I didn’t quite no what to expect, having never been to the venue (the Nau Mai room at Te Puni Kokiri), and not having spoken to Pip since we both did the MA in Creative Writing at Vic in 2006 (though we were in different classes). When I arrived just before six, the crowd was spilling out the entrance to TPK and onto Lambton Quay. There was bar in the foyer, and another in the main room, though it was so packed I didn’t notice this one until after the speeches. It was quite a crowd: writers and publishing people, gang members (past and present) and their families, pupils in school uniform, and a slew of other, harder-to-pin-down people.
When I saw a dozen or so women seated either-side of the podium in addition to Pip, it was clear this was more than just a book launch. It was a celebration of the lives detailed in the book: the women of the Aroha Trust, a 70’s work collective for women with gang connections; it was a politically charged event (you can read Tariana Turia’s speech here); but most of all it was an event. I counted no less than nine speeches, each were followed by a waiata (often decided on the spot). There was a camera crew from Maori TV taping everything, and apparently there will be something on CloseUp in the coming days (in addition to coverage in North & South, Mana, and Radio NZ leading up to the launch and the reviews which will following in the coming days).
Quite an evening.
I dutifully purchased my copy, and will no doubt post my something when I’ve finished reading Trust.
Montana Poetry Day today, and as I’m back in Palmerston North, I’ll be attending the launch of Tim Upperton’s debut poetry collection, A House On Fire, and the P.N. Library, 7 p.m.
No disrespect to Tim, but I suspect a smaller turn-out. Looking forward to it!