Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Itchy feet

Last night I got to enjoy one of those delicious winter evenings of wine, food and fine company. Eighteen of our Otago Southland NZSA branch members snugged into Martha Morseth's lounge to listen to the travel escapades of local writers Penelope Todd and Jackie Ballantyne.

Normally the thought of looking at someone's holiday snaps would have people running for the hills, or at least making polite excuses for an early exit, but knowing we would get to hear from two talented story tellers had people out in droves.

One of the perks to being Chair of the boy's school PTA is being able to borrow their data projector and screen, and it meant we were able to enjoy to great pics as well as the tales from the writers. It was a visual and aural treat.

Penelope's talk was themed around the writer's residencies she had enjoyed, and the contrasts between them. From the unstructured and slightly chaotic Can Serrat Residency, in Spain, to the brief, but wonderful time at the Chateau de Lavigny International Writers’ Residency in Switzerland, to the mildly more challenging Iowa International Writers' Residency. Some of the international writers Penelope befriended had endured much political uncertainty, persecution, and even for some, imprisonment for their art. We all came away with a sense of how fortunate we are in New Zealand and how cushy we have it. It was a fabulous talk and has me trying to figure out how I could manage residencies and family at this time in my life. I highly recommend Penelope's book Digging for Spain, in which she talks about her time in Spain, and much, much more.

Jackie Ballantyne had her first novel How to Stop a Heart from Beating published last year - I loved it, it's another must read. Her second book, which she is feverishly working away on is set in the land of the Tango and the Gaucho, and this is what Jackie entertained us with - tales of her research trip to Argentina. And yes, she tangoed and ate empanadas enjoyed lots of wine and marveled at the Argentinian fascination with soccer, meat, decorated cemetaries and the Catholic Church.

It was a fabulous evening, and I came away thinking, man, my life is dull! Many, many years ago BC (before children) hubby and I decided to embark on our OE, and we saved up, poured over the brochures and planned our travels... and then we saw a house. We were sensible, and brought the house. It's nights like last night that I mutter about being so very, very sensible.

Ah well, our day will come... Best I write and sell more books... lots of books.

1 comment:

Hugh Macmillan said...

An OE. You don't hear people talk about that much any more - and I've only been here 6 (six) years.

The captcha word verification thingummyjig is very long today 8 (eight) letters. Maybe it has always been this way.

Nice to see the sun again.