Passionate about poetry and seeking guidance to write her own, Melissa Green embarked on a Masters program at Boston University in 1981 and immediately caught the attention of her teacher, Derek Walcott, and his friend the Russian Joseph Brodsky. Giants of American poetry and Nobel prize winners, they recognized in her a literary peer with an innate and dazzling talent.
In a parallel reality, Melissa was living a knife-edge existence, her life an unpredictable and embattled odyssey between poetry and despair, a pendulum-swing between fervent, luminous writing and sudden, ferocious bouts of suicidal illness. In a black shipwreck of a house, she hid away for years, caring for her demanding and difficult grandmother.
That she survives is our blessing; that she has retrieved poetry from the abyss is a timeless boon. As poet Zireaux writes: … having travelled to the outer reaches of human experience … with a fine-tuned lyre and Odyssean strength of purpose, Melissa Green reports her discoveries back home, in the language they demand.
In The Linen Way, Melissa walks the reader along the thin, perilous path between poetry’s affirmation of life and the unwelcome ghosts of hope apparently lost; a linen way, perhaps, but wrought also of fire and sulfur and the ironmonger’s hammer.
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Reviews of The Linen Way
Having tried it before, he swore he wouldn’t again: Martin Edmond was a reluctant taxi driver on the streets of Sydney — three times taking up a trade like Charon’s, ferrying souls to keep himself in writing time. In this essay he explores the history and challenges of the profession, carrying the good, the bad and the delinquent through the underbelly of Sydney. He describes his ambivalence, coping with tedium, with idiotic or unsavoury behaviour and with his own early disinclination to work as a servant; how he made an accommodation with himself, finding a parallel in writing — and ultimately transforming his practice, allowing him to serve his clients with a kind of grace:
“Thus it makes perfect sense to treat them as honoured guests; and to do all that is in your power to bring them safely, happily, perhaps even changed, to their destination.”
Edmond is the sort of writer that makes you feel smarter, more creative and more civilised simply for having read him. Landfall Review Online
Martin talks about his work.
Summer. A relentless rain falls — on the houses, on the cemetery, on the rotting boards of the pier.
Hector arrives in a small East Coast town along with the millennial rains. He is captivated by the elemental beauty of the swimmer Marama, the community's own Pania of the reef. Alongside his obsession grows disgust at the squalid violence of daily life around him.
Ten years later, Eric and his daughter wash up in the township. Eric needs to know what happened to his brother, but the community, unnerved by his resemblance to that other stranger, wants to leave the past submerged.
A finely calibrated story — deeply humane, and darkly uneasy.
Aaron Blaker's tale ... introduces an individual voice ... an emerging talent. Owen Marshal, in his introduction to Best NZ Fiction.
Aaron talks about The Siren. Aaron's website: www.aaronblaker.co.nz
Earle wants ‘more than anything in the whole entire universe to ride a roller coaster’ at the A&P show. At the same time he wants not to do the compulsive thing that takes him close, though never quite close enough, to bliss. Casting shadows over Earle’s hopes and fears are his father, Lloyd, and the man in the car that pulls up alongside, offering tickets for the show.
Margaretha dreads the ‘sweet zephyrs’ of spring that lure maids from the house where her husband labours over his ‘vats of stinking hell’ — seeking gold in urine. The new maid Hilda — ‘hot Hilda!’ — besides being a boon in a wintry bed harbours alchemical secrets of her own.
Lily’s mother sees shapeliness waiting to emerge from raggedy rosebushes, and from a gangly half-grown daughter. But a Saturday morning death and its awkward, bruising aftermath threaten the lovely forms.
Three stories that demonstrate the author’s verve and versatility, her keen eye and attentive ear.
Sue talks about The Happiest Music on Earth.
When Elena Bossi and Penelope Todd met in Iowa 2007, their default language was laughter. Penelope's Spanish was paltry; Elena's English was picturesque. Nevertheless, on parting, to sustain their friendship, they agreed to write a novel together in alternate chapters (and letters), each in her own country and language. In 2009, they met in Argentina to polish the translations of their story. Amigas presents both English and Spanish versions in one edition.
2009: in Argentina, a woman prepares to travel to Italy for a funeral. In New Zealand, two friends discuss art, loss, and how to accept life as it plays out.
1969: a girl from New Zealand and another from Argentina are stranded in the airport in Rome. A friendship is forged and they exchange letters for a decade, until events take a sinister turn during Argentina's 'dirty war'.
2009: again in the airport in Rome, cancelled flights throw together two women whose lives have intersected in unexpected ways.
The hidden threads of these friendships are drawn deftly together.
Amigas is a story of female friendships, how they are forged, how they endure across time and geography, how they stimulate and sustain.
The prose is cogent, clear and often shot through with silken lyricism. There is resonant, evocative work here that leaves a long emotional contrail in the reader. —Emma Neale
Read excerpts in English.
Read excerpts in Spanish.
Internationally-acclaimed anthropologist and poet Michael Jackson travels his natal New Zealand, reflecting on the idea of origins. Visiting old haunts and old friends, he ponders the hold our histories have over us, and the enduring power of our first experiences in life. Jackson reflects on the ways we tell our life stories, write our national histories, assign value, allocate blame, and determine cause. His recurring theme is the tension between the forces that shape us and our freedom to take our destiny into our own hands.
Skillfully blending ethnography, history, philosophy, literature and personal reflection, he asks what it means to call a place or a time one’s own.
“Although our lives may not transcend our origins, we seem to need to believe that this is possible, as in the myth of Maui who sought to return to the womb and be born again.”
… exact, resonant and moving; beautifully wrought. Martin Edmond, Dark Night: Walking with McCahon.
Read Chapter Two
Whimsical, intense, pensive or amorous — we bring you a love story for every mood, each a little unorthodox, mysterious, or slightly peculiar.
Slightly Peculiar Love Stories paint a grand mandala of experience and circumstance: love appears and disappears; it aches and it dares; amuses and amazes; hurts, heals and begins again.
Love preoccupies writers from New Zealand, Israel, Hong Kong, Argentina and Athens, the UK and the US. Their 26 stories have been selected and edited by Penelope Todd.
Learn more about our slightly peculiar writers here and on the Rosa Mira Books blog.
Read excerpts now, from some of our wonderful writers.
Finalist in the Utah Book Awards 2012
What becomes of a woman who strives to live by her own vital principal, to find and embrace her own ‘electrical’ impulse?
Young Chjara Vallé, full of irrepressible music and sensuality, is exiled from her Corsican homeland, sold as a servant to an opium addict in Paris. Music paves the way for her to flee with Henry, her love, to New England. There the new freedoms and Puritan vigor vie for ascendancy. What will the Americans make of this throat-singing, harmonica-playing exotic who lives to make a virtue of pleasure?
Read excerpts now, from the first chapter and from chapter 7.
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View the video trailer.
Reviews of The Glass Harmonica
More about Dorothee