Monday, March 5, 2012

Tuesday Poem: The Tenderness of Light (my new book)



Mary McCallum
1. The Tenderness of Light
poetry, signed limited edition of 100 books. Six poems.28 pages. Garamond font on uncoated 100 gsm Munken paper with flax photograph on Gilclear insert, 240 gsm Munken cover, and hand-sewn linen thread binding. $15 



This is how The Tenderness of Light is written up in the catalogue of the Fringe Festival exhibition Translucent Landscapes which opened on Thursday March 1.  


At 5.30 pm that night, a hundred or so people crowded into the abandoned optometrist's premises on Ghuznee Street to celebrate the work of our 'pop-up' community of nine visual artists, one composer and myself. 







The artists and their work: installation art, photography, oils, drawings, videomedia and more, were there to interact with and enjoy (see end of blog for images), and at the appointed time, I stood in front of the gathering and read The Tenderness of Light in its entirety! After that, Iain Gordon's composition Ice was performed with him on mandolin, my son Paul on guitar and Slava Fainitski on violin. 


Gorgeous. All of it. And not just the art or poems or music that were out there in front of people, but the community we'd formed - the work we'd done together to get the exhibition up and running, and the work we'd done in our own discipline that bounced off everyone else's work, in one way or another, and off the place itself. We are all in awe of curator Helen Reynolds who made it happen. 









 


I sold about 20 copies of my book that night, and each sale was an unexpected and unbelievable gift. In all the writing and designing and printing and handbinding, I hadn't thought what it would be like for someone to open Tenderness and read it and want to keep it, or for someone to hear me read and want to own the poems to read again. Yes, I've sold fiction, but this is different - far more personal, an offering of self. Perhaps, too, because I've waited so long for this. 


Of course my lovely family and friends bought the book without even so much as opening it - and thank God for those people, how could a writer or artist exist without them? - but I was deeply touched when I stopped reading
and a man who owns a barn in the Tararua foothills brought a copy of Tenderness to me to write his name in it (they're already signed). He said my poems about the Wairarapa - just over the hill from him - spoke to him and encouraged him to write. Then there was the elderly woman who squeezed my hand when she took the book from me, and the violinist in the trio who clutched a copy to his chest as he left. The next day a woman with flame red hair bought a copy to send to friends in San Francisco, because she wanted something New Zealand. 




The Translucent Landscapes exhibition is on at 75 Ghuznee Street, Wellington from March 1-22, open daily 11am -6 pm. Free entry. The Tenderness of Light is available there or you can email makaropress@gmail.com to order a copy from me direct. 


















Below are some photos from the exhibition, but first here is my lovely team of bookbinders who worked away like elves into the night. 
That's me, grinning away at the back with dark hair and pale shirt, on my left (going round the table) Alexandra, Carrie, Helen (the host and bookbinder extraordinaire wearing the red shawl), Issy (my daughter), Fifi, Ayliffe, Heather. 



Legs by Poppy Lekner from her Lightness of Being series
Installation by Kath Joyce-Kellaway
Clouds by Helen Reynolds
Video by Mike Ting 






13 comments:

Gondal-girl said...

congratulations Mary - looks gorgeous x

Helen Lowe said...

Congratulations, Mary!

Bill M said...

Congratulations! Very nice work.

Mary McCallum said...

Oh thank you! It was a real challenge - terrifying at times - fun too (especially the bookbinding bee). So cool to do it as part of an exhibition ...

Janis said...

Looks stunning, Mary! I'm looking forward to seeing your book in real life.

Kathleen Jones said...

Congratulations Mary! it looks brilliant. You're right about the poetry being more personal - odd isn't it? You feel it's much more yourself you're putting out there.
The art work looks good too. wish I was there!

Helen Reynolds said...

Mary was amazing at the exhibition - not only is the poetry truly beautiful, but Mary herself was generous, enthusiastic and organised. She was not only writing poetry and helping with so much of the exhibition but also has so many other fabulous projects on the go - I have learnt what a powerful and giving woman you are in the course of Translucent Landscapes.

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Congratulations, Mary - book looks amazing - how interesting to be part of a broader artistic collaboration. So the proof reading was up to scratch?

Claire Beynon said...

Beautiful, beautiful - tactile and elegant. Congrats, dear Mary xo

T. Clear said...

So beautiful, Mary! I love these collaborative projects. Congratulations!

Heather said...

Mary read the poems so beautifully at the opening. And I have just been enjoying dipping back into them again tonight. Am leaving on my coffee table for casual re reads. Heather

Elizabeth Welsh said...

Mary, the book looks (and, I bet, reads!) beautifully - you must be over the moon! And how amazing to be able to read the collection in its entirety to your avid listeners. The photos truly show the collaborative effort that went in - what a wonderful community :)

Andy McCallum said...

To my wonderfully talented sister. Yet again you show the world how very clever you are. Although sometimes I do wish that you had not taken ALL the artistic genes from Mum and Dad...well done and big hugs. How can I get a copy? Love from the Aussie McCallums.