Thursday, October 07, 2010

Slip Stream - Paula Green - Launched in Auckland


In her brave, uplifting new collection, Slip Stream, poet Paula Green generously gives a personal account of a time three years ago when she was buffeted in the slipstream of an illness – breast cancer – from an initial mammogram through biopsy, operations and radiotherapy treatment to recovery.

Published for New Zealand Breast Cancer Awareness Month and launched at The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland on Tuesday evening, Slip Stream is a fluid, intensely felt story made up of untitled, short poems that chart time passing and seasons turning by procedures done, books read, appointments made, food cooked and dreams dreamed.

Wanting to write a book that translated her particular experience into poetry in ways that might be helpful for others going through similar experiences, Paula works through the questions everyone in her situation faces – how can life go on “as usual”; how can anyone reconcile a challenging experience against the continuation of everyday life?

And she finds answers in poetry and music; in lists and family love; and in small distractions and coping strategies – solving cryptic crossword puzzles, for example, the mock-clues of which are scattered through the poems

Though clearly deriving from Paula’s own experiences, Slip Stream is not a simple, therapeutic record of true happenings but a carefully crafted collection of poems after the fact.
I have not tried to make poetry out of my experience,” she says “but I have kept a diary like a scrap basket, just in case. Above all, I wanted the book to be a celebration of poetry.”

Paula’s editor Anna Hodge said, “Paula’s new book is an immensely generous account of being in the slipstream of an illness. It is full of small intimate details of resistance, from meals to walking to leaves to family life, to music and the way it holds you, to crossword puzzles and the books you’re reading and all the small things one might hold on to make a hard thing more bearable. Sharing this experience in words is an act of generosity.

“But I think it’s also important not to forget that while one aspect of this book is personal and confessional, it is also an intensely crafted piece of literature — by a skilled writer, who has presented us with the immediacy of days slipping past in anxiety or in worry or in hope, but has done so only through the deft manipulation of language and attention to what it can do.”

About the Author

Paula Green is a writer, reviewer and teacher who lives on Auckland’s West Coast with her children and partner, the painter Michael Hight.

She has published four solo collections of poetry with Auckland University Press as well as the collection she wrote with 50 children, Flamingo Bendalingo: Poems From the Zoo, for which Hight did the illustrations. She and Wellingtonian Harry Ricketts have just published 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry (Random House), a lively and accessible introduction to poetry celebrating its richness and variety in 85 poems and interviews with 25 poets.
Paula has published a number of children’s books, most recently the sophisticated picture book Aunt Concertina and her Niece Evalina (2009).

Slip Stream by Paula Green
Published by Auckland University Press
PB; RRP $24.99

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