Sunday, June 15, 2008

It was a Wednesday!

Wednesday turned out to be one of those, phew, survived that, days.

On the second Wednesday of each month I produce and host a radio show Write On for the Otago Southland Branch of the NZSA on Hills Am Community radio. I usually talk to a couple of local writers or book industry people, although have been known to throw in the odd international super-star. Please note the gratuitous fan shot with Ian Rankin, who I got to interview last year, much to the delight of Hugh, the station manager. "You're interviewing Ian Rankin! For us? Oh my god. You've got to get him to do us a sound bite."
Community radio rocks.

This Wednesday for June's episode of Write On I had a lovely chat with Penelope Todd, who's book Digging for Spain I've reviewed and loved, and Emma Neale who has recently released her collection of poetry Spark and an anthology of poetry she has edited, Swings + Roundabouts.

On the Tuesday I'd received a phone call from Charlotte, the producer for Channel 9 Television's Dunedin Diary programme, to say, um, er, Vanda, everyone's pulled out sick, can you do book reviews tomorrow? No prob Charlotte. Gulp. Thank heavens I had some books I'd already read up my sleeve.

So here are my notes for my three minute slot with Dougal.

Swings + Roundabouts: Poems on Parenthood.
Edited by Emma Neale.

Parenthood and its demands is a commonality we all share. Whether or not we have had our own, all of us are someone's child and know what those special relationships bring. Emma Neale undertook the huge task of compiling an anthology of poetry on parenthood from submissions from poets in New Zealand and Australia, as well as selected poems she'd come across as a reader and lover of poetry.
Having children brings with it love, joys, fears, incredulous moments and lots of attitude and I thinks Emma's collection represents well the whole spectrum of emotions. And its not just poems about babies, but also older children, teenagers, adult children and even reversals - an adult child having to look after their parent. I think there's something there for everyone.
The book also contains photographs by Mark Smith which add beautifully its overall mood.
I think this is a real, honest collection that expresses the good, the bad, the sad and the amusing. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys poetry and also those who enjoy reading about family and relationships.

The Business of Documentary Filmmaking
by Claudia Babirat and Lloyd Spencer Davis

This is a pretty specialised book on the topic of Documentary Filmmaking, which I don't do, but I found fascinating and think the principles it talks about translate into most artistic forms of endeavour. It is what it states: a book on the business of documentary filmmaking. Not how to write or create a documentary, but how to cope with the practical aspects of it, and written by people who have been doing it successfully for years.
As such it is very down to earth and useful, talking about approaching filmmaking as a business; planning, budgeting, funding, business plans - all those horribly unromantic, but essential things a budding filmmaker needs to do. It demonstrates clearly that it's hard work, and you need passion and commitment. It contains case studies of successful people in the industry, which adds that inspiration edge to the book, but basically it is a solid, practical New Zealand guide which if you've even contemplated filmmaking, you must read.


Grant said...

I don't suppose there are any plans to make Write On available as a podcast? It sounds like an excellent show, but I don't think the AM signal reaches all the way up here to Auckland :)

Vanda Symon said...

Hi Grant,

Hills AM is working on the technology, so yes, hopefully, soon.
Oddly enough, the ole AM signal has its limitations.

Unknown said...


Your blog came up as I was looking for folks with an interest in Documentary Filmmaking, and I thought you might be interested in First Person Arts’ Impressions competition. It includes a competition for short documentary films (under 5 minutes) and 1500 word memoirs, but the documentary photography competition calls for 1-5 images. Check out the competition website here: and find out more about First Person Arts, a Philadelphia non-profit dedicated to memoir and documentary art, at

We’ve got some excellent judges, and the winning entries will get some very nice exposure, not to mention a little cash. It would be great if you could post about this on your blog and/or pass it around to your friends or writers groups. If you send me a note, I’ll happily forward you a flyer. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks,