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Main Trunk Lines - Celebrating NZ Poetry

12 July 2005
For immediate release

Main Trunk Lines - an exhibition celebrating New Zealand poetry 22 July to 30 October 2005 at the National Library Gallery

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A major exhibition of New Zealand poetry from the past 150 years opens at the National Library Gallery on 22 July.

Drawing extensively on the book and manuscript collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Main Trunk Lines: New Zealand Poetry samples some of the country's best-known poems alongside the more peripheral, experimental and surprising

Exhibits range from Eileen Duggan's teapot to a cartoon about James K Baxter by Chris Knox. Also included are book-designs, voice recordings, Anna Livesey's series of commissioned poems on a set of beer coasters, and two poems written by James K Baxter on the wallpaper of Michael Illingworth's house.

From the widely accepted to the radical - Thomas Bracken's 'God Defend New Zealand' to Cilla McQueen's 'Dogwobble' - Main Trunk Lines offers visitors a bearing on the broad imaginative map of New Zealand poetry.

Collaborations between visual artists and poets have long been a feature of New Zealand cultural life. Photographs by Alan Knowles, Robert Cross and others will provide a composite group-portrait of the poets behind the lines. Works by Waiheke-based Denis O'Connor incorporate poems by Allen Curnow, Janet Frame and others. Further artists in the exhibition include Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, John Reynolds, Saskia Leek, John Pule, Fiona Pardington, Virginia King, John Baxter, Toss Woollaston and Michael Illingworth. The short poem-films of Richard von Sturmer are also included.

The 'main trunk lines' in the title are the lines of poetry that run through the books and art works in the exhibition - the lines that have shaped and influenced the imaginative life of New Zealand. Featuring the most significant poems and publications of the past 150 years, the exhibition looks at poetry today, how it got here and where it's going in the future.

A well-stocked reading room will be a feature of the exhibition, allowing visitors to sit back and savour a huge range of current poetry titles. A diverse programme of related events will also be offered during the course of the exhibition.

Main Trunk Lines is curated by Jenny Bornholdt (current Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate) and Gregory O'Brien.



New Zealand poetry
22 July – 30 October 2005


Celebrating Wellington Poets
The New Zealand Book Council celebrates Montana National Poetry Day with James Brown, Jenny Bornholdt, Geoff Cochrane, Bill Manhire, Gregory O’Brien, Chris Price and Ashleigh Young. Tickets available from the Book Council. Email or telephone 499 1569 ($5 members, $6 students/unwaged, $7 non members).
Friday 22 July, Auditorium, 12.00noon

Writers on Mondays
The National Library Gallery is pleased to support the poetry-related events in the Writers on Mondays programme presented by the International Institute of Modern Letters in association with City Gallery Wellington. All events held Mondays at City Gallery at 1.00pm. Free admission. Visit to view the full programme (11 July – 26 September).

18 July Two New Zealand Poets: Adam Prize-winner Emily Dobson unveils A Box of Bees, her first collection, and Anna Jackson offers a selection of recent work.

25 July New Zealand Poetry Abroad: Belgian poet/translator Jan Lauwereyns and Gregory O’Brien read their own work and talk about taking New Zealand poetry to Antwerp, Rotterdam and Moscow.

1 August The Writer in the House: Victoria University Writer-in-Residence Stephanie de Montalk reads from her new collection Cover Stories and previews work in progress.

8 August Two American Poets: Nick Twemlow is a Fulbright fellow, poet and literary magazine editor exploring his New Zealand roots. He and poet Robyn Schiff read and discuss their work and the US poetry scene.

15 August Lunch with the Laureate: current Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate Jenny Bornholdt in readings and conversation with Damien Wilkins.

The Road to Jerusalem
A documentary featuring the words and works of James K Baxter. (Director: Bruce Morrison, Morrison Grieve, New Zealand, 1997, 74 minutes, colour, BetaSP.) Screening courtesy of The New Zealand Film Archive Ngâ Kaitiaki o ngâ Taonga Whitiâhua.
Thursday 28 July, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Guided Tour of Main Trunk Lines with curators Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O’Brien.
Thursday 4 August, Gallery, 12.10pm

The Karaoke Poet Strikes Again
A lunchtime performance by Craig Ireson, creator of the highly-acclaimed Karaoke Poetry, recently on show at BATS. Winner ‘Best of the Fringe 2005’ and ‘Best Spoken Word Fringe 2005’. ‘Karaoke Poetry is about a time in the not-too-distant future when people have become tired of idle idols, of pre-fabricated pop stars mumbling their way onto the rich lists, and return to poetry as their songs and poets as their pop stars.’ Free admission.
Thursday 11 August, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Early Days Yet: a profile of the poet Allen Curnow
A special screening of the 2001 New Zealand Film Festival documentary. (Director: Shirley Horrocks, Point of View Productions, New Zealand, 2001, 73 minutes, colour, DVD.)
Thursday 18 August, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Bell Gully National Schools Poetry Award
Readings by Nick Ascroft, Jenny Bornholdt, Bernadette Hall, Bill Manhire. The National Schools Poetry Award will be presented after the readings. Public welcome, free admission.
Friday 19 August, City Gallery, 6.00pm

The Roaring Forties
A documentary about Gary McCormack and Sam Hunt’s 1995 poetry road tour. (Director: Bruce Morrison, Anson Grieve Productions, New Zealand, 1995, colour, 50 minutes, BetaSP.) Screening courtesy of The New Zealand Film Archive Ngâ Kaitiaki o ngâ Taonga Whitiâhua.
Thursday 25 August, Auditorium, 12.10pm

The Count: profile of a polemicist
A documentary that looks at the life of Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk: poet, pamphleteer, pagan, pretender to the Polish throne, and, arguably, New Zealand's greatest eccentric. Filmed in Wellington 1985. (Miller Productions, Wellington; Producer Stephanie de Montalk, Director Ian Paul, colour, 50 minutes, BetaSP, first screened TVOne 1987.) Screening courtesy of The New Zealand Film Archive Ngâ Kaitiaki o ngâ Taonga Whitiâhua.
Thursday 1 September, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Hone Tuwhare: the return home
A documentary about Hone Tuwhare’s return to his birthplace near Kaikohe, 75 years after leaving Northland. Featuring poet Glenn Colquhoun. (Director: Michelle McGregor, Blue Totara Limited, New Zealand, 60 minutes, colour, DVD.) Screening courtesy of The New Zealand Film Archive Ngâ Kaitiaki o ngâ Taonga Whitiâhua.
Thursday 8 September, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Musing in Maoriland: New Zealand colonial poetry
A talk by Harry Ricketts, Jane Stafford and Mark Williams.
From the sublime to the gorblimey, colonial poetry has been seen as a
source of entertainment, contempt and embarrassment by later
generations. However, poetry played a central role in the way that
19th-century New Zealand thought and talked about itself, and
offers fascinating insights into the attitudes and preoccupations of the

Harry Ricketts is the co-editor of Spirit in a Strange Land: a selection
of New Zealand spiritual verse and its sequel Spirit Abroad, and How You
Doing: a selection of New Zealand comic and satiric verse. Maoriland:
New Zealand literature 1872-1914, by Jane Stafford and Mark Williams, will
appear shortly.
Thursday 15 September, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Four Men and a Woman
Readings by poets James Brown, Glenn Colquhoun, Chris Orsman, and Vincent O’Sullivan. Chaired by Lydia Wevers.
Thursday 22 September, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Celebrating Our Poets Laureate
Readings by Bill Manhire (1997), Elizabeth Smither (2001), Brian Turner (2003), and Jenny Bornholdt (2005). Light refreshments at 5.00pm. Public welcome, free admission.
Thursday 6 October, Auditorium, 5.00 for 5.30pm

Four Women and a Man
Readings by poets Hinemoana Baker, Kate Camp, Anna Livesey, and Vivienne Plumb. Chaired by Vincent O’Sullivan.
Thursday 13 October, Auditorium, 12.10pm

A New Paradise
Pacific poets read and discuss their work. A growing voice in the New
Zealand landscape speaks of the journey and experiences in search of
identity and a new-found paradise in Aotearoa.
Thursday 20 October, Auditorium, 12.10pm

Guided Tour of Main Trunk Lines with curators Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O’Brien.
Thursday 27 October, Gallery, 12.10pm



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