Monday, February 20, 2012

Writing Workshop, Unwin Lodge, Mount Cook Village, June 21-25

The New Zealand Alpine Club has asked me to run a writing workshop in June as part of the Unwin Lodge Autumn Arts Workshops.

The cost is $700 per person, including accommodation, dinners and transport between Christchurch and Mount Cook if required. A maximum of eight participants will be accepted, and they must be NZAC members. This is a good opportunity for those keen on improving their writing skills, define where they want to head with their writing, or work towards getting their writing published.

Those interested should contact Pat Deavoll at NZAC for a registration form:

Below is some more information on the course:

‘They told me that writing is 95% rewriting. They lied. Try 99.99999%. Be prepared for the best, and worst, relationship you’ve ever had with your inner self!’

This workshop is focussed towards writing about the outdoor environment, how we see it, feel it and interact with it. Writers can be either novices or experienced, but should come with an open mind, spare pens, the biggest Thesaurus they can find and lots of questions.

After covering what constitutes ‘good’ writing, Paul will encourage course participants to search for their own writing style, or ‘voice’, and avenues for expressing this voice. By the end of the course, each participant should be able to identify suitable writing topics, processes and self-critiquing techniques to improve their writing. Paul is happy to explore different writing genres (ie. creative, short-story, novel, journalism, fiction, non-fiction) depending on the needs of participants.

Topics will include (but are not limited to):
1. What constitutes ‘good’ writing? Should we even care?
2. Why write? What are our reasons and aspirations?
3. Opening our eyes to the world: How and where to start the writing process?
4. Without an engine, the car goes nowhere: Exploring the rather dry, but essential ‘mechanics’ of writing.
5. Writer’s block: Is there a pill to take?
6. Rule number one: Critique, critique, critique. How do we do this? Learn how to love, and hate, our own work.
7. The writer’s ‘voice’: What makes our work unique?
8. The big bad world: What to do with the end result, or the reality of publishing and how to go about it.

Course participants should bring new best friends – Thesaurus, dictionary, laptop, pens and notebook – along with a piece of previous writing to analyse, a favourite outdoors book (be prepared to argue why), sturdy shoes or boots and suitable clothing for outdoor inspiration walks. The course will incorporate both group sessions and one-on-one interaction.

Paul Hersey is a Christchurch-based author and climber. A former newspaper journalist, Paul has had three books published on outdoor topics, and another set for release in 2013. His work has also featured in New Zealand Geographic, North and South, New Zealand Climber and Wilderness magazines, and articles are due to appear shortly in upcoming issues of Alpinist and Surfer’s Journal. More information on Paul’s writing can be found on his blog

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Te More - album by Whirimako Black and Richard Nunns

After hearing a small portion of this on National Radio, I raced out and bought the album. And I absolutely love it!

I'd describe the music as traditional Maori vocals - moteatea, or chants - along with early instruments. The result is both haunting and fully engaging. Released in 2011, the album Te More has been described as 'beautifully evocative and emotional', and I fully agree.

Prior to European contact, moteatea and waiata were considered essential for carrying knowledge for Maori through oral culture. This selection of moteatea are from the Tuhoe iwi, as well as pieces composed by Whirimako and Richard in the moteatea tradition. The work incorporates selections from early Tuhoe composer Mihi-Ki-Te-Kapua. Mihi-Ki-Te-Kapua was considered the greatest composer of the Tuhoe and Mataatua peoples.

While each moteatea deals with different stories, for me the music invokes feelings of remote landscapes forever trapped in mist. There is solitude, and loneliness. The use of taonga puoro, or traditional Maori instruments, adds to the haunting nature of it.