Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tauranga Arts Festival 13, Inside the Crystal Palace with Steve Braunias.

Last Saturday and Sunday, I went to the Tauranga Arts Festival, mainly to see and hear my favourite author, Steve Braunias and to ask him to sign my books.


I have three of  them; How to Watch a Bird, Smoking in Antarctica and Civilisation. They now contain the words,  To Janet, FondlySteve Braunias, To Janet, on a lovely, Tauranga Day, Best wishes Steve and To Janet, very fond regards, Steve.


It's a curious feeling being a fan from a-far. I feel like I know him so well yet he barely knows I exist. He has thousands of devoted followers, so I’m not rare.

To quote Sandra Simpson, co-organiser of the Tauranga Literary Festival and prominent  haiku writer, "No-one else in New Zealand writes like him, he is unique.”


Steve is a bird watcher and chooses not to drive.

I used to have dreams about meeting him at the Rotorua bus station, so that I could transport him out to Wingspan to see the flight of the Raptors at 2.30pm with Debbie, Noel and Andrew.
 I'd even be prepared to clean  my car out, because I know he’s a neat and tidy person.

  I emailed him once with an invitation but I didn’t hear back, so I gave up because I didn’t want to appear like a crazed stalker.

I sometimes cut out his stories and stick them up on my cork board above my computer to remind myself to keep on writing and having adventures.

I like his stories partly,  because of his poetic  choice of words.

His  writing tone can be sardonic which makes him a bit scary when you want to approach him for an autograph.  

But in person he is kind and sensitive.

His latest award winning book, Civilisation, Twenty Places on the Edge of the World, contains a story about Rotorua, called Ohinemutu and Whakarewarewa, how to cook a fish head.

This is my favourite passage in it ... "And then the audience was told the love story of Hinemoa and her lover Tutanekai, how she swam across Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island to be with him.
When the story finished a young man and a young woman sang Pokarekare Ana. The audience went completely quiet. They were entranced by the beautiful, slow song, the beautiful crystalline singing. I wept. I stood in the sunshine, wanting to rub the music and the smell of sulphur into my skin, to have it always, to keep some trace of the rare loveliness of the moment".

I've followed  him in a literary sense for at least fifteen years since he was writing for the Listener. I trailed after him to the Sunday Star Times and then to the back of the Canvas magazine.
Now he's at Metro Magazine and the Sunday Star Times where he writes the  hilarious Secret Diary series.
His stories are always the first that I turn to.

 He is a person who often examines the lives of people who are on the fringes of society  and who have a quiet dignity. 
He appreciates the humble and at times celebrates the exalted, especially if they remain humble.   

 When meeting a person who inspires me like that it's important work out what to do with new found knowledge I have gained on what ever i think they have to teach me.

I took a lot of notes from his interviews during the festival and I am going to write them out to examine them for clues. 

Travelling on the train from Hamilton to Wellington  while writing on my I-pad, will be one adventure I will be planning, I just have to finalise my dates. 

 My time away in Tauranga was one of the best, adventures I've had this year.
So thank you to Sandra and the team for fantastic organisation.
 I will be back next time and for longer.

Creative Quote of the Week
Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Mosaic and painting classes Monday to Wednesday mornings for adults.
After school Art and Mosaic Classes, phone 346-3435. janetkeen.blogspot.com

To be continued with my writing revelations.

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