I’m not sure that ‘Poet Wins’ is an appropriate theme for this post, considering what eventuated before, during and after my recent visit to Wellington, but I’ll stick with it for now.
The coloured bow was a good sign after I finally arrived at my sister’s place on the Kapiti Coast. As described in my previous post, ground fog at Dunedin’s Momona airport had already caused a day’s delay in my arrival plans.
I was keen to check out my sister’s new additions to her brood of chooks.
The garden and livestock on my sister’s lifestyle block have all slowed down for winter. She tells me that the hens will start laying again two weeks after the shortest day (although one has started already, which may be due to the added protein she’s been giving them in the form of chopped up cat food.)
Next day it was back into Wellington city for two nights at two different hotels (just the way it worked out with booking more economic stays).
On Thursday there was the talk at Victoria University about Joni Mitchell and her influence on my life / writing.
I have written something of a transcript of this talk on my page, Through This Year With Joni.
The people who came to listen, appeared to enjoy what David Lisik (senior lecturer in jazz composition at Victoria University) and I (lowly southern poet) had to say about the fusion between language / writing, music and fame, and where they converge and / or part company.
Lovely to meet the organiser of this talk, Dougal McNeill, who was a charming host – baking a cake! especially for the occasion of Joni’s 50th anniversary of the release of Blue – and after the talk, walking with me in order to show me the way back down to Cuba Street via a secret set of magical, surreal even, steps that wind all the way down into the city centre via a very Wellington-y gully.
On Friday night there was a poetry reading at the Victoria Press rooms on Kelburn Parade, organised by Nick Ascroft and featuring himself, Richard Reeve, Pip Adam, Jenny Powell, Jo Randerson and myself.
Our reading – the first of two readings Nick is organising along the same vein, his iconoclastic flair and zany humour part of the package deal – was well attended. In fact the room begged for stretchy elastic walls in order to make room for everyone. I recognised most of the people there as writers whose poetry and writing I much admire. Really sad I can’t go to the second reading (dare I risk another flight to Wellington? I think not!) However, it does feel like unfinished business.
Then for two days, it was back out into the peace of the countryside again with my sister.
Then on the Monday morning after this whirlwind visit (and here, an apologetic aside – sorry not to have had time to meet up with other Wellington friends and extended family) it was homeward bound – or so I thought.
However, south of Christchurch, the plane (on a flight that was already delayed by two hours) went into a holding pattern, hoping for the foggy conditions at Dunedin airport to clear. But alas no. Nothing for it but to turn back for Wellington.
This necessitated an extra night in another hotel in Wellington – one with a very strange placement of the shower control. Took me some time to find it among the Escher-like wall tiles.
Arrived home to the announcement the next day of a Covid case having visited Wellington from Sydney. Wellington was to go into Level Two.
It was fortunate for me that I hadn’t been in the city over the weekend and that my sister and I didn’t budge from her place on the Kapiti Coast. However, because my Monday morning flight out of Wellington was delayed and I decided to buy a cup of coffee, it placed me in the airport food court at the same time as the Covid case was in the airport food court. I was therefore designated as a casual contact and needed to self isolate at home, watch for signs of illness and get a test on day five.
All of which I did and happy to report that the test result was negative for the covid virus.
My friend Jenny Powell’s book launch for her poetry book Meeting Rita, had to be postponed. I’m sure that just quietly we both wonder if we should each get ‘Why Me?’ T-shirts. (However, that can always be countered with the famous Buddhist rejoinder; ‘Why Not?’)
This self-isolation also meant that I was forced to stay isolated for my birthday. But beautiful flowers, a gift basket and calls from the family along with well wishes from friends, got me through.
One of the calls was a video call from our son in Berlin who took Robert and I for a bit of a video tour around the place where he works – Berlin’s Jewish cemetery; 100 acres and full of trees and wildlife such as foxes, snakes and racoons. But that’s another story.