Writing in Elsewhere

Books, authors, spoken word and poetry which may appeal to the curious spirit of Elsewhere.

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A LIFETIME IN GALAPAGOS by TUI DE ROY

8 Jun 2020  |  3 min read

A long time ago when studying botany and zoology for a career as marine biologist, I became fascinated by Charles Darwin. Not just his work on natural selection or how his thinking shifted God from the centre of Western thinking, but his life. Over the years when it was clear I was not cut out to be a marine biologist – the university, unfairly I believe, thought I... > Read more

COLIN McCAHON: IS THIS THE PROMISED LAND? VOL II 1960 – 1987 by PETER SIMPSON

25 May 2020  |  4 min read

When Peter Simpson left Colin McCahon at the end of the first volume of this superb series, the artist was at a turning point. McCahon had moved to Auckland after a successful career in the South Island, had turned 40 and – although he could not know this – was at the midpoint of his artistic career. Simpson now picks up this story with his customary... > Read more

STOP THE CLOCK by GORDON McLAUCHLAN

17 May 2020  |  3 min read

It's interesting to speculate on what the writer, journalist and social observer Gordon McLauchlan – who died in January age 89 – would have made of the recent pandemic lockdown. Doubtless he would have something astute to say about the language of politicians, scientists and business people, the behaviour of the masses and some wry observation of those miscreants who refused to... > Read more

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, by PRINCE, edited by DAN PIEPENBRING

27 Jan 2020  |  2 min read

Although controversial, seductive when courting attention and often presenting a salacious public persona, Prince was one of the most musically innovative artists of his era. He channeled psychedelic Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone funk and the sex'n'soul salvation of Marvin Gaye among others to create a unique musical amalgam which bridged genres. And, with his extraordinary Sign O The... > Read more

PACIFIC; AN OCEAN OF WONDERS by PHILIP J HATFIELD

20 Dec 2019  |  2 min read

When it comes to considering the Pacific Ocean, everyone is at a disadvantage. In our part of the world we look at that what Baldrick called the “big blue wobbly thing” and we think of Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue and other near neighbours. That to most of us in Aotearoa New Zealand is what the Pacific means. But if you are in Chile, Mexico, the Pacific North West... > Read more

OUT THERE; SCAPE PUBLIC ART 1998-2018 by WARREN FEENEY

27 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

For many years I have taken music classes at the University of Auckland in a lecture theatre which isn't that easy to find. So when I have guest speakers I tell them I will meet them on Symonds St outside the Engineering building, the one with huge Paul Hartigan abstract neon sculpture in the lobby, which is visible from the road. In five years not one guest as ever needed any... > Read more

WIRED FOR SOUND: THE STEBBING HISTORY OF NEW ZEALAND MUSIC by GRANT GILLANDERS and ROBYN WELSH

8 Nov 2019  |  4 min read

Some lives encompass multitudes. Take that of Eldred Stebbing, a man in the vanguard of many aspects of the New Zealand recording and music industry, who died a decade ago next month at age 88. He was born when air travel was in its infancy, movies were silent, there were market gardens around Avondale where he lived and Auckland's population was about... > Read more

MOPHEAD by SELINA TUSITALA MARSH

23 Oct 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

Auckland academic, former New Zealand Poet Laureate, award-magnet Selina Tusitala March – the first person of Pacific Island descent to get a PhD in English at the University of Auckland – has appeared a couple of times previously at Elsewhere with her poems Fast Talking PI and Guys Like Gaugin. But this self-illustrated book takes her in another direction, back through a... > Read more

COLIN McCAHON: THERE IS ONLY ONE DIRECTION VOL. I 1919 - 1959 by PETER SIMPSON

11 Oct 2019  |  6 min read

There is an easy and perhaps even amusing heresy to commit in New Zealand art: simply say aloud at a swanky cocktail party you think Colin McCahon is over-rated. When the sound of foreheads being slapped and sharp intakes of breath have faded you can drill down: his palette was limited (no cheery sky-blue available, Colin?); his representational figures are child-like in execution;... > Read more

NAILING DOWN THE SAINT by CRAIG CLIFF

25 Sep 2019  |  1 min read

At the narrative axis of this digressive second novel by Wellington writer Craig Cliff is one of the more idiosyncratic saints in the Catholic catalogue: the 17thcentury Joseph of Copertino who, according to contemporary accounts, levitated when in a state of grace or ecstasy. It is this aerial Joseph – patron saint of aviators but not the brightest of lights – which expat Kiwi... > Read more

CHAOS: CHARLES MANSON, THE CIA, AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SIXTIES by TOM O'NEILL with DAN PIEPENBRING

10 Sep 2019  |  4 min read

This being the 50thanniversary of what has become known as the Manson Murders – and Quentin Tarantino currently weighing in with his version of events on the periphery of those particular horrors – you'd think there would be little more to be said. There have been dozens of books and articles in the five decades since the arrest of Manson and his Family, and films and TV... > Read more

FRANCES HODGKINS; EUROPEAN JOURNEYS edited by CATHERINE HAMMOND and MARY KISLER

29 Apr 2019  |  4 min read

There is a delightful little watercolour – smaller than an A4 sheet – painted by Frances Hodgkins in 1930. It is of a gateway on the Riviera. She was 31 and on her way to Britain and it seems that this was the first painting she did outside of New Zealand which she had recently left for the first time. If that is so, it is a wonderfully emblematic work: women in the... > Read more

INNER CITY PRESSURE; THE STORY OF GRIME by DAN HANCOX

26 Apr 2019  |  4 min read

In 2006 the American Mark Kurlansky wrote The Big Oyster; History on the Half Shell which was nominally about the history of oysters and oyster bars in New York City (oysters as big as babies in the Hudson when European colonists arrived) but was in fact the story of the city itself. This idea of a topic expanding into social, cultural and political history was not new – Kurlansky had... > Read more

Pow! (Forward), by Lethal Bizzle

RUFUS MARIGOLD by ROSS MURRAY

1 Mar 2019  |  1 min read

Those of us who have not suffered from anxiety cannot truly know how paralysing it can be. And the notion of “anxiety attacks” is something of a misnomer, the anxiety is always there for many people. Tauranga-based writer and artist Ross Murray – whose beautiful hard-edge but warm style Elsewhere has has showcased in the past – suffers from anxiety (not as much as he... > Read more

DON'T SKIP OUT ON ME, a novel by WILLY VLAUTIN

28 Feb 2019  |  2 min read

When the young Mexican boxer Hector Hidalgo stepped into the ring wearing his red trunks trimmed with gold and bearing embroidered Thompson machine guns alongside his name, he wasn't there. He wasn't Hector. Hector Hidalgo was in fact Horace Hopper, part-Paiute/part Irish, who not only didn't speak Spanish -- a language he found difficult to learn – but didn't even like the spicy... > Read more

TRUE? Short stories by MICHAEL BOTUR

20 Dec 2018  |  1 min read

Northland writer Michael Botur is certainly prolific and hard-working. True? is his fifth such short story collection (and he wrote a novel) but he is also a columnist, blogger, writes corporate communications and advertising and now in his early Thirties has been making a living from writing since he was 21. Given all that background – and a Masters in Creative Writing from AUT and a... > Read more

APHORISMS: GIFTED ONE-LINERS by KELVIN ROY-GAPPER

5 Sep 2018  |  2 min read

Kelvin Roy is a New Zealand-based musician who is prolific in that field with a dozen albums for children alongside his jazz and popular work (notably with the Jews Brothers). But there is more to Roy than that. US-born, he grew up with a father who was a newspaper editor who, as he says in the introduction to this book, “specialized, among other things, in... > Read more

DANCING BETWEEN THE NOTES by JOHN FENTON

1 Sep 2018  |  2 min read

Aucklander John Fenton is a jazz aficionado and writer, a traveller into elsewhere and a poet who dedicates this collection to a number of jazz artists, and his friend and fellow writer Iain Sharp . . . and, of course, to family. Inevitably jazz, travel and reflection on a long life – he admits to having done everything from digging ditches to being a secretary to various... > Read more

NOWHERE NEAR by ALICE MILLER

8 Aug 2018  |  1 min read

The first time I went back to Britain as an adult (or at least a late-teen) I wrote in the journal I was carrying that “England is full of dead people”. Graveyards in villages, St Paul's and other such monuments, churchyards covered in tombstones, large areas where ancient battles were fought and the soil had been nurtured by the blood, bone and flesh of the dead . . . Most... > Read more

ASTRID KIRCHHERR WITH THE BEATLES, photography by ASTRID KIRCHHERR

1 Aug 2018  |  2 min read

When the doco on Amy Winehouse came out it was hardly a surprise that there should be so much footage of her as a child, teenage performer and aspiring singer in the many years before she became famous. She, as with anyone born after about 1970, is of the generations when parents and family had cheaper and portable video cameras. Previous generations of parents and family might have had... > Read more