Meet our September Author: Rosetta Allan
When: Wednesday 28 September, 7.00 – 8.00pm (TBC)
Where: Online – click the Zoom link below.
Join us to meet the awesome Rosetta Allan at an online shared reading event at the end of the month! Rosetta will read from her work and we will all have an opportunity to reflect and respond together as we go along.
Rosetta Allan is an award-winning writer who spent her formative writing years developing strengths in the area of poetry. Her work is widely anthologised, and she has published two volumes of poetry and three novels. Allan graduated from the University of Auckland Masters of Creative Writing programme with First Class Honours for the manuscript that became her second novel, The Unreliable People (2019). In 2019, Allan took up the University of Waikato’s Writer in Residence to write her latest novel Crazy Love – her third release by Penguin Random House NZ, and her third novel to hit the top ten bestseller list. Allan currently serves on the board of the Crystal Arts Trust.
One of our readers had the revelation that in the poem “pink tutu” she was seeing her little self on the street! We talked about seeing our little selves in photos. Another reader was the smiliest person in the photos of his family! He said I must have been happy then!
In the last poem “Both Feet Walking” we liked the upside down tree whakapapa image! J. said she’s creating her own connections to nz because she doesn’t whakapapa here like tangata whenua do.J. also said the poem Maxmara reminded him of a statue of two people back to back sitting heads down hugging their knees.
I simply relished and still find myself cherishing the luxury we were afforded yesterday to slowly take a quiet dive into “Both Feet Walking” together with you Rosetta. Thank you Kate and The Reading Revolution for existing! What a gift for connection.
As a Greek woman having grown up in Athens in the 60s with parents who originated from Smyrna (refugees after 1920 war) and the north of Greece, and having lost both them and all our grandparents at a very young age, the words and rhythm of your poem surrounded me with an incredible sense of almost relief and comfort perhaps even? I think your words gave words to my own journey too. Our common humanity?
I grew up part in Greece part in the US and then ended up working internationally for 33 years on environmental justice and human rights issues. People from all over the world fighting for the rights of people and wild nature all over the word to exist in dignity. Our common humanity. Yet I also experienced incredible injustices that have occurred, are still occurring, in the name of “multiculturalism”.
To explain, in the 80s when I studied Cultural Anthropology at University in the US we were at the time defiantly celebrating the richness of multiculturalism. Then my experiences sailing on Greenpeace boats for 7 years brought me face to face with the heartbreaking effects of colonialism, the destruction of local cultures, indigenous people. The things that happened in the name of Christianity. Or Islam. Or western ideas of “development” and “growth”. I think what mostly shocked me in my travels were the horrific things that had happened to people and nature in the name of Christianity or “the white man”. To give you an example nuclear tests that happened in the Pacific happened almost always with a Christian priest going in first to tell the local people that these tests were going to be good for peace in the world!
I also remember, and we all due respect and love to all reading this, when I first sailed into New Zealand in 1995 after 2 1/2 months at sea from Gibraltar, I remember curiously and excitedly expecting to be welcomed by the indigenous people of these far flung islands in the south of the South Pacific. As a greek girl growing up in Athens I did not even know the Pacific existed! I was so excited to meet the people living down here. I cannot hide how surprised I was when we were welcomed by a whole bunch of white english looking people! Again with all due respect but after having just sailed down the ex-colonised (Spanish, French, Dutch, English) Carribbean and down the grand Pacific to get to New Zealand, I remember my first thoughts upon arrival being like “oh my gosh, did we white Christians go and take over every single place around this planet?! Even all the way down here?!”. So yeah. Cultural identity. The stuff of his incredible poem.
I also find I need to share that I happened to be living in Athens when the current refugee crisis started with at least 1,000 or more people from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa arriving, daily, on our shores. When Europe closed its borders I also experienced the cultural tension that inevitably arose from such strikingly different cultures (Islam, European) living so very close to each other long term. I was also in Europe when the first “home grown” terrorist attacks happened. So much tension.
To give you a very personal example. With all the love and compassion and understanding that we welcomed into Greece refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, in my work in the field, I progressively felt more and more uncomfortable both we how women were being treated but also how the women were treating their own girls. And whilst when we sailed on a Greenpeace ship through North Africa in the early 90s all women in our crew (there was 2 of us) covered our legs and arms out of respect whilst visiting Morocco or Tunisia or Egypt, now that people from Islamic countries were living in my own land I did not feel comfortable to somehow “allow” for the continuation of what I felt was the mistreatment of women. I felt like I wanted to say “I am awfully sorry but now that you are living in my land we do not accept women to be treated or to be brought up like this”. I obviously did not say anything like that. They were refugees! Fleeing war. I could not be that insensitive. But I felt it. I still do.
So what am I trying to say here? Written a while ago I believe this poem is such a poem of our times! Wish we could hold discussions based on this one poem in every farmers market around this country! From the exquisite rhythm in your writing, the images and feelings woven with your words, to the realisation that there is someone out there, you Rosetta, that has danced through and felt at times a similar sense of existential perhaps confusion, pain, sorrow, defiance and celebration. Thank you! And thank you Kate for doing all this. You, my friend, are a superstar!