Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Private Bestiary

There's been much said in the Reading the Maps blog about this when it was in the "coming soon" stage. I was delighted to receive a notice of the launch (happened tonight), listen to the readings, and hear how enthusiastic folk are about one of this country's poets. That it was held in Old Government House added to the event.

Now, I'm not a poetry reader or aficionado by definition or usual passtime. I do have my favourites though (one is W H Auden), and I have written the odd piece (quite odd, some of them) at times in my life when the need to paint word pictures and express feelings required it. Some may still be floating around online.

And this is Timespanner. Yes, I do detour down mural alley from time to time, but this isn't a poetry appreciation corner.

Still, I think folks should take a look at Private Bestiary. (Of course, even better for Titus Books and for Scott Hamilton who shows his ardency for Kendrick Smithyman's works clearly -- buy a copy. I did.) It merits mention here because I got hooked on many of Smithyman's descriptions of events, people and influences which, were they instead in essay form, would be considered historical writing without hesitation. He writes of wartime experiences, the 1943 crash at Whenuapai, even Jacky Marmon. (Local tie-in: Marmon was one of the early owners of Avondale land, in absentia, as I recall).

There is always history to be found in recollection, and in art. The cover, by the way, is a 1917 "comic photo montage", as the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library's database puts it, by George Bourne (1875-1924), called Dragonfly over Rangitoto. Bourne was also a pioneer of aerial photography here in New Zealand, working with the Walsh Brothers.


  1. Have read about this new publication with growing interest, may have to nag the bookstore to order some in.

  2. I checked out Smithyman's site today in between frying my brain writing a massive blog post about Shackleton's dogs (finally finished!)

    I am not a poetry buff BUT as of today I am a fan of Smithyman. I read his works and now I am hooked. I really love this man's mastery of words. Favourite so far has to be 'Tomarata' I know that area well and there was Smithyman describing it exactly as it is. Scott is quite right. The man should have been written about by the very place he was born in. My Grandmother was born at Te Kopuru. A talent not to be ignored.