Taking words to the edge

A hint of tango and a dash of schmaltz

Back in February, New Zealand Poet Laureate Ian Wedde got together with fellow poets and artists to dig into the idea of poetry as words on edge – on the edge of your seat, at the edge of the known universe, where speaking, writing and telling get shuffled in the language deck.

Lynn Jenner rocks it poetry style with her band at Meow, February 15 2012. Photo by Michael Edge-Perkins.Lynn Jenner rocks it poetry style with her band at Meow, February 15 2012. Photo by Michael Edge-Perkins.

Lynn Jenner, Aleksandra Lane, and Amy Brown performed their work, pushing their poems out to (and over) the edge. Lynn’s long, languorous performance of her poem about Mata Hari was taken to the edge of melodrama by her backing band. Aleksandra stretched for the political and the personal, and Amy provided a taste of her 8000-line religious poem.

Ian read several pieces, including a small part of his ongoing “Shadow stands up”, which is currently unfolding on the NZ Poet Laureate blog, and all the poets put their voices to work on each others’ poems. And wonder of wonders, it was all recorded by our own Nick Guy.

Pushing to the edge, and hopefully over

In the spirit of experiments like this very website, and allowing bags into the General Reading Room (scandal!), we decided we’d like to share this recording with you – hopefully as the first of many.

Part one (51 min)

Part two (48 min)

What’s brought this on? We’re back home now after a couple of years of pretty intense change. Settling back in means we not only get to have more events, but we also have a chance to think about how to make sure everyone interested gets to attend. Part of the answer is to go straight for the ears.

The smart thing to do in today’s world is reach out to people where they are. Some folks aren’t in Wellington; others were busy that night. This woman didn’t find out about it until too late; that guy can’t come because his agoraphobia’s kicking in. Of course we still love it when people come visit us at the centre, but everyone else is out there living on the edge and it’s up to us to fit into their lives.

There’s always another edge to reach

The recording is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence (CC-BY 3.0). What does that mean? I hear you cry. Well, you’re welcome to share and remix this recording in any way you like, but you’ve got to attribute the National Library of New Zealand.

Ian and the other artists still own the poems and music they performed, so don’t go trying to nick off with those, but this recording is fair game. Download it! Give it to your friends! Make a dubstep remix!

On August 30 there’s more live poetry as Ian is joined by former UK Poet Laureate Sir Ian Motion, Bill Manhire, and Bernadette Hall. We’re recording this event as well, and will post it for you to enjoy again and again.

Teaser image: Ian Wedde reading, by Michael Edge-Perkins.

By Lucy Schrader

Lucy is your friendly neighbourhood online editor.

Post a Comment

(will not be published) * indicates required field
Bill Macnaught August 30th at 7:22AM

Looking forward to the Wharewaka event tonight!

Brian December 20th at 5:58PM

Thanks for the recordings. Are they catalogued in Te Puna, and archived in NDHA?

Reuben SchraderNational Library December 21st at 2:09PM

Hi Brian, just check with the Oral History and Sound curator, and they're both catalogued and in the NDHA, so they'll be saved in perpetuity.