I made my Whangarei debut this weekend reading at a poetry event at the Mokaba on the Town Basin. I was the youngest reader by some decades (and I'm no spring chicken myself). I was also in a small minority not reading rhyming verse. Gardens were a popular theme. There was one quite risque poem and some political satire. Almost no one read for too long. Despite (or perhaps because of) my handicaps of age and free verse I was very warmly received and invited to attend both of the monthly poetry groups that meet in Whangarei.
I couldn't help but compare it to the last open mike I read at in upper Cuba St, Wellington where the most memorable performers ranted explicitly at length about sex and drugs. I'm not sure where I fit into the New Zealand poetry scene but if I do have a niche I haven't found it yet. Happily in my experience, whatever the cultural context of such poetry events, they are overwhelming supportive and affirmative of every poet.
This was also the weekend of the Artisan's Fair which started at 7am. That is quite early when one has been partying it up with the Whangarei poetry scene the night before (and have to drive in from the wopwops). It was worth it though, much more successful than my previous market experience. The weather was perfect and I got a prime spot under a gum tree that occasionally dropped leaves artistically onto my table and next to a massage practitioner so that together we could create a little oasis of contemplative calm in the busy market.
The Optimistic Heart continued its golden run as my best seller in every situation, but the wee books I had made especially for the market did well also. There is one copy of 'Wavelets' left for sale- with coral on the cover ($15). The Houghton Bay book didn't do so well- I think the surfing Cook Strait joke probably doesn't make so much sense in the 'City of a Hundred Beaches' of endless warm waves. And, not surprisingly, the Boob Book got lots of attention and laughs. However, the only buyer for it has taken me up on my offer of barter and I am swopping her the book for a relaxation massage this afternoon- it seems kind of appropriate!