Tuesday, September 27, 2011

THE RELAXED CATASTROPHIST - an interview with Ian Wedde

Ian Wedde’s latest book is called The Catastrophe, but 2011 has been a good year for the newly Auckland-based novelist and poet laureate.

Is the move to Auckland permanent?
Insofar as we can ever know these things, yes.
Because of your long association with Wellington, I’d thought of it as your hometown. But you’re actually from Marlborough.
I was born in Blenheim and spent my early childhood there before my father’s accountancy work took the family to East Pakistan, as it was then known, and England. It was a mixture of circumstance and desire that made me move to Wellington in the mid-70s. My then-wife’s family lived there. My friend Alan Brunton, his partner Sally Rodwell and other members of the gang were living there. So it seemed like the place to be.
Your university years were here in Auckland, weren’t they?
In 1965-66, I lived in Wood St, Ponsonby, not far from where I’m living now. I still think Ponsonby is an agreeable part of the city, but it’s much changed from the 60s. Part of the attraction of the area back then was its cheapness. There was a fish shop run by Pacific Islanders that used to give us cast-offs and a butcher’s shop that would give us a pig’s head for nothing to make brawn.
I’ve heard you’re currently working on a book of essays involving themes of memory and “home”.
Yes, tentatively titled The Grass-Catcher. Memory is a fascinating thing. I guess it’s just part of being in my 60s now, but I find myself thinking a lot about places I’ve lived and family histories. This has nothing to do with nostalgia. It’s more about how one constructs a sense of self. I’m struck by how much in the present the recovery of memory is. I travel quite a bit on the Link bus. The views from the bus window are very much in the here and now, but scenes from the past keep pressing into mind. Many volumes of cognitive science and post-Freudian psychology have been written on the subject. There’s an endless whirlpool you could enter and never come out again. I’m just hoping to drive a modest spigot into it. 

Footnote:This is part of Iain Sharp's most interesting interview with poet laureate Ian Wedde which appears in the just-published October 2011 issue of Auckland city magazine METRO. 

Don't miss this issue of METRO, it is a cracker, full of great features - Jane Ussher's portrait series of the current All Blacks, Aucklanders looking at their favourite suburbs, restaurant reviews, seven pages devoted to books,(and that is not including the Wedde piece), the usual extensive guide to what 's on in Auckland, Metro's Best of Auckland 2011 and heaps more too. Great value at $9.75.

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