Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brickbats and bouquets

Today the public announcement of my project appeared in the press. Complex realities, as always, get shortened into a haiku which closely approaches nonsense. Here is an article in the Dominion-Post, the headline of which caused me to wince and close the paper quickly before I reopened it to read the article.

The article isn't so bad and gives some overall sense of what I am hoping to achieve.

Nevertheless I felt disquiet so decided to send the below letter to the Dominion Post. (I realise it makes me seem like a pantywaisted paid up member of the PC brigade...but I wanted to correct what I felt was an impression which could injure the project.)

Dear Sir, 
I winced this morning when I saw the inflammatory headline over the article referring to Kereopa Te Rau and my projected book 'Sparrow on a Rooftop'. I have just had the good fortune to be awarded the Michael King Fellowship and I felt there was a degree of cultural insensitivity in the headline, accompanied as it was a photo of Kereopa Te Rau, which would have given Michael King pause for reflection. My book hopefully will address some of the sensational feelings of the time when Kereopa Te Rau was caught and hanged but to reproduce a headline like ‘Writer on trail of historic Maori ‘Osama Bin Laden’  is to make it seem as if I echo the ugly sentiments of those Americans who were shown celebrating Bin Laden’s execution. It is not an emotion I share. I would like to make it clear that I wish to dissassociate myself from the headline - as I am sure any reader who perservered and read the article in its entirety would understand. 
Peter Wells

I had just pressed send when there was a knock on the front door.

A bouquet was being delivered...

So there you have it....my life at the moment....brickbats...bottles of wine...and bouquets...

I always remember Maurice Gee, the wonderfully sage NZ writer saying the worst thing a writer can have is nothing happening in his or her own life....or too much...

Now...I should get back to my footnotes for The Hungry Heart...but somehow I feel I need to go for a walk...I feel a bit dazed....


  1. Ugh, that is a truly sensationalist and cringe-worthy headline - good on you for sending a letter! The headline smacks of gutter journalism.

    Congratulations on being awarded the Michael King Fellowship. What a wonderful validation of your project and your work. Enjoy the wine.

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