Saturday, 15 October 2011

Dispatches from the 'Books' conference, Uni of Toronto - day 1

Today was the first day of a Book conference - yep, all kinds of things about books: publishing, writing, reading, e-books, etc etc. (Or, in the case of the paper I'm giving on Sunday, no books! - as in the crisis of Maori poetry where very very few are managing to get into print...)

I heard a really interesting keynote speaker talk about e-Books and the 'digital locks' and copyright issues... usually these talks put me into a digital sleep and lock my brain, but he was fascinating... he compared eBooks to CDs and the whole digital music phenomenon... and teasing out the parallel, as well as drawing on eBook-specific research, he argued that not putting a 'lock' on digital media actually discouraged piracy! Interesting.

Then I heard some people present papers... about feminist publishing, the very pretty books produced specific small publishing company in the US, the manifesto as a literary genre, and an illustrated Bible! A real mix.

This evening I came home and worked a little more on my paper for Sunday... especially now that I've got more of a feel for what people at this conference are interested in... and I find myself once again surprised (and then suprised I am still surprised by this kind of thing) to discover that Maori poets (along with many others, but I'm focussing on Maori poets here) continue to be ignored by most of the 'powers that be' in the NZ poetry scene... you want an example? Okay. In 2003, the anthology Whetu Moana came out... not only did it win the NZ Book Award that year for its category, but it contained no less than 25 Maori poets (and most of the poets had more than one poem in the collection). Very exciting! Well, you'd think so. And then you see that the Best New Zealand Poems collection that year selected exactly NONE of them as one of the top 25 poems of that year. Actually, of the ENTIRE anthology, one two (one by Karlo Mila and one by Sia Figiel; both outstanding poems and fabulous poets of course) were chosen. Like, seriously? Sure, BNZP is a bit of a self-congratulatory and insular members-only country-club kind of affair... but still, seriously?

See what I mean about a (poetry) revolution...?

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