Writer in Residence announced

The inaugural Blackball Writer’s residency received thirty five applications from across New Zealand. The residency, funded by Creative NZ, allows a writer to receive a small stipend and to spend four weeks in a miner’s cottage generously provided by West Coast historian, Brian Wood. The project was required to have a Coast reference, be of a working class or activist nature or look into a progressive future.

Given the kaupapa, we were surprised to receive this number of applications, with some from New Zealand’s senior writers. It was difficult to select one from many excellent projects.’

The panel was made up of Greymouth literary enthusiast, Catherine Woollett, Christchurch writer with strong Blackball connections, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, well known Dunedin novelist, Paddy Richardson and Blackball-based writer, Paul Maunder.

Selection criteria covered the strength of the project, its viability (likely to be completed and published), the attractiveness of a writing sample submitted and its alignment with the character of the residency. The initial judging resulted in a short list of Peter Clayworth, Stevan Eldred-Grigg, Mandy Hager, Becky Manawatu and Pat White.

After much discussion the panel chose Christchurch writer and historian, Stevan Eldrid-Grigg. His project is to write the final draft of a memoir called Grey Green Rain based on the first six years of his life, which were spent in Blackball.  He wrote in his application:  “My parents, with my three older siblings, moved to Blackball in the spring of 1952. My father was a public servant and had taken a job in the Mines Department, running the little office at the corner of Harper and Hilton Streets. My mother was a former shoe factory machinist; she and her sisters and their mother were my sources for my novel Oracles and Miracles. I was born a few weeks after our arrival in Blackball. We lived in a rented Mines Department cottage in Brodie Street, and afterwards in Harper Street. I spent the first six years of my life in Blackball before our family shifted back over the hill to Canterbury. Blackball, the Grey Valley and more broadly the West Coast have been something like a lost green dreamland in my imaginative world. All through my writing life I’ve been aware of a tension between ‘Blackball’ and ‘Canterbury’ ways of seeing the world. Blackball stands in my mind for the green, the wet, the warm, the homely, the motley, the welcoming, the kindly, the supple, the deep, the mysterious. Canterbury, by contrast, stands for the dry, the linear, the cold, the orderly, the colourless, the distancing, the logical, the superficial. Canterbury ways and Blackball ways of seeing and thinking and feeling have always nagged or fought or made love with one another in my books.”

These books include four novels and eleven history books of which The Southern Gentry and Diggers, Hatters and Whores would be best known.

The sample submitted shows that the memoir will be being something of a sociological study from a child’s point of view. To complete this project in situ was an attractive proposition for all concerned and will add to the local understanding of the broader literary tradition of the Coast that the Bathhouse  Co-op, a subsidiary of Te Puawai Co-op is fostering with its Readers and Writers Festival, its Writers Retreat and now the residency.

While resident, Stevan will give a public talk in each of the town centres on the Coast, hold a writing workshop with a selected group of school students and give a final reading from his memoir at a Blackball pub.

As a taster he has given permission for us to publish this short extract:

“School is alright. The classrooms are in a long yellow building in a big park with lots of trees all around it and it’s just down the road from Brodie Street. The classrooms are big and brown and they’ve got big wide high windows all along one of the walls so you can look out and see the grass and the trees and the birds and the bush on the hills and the clouds in the sky. At the front of my classroom there’s a big long blackboard where my teacher writes with chalk. The blackboard isn’t really black. It’s green. So people should say greenboard. Mrs Driscoll, who’s my teacher, she looks at our fingernails at the startof each day.

‘Good, Billy,’ she says, walking along and looking. ‘A bit slipshod, Heather.’

Mrs Driscoll’s got a sort of squashed head like a bulldog but she’s not scary like a bulldog. Her face is soft and pink and powdery. And her hair is fair and all wavy. And shewears jewels in her ears. Pink jewels. Or glossy black jewels. So she must be rich. She looks at some more fingernails.

‘Good, good, good,’ she says. ‘Very good, Stevan.”

Given the demand, the Co-op will seek funding for further residencies and approach some local stakeholders. ‘For the Coast to become something of a mecca for writers with progressive agendas should surely be encouraged. What an amazing piece of branding that would be.

stevan_eldred-grigg1

photo: Otago Daily Times

 

 

Cancellation

Quote for the day: ‘…viruses are concerns not just for the police, medicine, science and the experts, but for the entire collective imagination; this is because there is more to them than mere episodic events in an irrational world. They embody the entire logic of our system, and are merely, so to speak, the points at which that logic crystallizes spectacularly. Their power is a power of irradiation and their effect, through the media, within the imagination, is itself a viral one.’ Jean Baudrillard, Screened Out.
 
It is with great regret that we cancel this year’s festival. The co-op members felt that given the uncertainty, it is best to cancel at this stage, before things get busier and so that people are not inconvenienced closer to the date.
There is no long weekend available later in the year (the school has a reunion over Labour Weekend) so we look to the same programme next year.
Thank you for your enthusiasm and support – and our apologies.
 
Heoi ano na
 
Paul

 

Festival 2020

The Bathhouse Co-op (a subsidiary of Te Puawai Cooperative Society Ltd) presents the second

Blackball Readers and Writers Festival

Queen’s Birthday Weekend, Saturday & Sunday 30-31 May, 2020

This intimate festival, a contribution to the West Coast transition economy, takes the model of the underground coal mine and transposes it to the world of NZ literature.

It takes place once again in the beautiful setting of the local school.

This festival will look at writers as activists, renegades and recluses.

Programme:

Saturday 30t May, noon, assemble for lunch and powhiri at the Blackball school, following which:

In keeping with the task of resurrecting forgotten writers, Pat White and David Young will discuss the life and work of Peter Hooper, the West Coast writer and poet, teacher and bookshop owner, who lived a lonely yet fruitful life on the West Coast, influencing many aspiring creatives.

After a break, Caroline Selwood will speak with Sandra Arnold, whose work includes two novels, a book on parental bereavement, a short fiction collection and her third recent historical novel, The ash, the well and the Bluebell. To conclude the first session, Pat White will read some of his poems.

For those new to the village, a short guided tour will take place before dinner.

In the evening, starting at 8pm, guests are invited to a performance of Waiting for Greta, the remake of the classic Waiting for Godot, this time set within the climate crisis. Written by Paul Maunder, the hour long production, premiered in 2019, is by local group, Kiwi/Possum Productions.

Sunday morning, starting at 10.00am, Paddy Richardson will talk with Becky Manawatu, whose first novel, Auē, dealing with ‘kids, gangs and curdled masculinity’, has been very well received. At 11.30am, Elspeth Sandys will then speak with David Young about her extensive writing life with a focus on her latest work, A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, a story that combines family memoir, biography, history and travelogue.

After lunch, at 1.30pm Paul Maunder will talk with Nicky Hager, NZ’s best known investigative Journalist, whose books have uncovered environmental, political and military skulduggery. How did his work begin? What is the role of the journalist-writer, what is the methodology, what are the ethical issues?

At 3pm, the afternoon will conclude  with a panel discussion chaired by Kennedy Warne with two writers discussing their source material and their motivation,. Tim Jones, whose latest novel is a Cli-Fi book, Where we land will be joined by Kathleen Gallagher, whose recent novel Inangahua Gold is inspired by local history and environment. The festival will conclude with a dinner hosted by Paddy Richardson and Elspeth Sandys at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, as part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter.

The books of the festival’s guest authors and related works will be available to purchase throughout the weekend, and other writers are invited to bring books for a local mini market.

Ticket Prices

Full ticket covering both days $80 (inclusive of afternoon teas, Saturday lunch & dinner and Sunday lunch) – Sunday dinner to be paid for individually.

One day tickets $40 (includes lunch and afternoon tea)

Session Tickets $15

Accommodation for those from out of town: Blackball Hilton ($40 per night), Blackball Inn ($45), tiny houses at Blackball salami, AirBnB, and holiday cottages. For those on a low budget, there are 4 spaces available at the Brian Wood cottage and  freedom camping (including tent sites) will be available at the Community House.

Please register your and purchase tickets by emailing wkcultur@gmail.com. There will be a car pooling box.

Authors 2020

 

 

 

Blackball Readers & Writers Festival 2020

stephan-logo-for-website.jpg

The second Blackball Readers and Writers Festival will take place at Queen’s Birthday Weekend, running from midday Saturday 30th May to Sunday evening. Part of the transition of the Coast from extraction, the festival uses the underground mine as a model to apply to literature. This year’s theme is activists, renegades and recluses. It will take place once again in the beautiful setting of the local school.

Pat White and David Young will ‘recover’ the work of Greymouth born, Peter Hooper, poet, teacher, novelist, environmentalist and mentor to young writers. Choosing to stay and write on the Coast, he was in some ways, a tragic figure. Pat White will then read some of his own poems.  After dinner, Paul Maunder’s Waiting for Greta, a remake of the theatre classic Waiting for Godot will be performed. Sunday morning, Paddy Richardson will talk with Becky Manawatu, whose first novel, Auē, dealing with ‘kids, gangs and curdled masculinity’, has been very well received. Elspeth Sandys will then speak with David Young about her extensive writing life with a focus on her last work A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, a story that combines family memoir, biography, history and travelogue. After lunch Paul Maunder will talk with Nicky Hager, NZ’s best known investigative Journalist, whose books have covered environmental, political and military skulduggery. How did his work begin? What is the role of the journalist-writer, what is the methodology, what are the ethical issues? The afternoon will conclude with a panel discussion of writers, their source material and their motivation, chaired by Kennedy Warne. Tim Jones, whose latest novel is a Cli-Fi book, Where we land will be joined by Kathleen Gallagher, whose recent novel Inangahua Gold is inspired by local history and environment and Sandra Arnold, whose work ranges from the description of a mother daughter relationship during a battle with cancer to her recent historical novel, The ash, the well and the bluebell which begins with the Christchurch earthquake. The festival will include with a dinner at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, as part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter.

.Registration: wkcultur@gmail.com

Full festival: $80, including lunches and Saturday dinner.

Authors 2020

te puawai logo only

Paparoa shuitle logo