ALMOST HALF WAY THROUGH!
It is hard to believe I am nearly two weeks into my tour but also it feels like I have been here for months-considering the amount of stuff I have packed in!
Since the last update I have had a cultural whirlwind of a week. Let's start at the beginning....
The week began with an orchard visit to rest and recuperate (as pictured on the left). The weather in Hawke's Bay is traditionally warmer than anywhere else in the country and this was apparent as soon as I arrived. I enjoyed some lovely swims, some delicious freshly picked apples and saw the local sights, including Napier, the famous Art Deco town.
After some wonderful hospitality from Ben's parents and a chance to take a breath after the first week of touring, I had my next performance at the Common Room in Hastings.
This was a wonderful gig, with a huge local crowd there to support and a really awesome vibe.
Whilst in Hawke's Bay I also had a real once in a lifetime experience. In conjunction with our visit to the home of the Poet Laureate C. K Stead last week, we were lucky enough to be invited to his official presentation of the ceremonial Toko Toko at the local Marae - a traditional Maori welcome for the new Laureate with representatives from the local community, the poet's invited friends and family, a selection of celebrated Kiwi poets and some performers from the local schools all in association with the National Library who facilitate the position of Laureate. This was an extremely special occasion to be part of and I felt privileged, not only to be included in such a prestigious and intimate ceremony but also to witness the Maori culture at such a personal level and be welcomed into the community and immerse myself in its customs.
The next installment of the tour took me to the Capital itself. Wellington is a brilliant city. It is vibrant, quirky, clean and friendly and reminded me of Edinburgh (with better weather, less Castles but more Ocean.) I had a great couple of days of sightseeing but, in true freelancer style, this didn't stop me working at the same time. I was lucky enough to be invited onto local radio station Access Radio for an interview with B Side Stories ahead of the Wellington Gig. The podcast for my interview with Ben can be accessed here.
Last but by no means least this week, was my Wellington gig at Poetry In Motion, a night that Ben ran for years and one of the best and busiest poetry nights I have had the pleasure of featuring at, alongside Ben of course, who did a lovely and very well received set.
The MC Michael Howard was adorably funny and very welcoming, the host, Travis, was friendly and totally put me at ease as soon as I arrived, the sound guy was really on it, accompanying every walk on/off with a tune and the crowd were lovely, generous and engaged. I feel like I can take a lot from this gig back to my London events and learn from this established and well organised monthly NZ night. It was a pleasure to feature here, definitely the highlight of the tour so far from a performance perspective! Professional photos coming soon.....
To finish off this update I thought I would share a poem I wrote this week. I challenged myself to write a Sestina (a poem where the last word of the lines from the first stanza repeat themselves in a set pattern and a notoriously difficult form.) The poem that emerged is all about how the British mind set differs from that of the Kiwi and is based on my experiences here so far. Enjoy!
She wants to be glass half full and wallet half empty.
Just enough forethought to bring a map
but no need to navigate.
But she is the product of a different kind of Island
anchored to the rules and chaos of there,
washed up, beached, her mind set seems so foreign here.
People don’t swim in April here.
The ocean must feel so empty
without you there.
She spent months memorising your side of the map
but the shape of your Island
always seemed easy to navigate.
It’s a funny word - navigate.
Has a different meaning here.
There is only one road across the Island
in comparison, empty.
Just the occasional mark to map
that the mountains are there
and the forests are there.
Not much else to navigate.
But she is born from map
lines and traffic jams. Here
they let their tanks fall empty.
It’s how it is on the Island.
She redefines Island.
The motorways are unforgiving there.
Now her efforts feel empty.
She promises she knows how to navigate
but her detailed directions seem aimless here
she is holding the map
the wrong way up, she is holding the map
for the wrong type of Island
you are GPS here
but she still reads you from crumpled paper and there
are accents and attitudes to navigate
but the coordinates are empty.
You are off the edge of the map. She finds her way there, learns a foreign island,
tries to navigate you, but you are different here, glass half full and wallet half empty.