Our courses are back on ZOOM and its business as usual! (End of this E- Zine for details of our upcoming courses).
HUB TUTORS’ READING PASSIONS
Creative Hub tutors hail from all over the world – UK, South Africa, USA, topped up with a good sprinkling of locals, and include some of our own graduates. Their tastes are international. “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, and our tutors do the same. Here are the books that have inspired them this summer…
“My summer reading: anything and everything by Joan Didion (who died in 2021). Every word of this great stylist and analyst seems engraved on the paper. The Year of Magical Thinking is a good place to start.
Cólm Toíbin’s leisurely but infinitely satisfying The Magician about the life of Thomas Mann. Michael Harlow sent me Nick Cave’s The sick bag song – notes scribbled on airline sick bags during The Bad Seeds’ American tour in 2014.
British poet laureate Simon Armitage – he gets better and better, and for a laugh S J Perelman: ‘The most of S J Perelman’. ‘I’d horsewhip you if I had a horse’ is just one throwaway line. And advice for creative writers: ‘If, at the close of business each evening, I myself can understand what I’ve written, I feel the day has not been totally wasted’. ”
Elizabeth is a prolific poet, novelist and short story writer. A former Te Mata Poet Laureate, she has won several awards including the poetry award at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, 2018. Her novel Loving Sylvie was published in 2019. She is a recipient of the Prime Ministers Award for Literary Achievement, NZ’s highest writing honour.
“Since January I’ve read among many others, The Living Dead by George Romero and Daniel Kraus; 1914 by Jean Echenoz and Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Toose.
I’m currently reading Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty and Wayfinding by Michael Bond. I'm not a Western fan but I picked up Riders of the Purple Sage and then True Grit randomly at the library.
Riders of the Purple Sage is ridiculously melodramatic and dated, yet totally gripping – and Zane Grey's descriptions of the Utah landscape are extremely impressive.
As for True Grit by Charles Portis it's a masterpiece, and if you are interested in how a writer can use voice in a tonal sense, and dialogue via the narration (first person point of view of a 14-year-old girl) to create a compelling character, and plot, then read this novel.”
Stuart is a playwright, radio dramatist and a novelist with more than 30 radio plays and opera libretti to his name. He has won several awards and fellowships, including the Adam New Zealand Play Award, and his work has been broadcast by the BBC World Service in UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia.
"I've been reading up a storm this summer – mostly books that have been on my to-read list for a while: Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi won the US National Book Award for fiction in 2019. It's brilliantly constructed, extremely smart, and includes more than one game-changing twist that caught me genuinely off-guard.
Elizabeth Knox's The Absolute Book is a mesmerising, genre-bending fantasy epic told in crackling prose.
And Felicia Rose Chavez's The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop is a critically important look at the culture of creative writing classrooms, the systemic problems often embedded therein, and how those of us who teach such workshops might best serve all our students. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it."
Jessica Wilson is a graduate of the US’s top writing programme, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently working on a literary nonfiction work about landscape, narrative, performance and long-distance walking trails while completing a PhD at Victoria University. She recently walked Te Araroa, NZ’s national pathway.
“For Christmas my daughter gifted me Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout, one of my favourite authors. With her astute understanding of human nature, Strout explores the evolving relationship between a couple whose marriage has ended years earlier. Her writing on the face of it is often simple and uncluttered, yet always deeply insightful. I was excited to read The Promise by Damon Galgut not only because it won the Booker Prize in 2021, but because Galgut hails from my country of birth.
This is an incredibly powerful story with wider historical resonances. For those interested in the craft of creative writing, it also makes for an interesting study of story structure, point of view, and the impact of the unsaid.”
Hub graduate Fiona Sussman has received acclaim for her three novels, including Shifting Colours, published in New York and London, and her third novel Addressed to Greta won the 2021 NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction. Her new novel The Doctor's Wife is due out in October with Bateman Books.
“Top of my list was the new George Saunders book, A Swim In The Pond In The Rain - seven escapes in one! Saunders' almost surgical knowledge of story structure (and what makes a good one work) is enlightening, and his impassioned dissection of the selected short stories by the Russian masters, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Gogol, makes for an unpretentious and very accessible read. Not all of the stories can be said to be brilliant, however, but Saunders explains why... and therein lies a most satisfying takeaway.
For a quicker, pithier read, I really enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino (a novelization of his 2019 film). Each chapter is a gorgeous vignette of the retro movie industry. Next on my list is The Fran Lebowitz Reader. I have become somewhat obsessed with the no-nonsense New York raconteur after devouring her Netflix series with Martin Scorsese.”
Paul Kalburgi is an award-winning British playwright, screenwriter and television producer, who’s work has been filmed and staged in the UK, US and New Zealand. His book The Writers Toolkit, provides tips and techniques for writers of all kinds.
“I’m currently working towards my PhD at the University of Auckland, so most of my reading revolves around that—exploring the effects of financialization on temporality and our ability to connect past, present and future, through the lens of contemporary novels. Over my ‘holiday’ break (PhD students never really take a holiday) I read The New Me by Halle Butler, Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart, The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst, and Severance by Ling Ma.
I’m loving short story collections at the moment as a change of pace, and a way to keep up my own reading for pleasure alongside my research. I seem to be gravitating towards women writers after the male-dominated space of financial writing because over summer I read (and loved) Bug Week: & Other Stories by Airini Beautrais, Devil’s Trumpet by Tracey Slaughter, and No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.”
Ruby Porter won the inaugural $10,000 Michael Gifkins Award for an unpublished manuscript with her book Attraction, about three women on a North Island road trip, which was the published by Text in Australia. Her other interests include fashion and design.
“I wasn’t looking for grief-laden stories; but this is how it is. Because I loved In A Strange Room, I chose The Promise by the same South African writer, Damon Galgut.
A child overhears her father promise her dying mother to make a gift of a house to her Black maid, Salome, for her faithful service over the years… Damon Galgut has an interesting style, with slithering points of view, breaking rules, in quite a personal intimate way.
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld revolves around a fundamental Christian cheese-making family in a rural farming community in post war Holland... It’s a disturbing, raw, coming of age, beautifully haunting story. And currently I’m about a third of the way through The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. So far, so good!
Judith White has won a number of awards for her short fiction, including the 1989 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award. A former Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow, she’s twice been shortlisted for fiction prizes at the Montana New Zealand Books Awards. Judith’s novel The Elusive Language of Ducks, was published in 2013.
“My summer reading includes the amazing A Ghost in the Throat by Irish poet and essayist Doireann Ní Ghríofa. I heard Doireann read from and talk about this book at Verb Readers & Writers Festival earlier this year and then rushed out to buy it.
She writes about the life of eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, but her own life winds through the story. The poets seem to find each other.
I’ve also been reading Ruby Solly’s powerful poetry collection, Tōku Pāpā, a book that, as the blurb says, serves as a map of survival for Māori growing up outside of their papa kāika. I’m currently reading Siobhan Harvey’s Ghosts, a collection of poetry about family and pain and building a life in a new country, and another unconventional memoir, Dear Memory by Victoria Chang. I highly recommend all of these reads – whatever the season.”
Dr Lynn Davidson has published poetry, essays and fiction. She has received several grants and fellowships both here and in Scotland, including the Hawthorden Fellowship at Hawthornden Castle, Edinburgh. Her latest collection, Islander was published by Victoria University Press in 2019.
“In the few free moments each day, I reread the poet Larry Levis: My name in Latin is light to carry & victorious… What a glorious play, an epic deflation that defined a Covid-riddled Christmas. Elegy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997) reminded me that craft enlarges compassion.
Ok forgiveness remains elusive, but no earthly writer has it to offer: ‘So Death blows his little fucking trumpet. Big Deal, says the boy.’”
Poet and editor David Howard co-founded Takahē (1989) and the Canterbury Poet’s Collective. The writing of his last book, Rāwaho: the Completed Poems (Cold Hub Press, 2022) has been supported by several residencies around the world, including Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University and UNESCO City of Literature Residency in Prague. He has also held fellowships in Russia and Croatia.
HUB DIRECTOR JOHN CRANNA'S BLOG
My grandfather Darcie: thwarted murderer ...
My grandfather was a man inclined to direct speech. So when he issued instructions for the murder of his wife, he didn't beat around the bush.
Some men might have said: 'Son, I've been reflecting for some time on the state of my marriage, the conjugal and other responsibilities I feel my wife is disinclined to discharge, and on reflection, after due consideration and some consultation with other interested parties, I've decided to do away with her.'
Start Date: Wed 9 Mar, 6pm to 8.30pm. Six weekly classes (anytime Online)
Have a go! This course is intended to introduce you to the skills and techniques that make story-telling so enjoyable. You might already keep a journal, or have written some poetry or short stories, but would like to discover the tools professional writers use to make their work publishable. If so, this course is for you. Graduates receive a 10% discount on our 30 Week Fiction Course. Taught by Creative Hub director John Cranna. More detail ...
30 Week Fiction / Memoir Course
Start Date: 6-9pm, Tues, 20th Sept, 2022 (anytime Online)
This course is for those who want to write a novel, short stories, or a memoir / autobiography. We provide a fun and stimulating environment in which you can discover your authentic writing voice. Many graduates of this course have published books, some in London and New York. It is chaired by John Cranna, Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. More detail ...