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Going West Festival 12-14 September


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12-14 September, Small Islands of Meaning

Charles Brasch wrote of “small islands of meaning” and how we make sense of “the bewildering formlessness” of our place, our times and ourselves. To find those “small islands of meaning” we launch the search through poets, historians, musicians, designers, architects, artists and novelists.

In the gutterGutter Black by Dave McArtney is the candid, funny, irreverent and sometimes shocking story of Hello Sailor's emergence from “Mandrax Mansion” in pre-gentrification Ponsonby in the early 1970s. Publisher Finlay Macdonald, and band mates Graham Brazier and Harry Lyon reminisce and, from time to time, break into song.

In the kitchen cupboard – Valerie Ringer Monk talks about her Crown Lynn obsession and graphic designer, and writer Jonty Valentine explores the career and working process of a New Zealand design legend, Mark Cleverley, who will be on stage along with ObjectSpace director Philip Clarke.

In the State house and at home – Wallace Chapman takes architectural authors and commentators Bill McKay and Andrea Stevens through the story of the state house and social historians Jenny Carlyon and Diana Brown in Changing Times: New Zealand since 1945 make sense of state houses, the turbulent times we have lived through and our place in the world.

In fiction – Zealand-born Helen Brown's memoirs Cleo and After Cleo are international bestsellers. Old friend and colleague Lindsey Dawson converses with Helen about her first novel Tumbledown Manor, a richly observed and laugh-out-loud funny story about a woman of 'certain years' who leaves the rat race for a quiet life restoring a crumbling country mansion.

In private – A session on Private Lives examines the issue of the privacy of letters and journals through recent publications of journals by Charles Brasch and the letters of J.C. Beaglehole.

At sea and beyond the black stump – A 75thanniversary publication of the 1930s South Seas Vagabonds brings to life the story of Kiwi yachting legend Johnnie Wray and Hard Country, a memoir by Robin Robilliard, tellingly evokes a classic story of the resoluteness of New Zealanders who tackle and tame marginal land.

Other writers appearing are Anne Kennedy, Robert Sullivan, Sam Sampson, John Pule, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Kiri Piahana-Wong, Ben Brown, Tina Makereti, Tina Shaw, Tracey Barnett and Sandra Coney.

Saturday night sees the Going West Poetry Slam take the stage. Going West was the first literary festival to front poetry slamming, a genre previously at home in pubs and halls. Expect it to be clever, funny, heart-warming and confrontational. Generous cash prizes: for details of heats taking place around Auckland.

The Going West New Zealand theatre season of Goodbye My Feleni by Dave Mamea pays tribute to Pasifika soldiers in WWII and is performed at the Playhouse Theatre, Glen Eden, 28-31 August.

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