reading the latest commentary from star-book-blogger Graham Beattie -- "Beatties Blat" -- which was on the back page, then turned immediately to Bernard Brown's story of the poem he wrote that profited him $275,000.

Spoiling a story is also a terrible thing, but as most of my readers are in the United States, my conscience allows me to do it.  Bernard Brown's story is also very funny.  He wrote a poem, it seems, in praise of his heritage garden -- a "paradise garden" that just happened to belong to a house he was selling.  The auctioneer, a a very bright and opportunistic fellow, vowed to the gathered crowd that not only was the 104-years-old house magnificent, but it went with a garden that was OFFICIALLY a paradise garden, and a poem lauding this official designation was about to be PUBLISHED.  And, voila, the selling price was $275,000 more than expected.

The poem was included in the story.

On pages 20-21 Maggie Tarver reports with some dismay on the depth of antipathy of the internet world against our recently legislated copyrights, after attending a Net Hui.

Page 16-19 relate the heartbreaking experiences of writers William Cottrell and Jenny Haworth in Christchurch. "Writing history -- as long as it doesn't kill you," Cottrell's piece is headed, while Jenny's story is simply and starkly titled, "February 22, 2011."

Page 13 to 15 hold a story headed "Self-Publishing, the Pros and Cons in Practice."  It is written by Mark Sommerset, who, with his wife Rowan, ventured into self-publishing children's books from their home on Waiheke Island in Auckland harbor.  It is thought-provokingly candid, revealing the problems as well as the joys.  Quality counts -- being shortlisted in book awards made a huge difference.

"The Jewel in the Crown" heads the story of the new Auckland Museum awards, along with a history of the museum and its fine research library.  Maggie Tarver is the writer.

Page 4 begins the list of books that are being translated ready for the Frankfurt Book Fair, along with a discussion by Gordon McLauchlan.  My prediction is that the discussion is by no means over.

And the editorial, which debates the constitution of the panels that decide Creative New Zealand literary grants, is written by Bernard Brown.

So it is a symmetrical issue, as well as being visually attractive.

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