This Blog Fest is a collaborative web initiative in anticipation of the Frankfurt Bookfair in October, where New Zealand is the Guest of Honour.

In these pages we’re highlighting Kiwi and German writers in 2012 and creating a space for interested readers and bloggers to connect and share related posts. If you are a Kiwi or German living anywhere in the world, or if you are from somewhere else but have settled in New Zealand or Germany, we want to hear from you.

This blog fest is a celebration across geographic and temporal boundaries and an ongoing conversation. From Kiel to Kaitaia: please join us! Here you’ll find:

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Highlight: Deniz Utlu in translation

For this special highlight in our final highlight series this month, we have a collection of five “minimals from the belly of the beast” by the writer Deniz Utlu, translated by Aotearoa Affair contributor Katy Derbyshire.

Translator Katy Derbyshire tells us a little about the work:

This piece is taken from the 2011 anthology Manifest der Vielen, Deutschland erfindet sich neu —  which was a response to the rising tide of racism in Germany in the wake of Thilo Sarrazin‘s non-fiction book Deutschland schafft sich ab [ed: ” the most popular but also widely criticised book on politics by a German-language author in a decade… denounces the failure of Germany’s post-war immigration policy, sparking a nation-wide controversy about the costs and benefits of the ideology of multiculturalism.” Source here.]

In his piece, Deniz imagines what Berlin might be like in the year 2048, without the migrants who make the system work, and he takes issue with the fact that he and others are labelled from birth as people with a “background of migration” — while still conjuring up a utopia free from associations.

Foto: Marianna Salzmann

Author Bio: Deniz Utlu, born in Hannover in 1983, studied in Berlin and Paris. He is now a freelance writer in Berlin, where he edits the magazine for culture and society “freitext” and curates various literary events series. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers and anthologies, including the high-profile Manifest der Vielen, ed. Hilal Sezgin. His play Tod eines Superhelden premiered at the Ballhaus Naunynstraße in 2011.

Translator Bio: Katy Derbyshire is a London-born literary translator who has been in Berlin since 1996. She translates various contemporary German and Swiss writers, including Inka Parei and Dorothee Elmiger, Clemens Meyer, Simon Urban, Helene Hegemann, Sibylle Lewitscharoff and Tilman Rammstedt. Katy writes a blog about German-language literature by the name of love german books.

[Ed note: Derbyshire’s latest translation projects can be find here at Words Without Borders and her notes on the Frankfurt Book Fair, which she shared in our latest Blgo Carnival, can be found here.]


2048: Minimals from the belly of the beast
Seven Seconds
Perhaps it’s really only seven seconds.
            We see the light of the world. We’re naked.
Not black, not white, not workers, not professors, not clever, not stupid.
            No back-ground of mi-gra-tion. We are. For seven seconds we are. Seven seconds of silent being, seven seconds free.
            And then.
            A doctor holds us in his hands, a midwife, a nurse, a mother. They look at us.
            They speak to us. They hand us on.
            Even the first gaze that meets us, the first touch, tells a story. And the fall begins.
            There was a time, a tiny time before. Before the fall. How did it feel? How long did it last?
            Two seconds? Seven? A day?
            How long did it take before it was normal, before something was different?
            They train us.
            They retrain us.

Everything gets a name, everything gets a time. The thirtieth year.
            The fortieth year.
            Caesurae in a life.
            Put your napkin on your lap while you eat.
            Avoid unpleasant silences.
            Work. By day and by night. Read books. Learn formulae. Make phone calls. Mail.
            Don’t. Let yourself. Be distracted. Anything. But. That.
            Always straight ahead, always clear, always thick-skinned.
            How thick is it after seven seconds?
seven years, after seventeen, twenty-seven?
            Sorting out. What’s needed, what’s not? What slows us down, what speeds us up?
What serves as a springboard, what is a burden?
            Don’t look at where it hurts. That. Might. Distract. You. And. We. Don’t. Want. That.
            Don’t feel. Don’t listen: how does the child’s breathing sound before the seventh second?

Spandau 2048
I’m driving through Spandau. Here and there, paint flakes off the facades – cement stains are the contours of unknown lands. The streets are quiet. The only sound is the wind.
            The branch of a tree has broken through a window and grown into the house. A few of the streetlamps and traffic lights have fallen over. The asphalt is cracked where they lie. The few cars on the sides of the roads have broken windows and flat tyres. Crutches, zimmer frames, walkers and tartan shopping trolleys lie scattered, bent, broken and torn on pavements and roadways.

Many inhabitants turned their backs on the city. First young families moved to other parts of town, then to other cities and countries. Academics now only taught at overseas universities or in London and Istanbul. Berlin, like Brandenburg before it, was drained of its population. Critical and less critical voices had predicted it. Spiegel magazine, at the beginning of the century, had reported on the brain drain among intellectual migrants, as they were called at that time. There was concerned talk of an over-aging society. Who was to work, produce, to meet the needs of society, as they said, who was to make the pension payments? Politicians proposed raising retirement age higher and higher. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of potential working people hoped to be granted entry, on leaking boats on the Mediterranean – off Lampedusa, for example. Some of them made it to the mainland. A few were allowed to stay. Many drowned or disappeared in inexplicable ways. While the demographic concern grew in the cities, a paramilitary agency was employed to seal Europe’s borders. No entry.

I stop on Lynarstrasse behind a Golf VI with deformed tyres. The entrance door to the building – late nineteenth-century – that I’ve stopped outside has been torn off its hinges. I enter the building and walk up a few flights of stairs. An apartment door is open. Two rats are gnawing at a carpet, large patches are already missing. In the back room, a man is sitting in front of a TV. He’s wrapped himself in a blanket, on his lap a cup from which some kind of liquid must have spilled; all that remains is a brown stain. The man’s face: anaemic, white. Barely any hair left. His toothless mouth is open. I lean over and look into his grey eyes. He smells of old age, not of death. It can’t have been long since he died. Perhaps there are still people alive in the other flats, the other houses. No one has stayed here who could check. I make notes, close the man’s eyes. I leave the city.

Foamed milk
Spandau 2048: twenty-five years earlier, the father
(Fragment from a letter written by a professor of sociology in Germany in the first decade of the twenty-first century to future generations)

I lived – as we like to say – at the heart of the world, in Berlin. In fact I really did occasionally boost my enjoyment of a coffee-to-go by reminding myself of what an enviable privilege it was for me to lick the foamed milk off my moustache – the foam that had been previously so skilfully poured into the cup that the white dome opened out into a brown heart – in these streets, between these buildings, in this city, in these times when everything was in flux, before I devoted myself to my studies.
            Yet it was also precisely the time when many of my colleagues and I too were concerned about the intensification of certain continuities in German society, as we put it. Some of my colleagues plunged into the debate with all their energies. Others fell silent. They gave us a name. We accepted it. And so I found myself on the stages of literary venues, on the uncomfortable chairs of discussion panels, watching myself deliver speeches on the small monitors of public television magazine programmes.
They counted me as part of a nation that I’d considered a religion. They attacked me. They attacked us. Soon I began to order my coffee without foamed milk, and the heart of the world beat ever louder at me from the heart of darkness.

A colleague of the sociology professor after a discussion panel at a literary venue
The cat-calls. The cat-calls are still echoing in my ears. Voices. Barely faces. The stage lights were too dazzling for that. Silhouettes. Gestures. Hands rushing forwards as if they wanted to throw something at me. If only something were within reach: a glass, a bottle, a stone.

At first I tried to look unimpressed. To carry on regardless. Professionally, as they say. But every sentence I began was drowned out by the noise of the mob.

I’d been invited. In front of me: visitors to a literary venue. No. I hadn’t expected this. The cat-calls. The gestures. Not there.

Afterwards I got mails. Hate-mails. They wished a whipping on me. Me, a camel-fucker. It wasn’t down to my words, for I hadn’t been able to speak. They had put a gag on me.
Friends had already left the country. I stayed for the time being. I believed in it. Despite it all. I believed that speaking would one day be possible.

On frontiers
Up against boundaries, it takes creativity to cross them. That’s why new things often come about there, on the margins. The frontier guardians do all they can to combat it. It’s not enough.

Land in sight
I’m looking for a third something that’s inherent in everything.
            Mindland – with a population scattered across the world. Independent of local rites and norms. Of the legacies of our ancestors.

A parallel world, a solar system – with its own resources and its own power of definition of what is art and culture, of what should remain.

Something that’s invisible and omnipresent. Like a law, defended by a court that is active worldwide, that doesn’t hear proceedings in the courthouses but in attics and cellars. A law that has more validity for the individual than written-down and ratified constitutions defined and obeyed by judges and politicians.

A land whose frontiers are impossible to enter on a map because it has no fixed place. Invisible and everywhere at the same time. Unassailable. Immune to any attribution.
            A land that only stops existing when it’s no longer thought of.

International Book Fair Frankfurt 2012 – guest country New Zealand & more


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We said Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE was the last Blog Carnival, but when we saw the photos, links and updates from Frankfurt, we knew we had to put together one more carnival edition.

So we bring you a special addendum to the 2012 Blog Carnival series: a final Carnival which features reports from the Book Fair:



Below, in addition, some impressions from the book fair with extra photos:

Guest Country New Zealand at Frankfurt Book Fair

Like all guest countries, New Zealand had an own pavillion to present itself, in addition to the different book presentations in the book halls. Here are some impressions from the pavillion:

“while you were sleeping”
 inside the pavillion: the meeting area, and upstairs: the presentation area

New Zealand in the international hall

New Zealand in the Comic Centre of the Book Fair
And some general impressions from the book fair: 
books + books
and the Nobel Prize for Literature goes to… Mo Yan
(more here in an extra blog post: words, wars, books..)
Forum Discussions: E-Books (the neverending theme)
Open Air Reading Zone
Science Books

CERN at the Book Fair with the Higgs-Field + the 1. www-server, more here:
the beginning of the web: “vague but exciting”

E-Book Installation
Reading Tent
word cubes: to learn, to know, to explore
and: Gutenberg Museum at the Book Fair
Handmade Prints
Frankfurt Skyline

Highlight: Campbell Smith in German Translation


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Beate Jones has recently translated into German Campbell Smith’s play about the Waikato artist Margot Philips, This Green Land.

Campbell Smith and Margot Philips

We’re pleased that Beate and Campbell have agreed to share this with our readers, as this is the first appearance of the German translation anywhere. Here we bring you Scene 2, in which a young Margo meets a New Zealand soldier in Cologne for the first time.

The scene is in the original English and then is followed by Beate Jones’s German translation. At the end readers can enjoy biographical notes on Margot Phillips and Campbell Smith, as well as the translator Beate Jones.

from Cambpell Smith’s This Green Land


MARGOT: There were other soldiers. The Army of Occupation. Talked to one once. An “Anzac”, I

think? Different, from the British.


N.Z. SOLDIER: (TO AUDIENCE) Well, ‘ere we are. Bloody well stuck ‘ere in Germany! I should’ve been

half-way home, by now, instead we copped this, bloody lot. The Aucklanders, trust our luck, eh?

Stuck ‘ere on the banks of the Rhine, ‘ere in Cologne. S’truth there’s a bloody big river for ya, eh?

Use’ta go down to me cousin at Mercer. (WAVES TOWARDS RIVER) Well, this ‘ere Rhine’s five times

the size as the Waikato, eh? Aw, she’s a big bugger, eh? Some river, all right. S’truth, eh. Any rate,

‘ere we are. Just hangin’ round. Waitin’, eh. Yeah. (MOVES ABOUT) And the women? The sheilas? German! Oorh! Not “friendly”! You know? Not like those French tarts. Bit of all right there.

(CHUCKLES) Ye-ah, eh? No way! Well, we’re the enemy, I suppose. (SHRUGS) Still some of me

mates say – you know. Play it right! Ya can strike it, eh. (PATS HIS POCKETS) Half starved they are.

Do anything me reckon. For a bit of something. (SIGHS) Me? Never had much luck, that way. Still

never know, eh? (SHRUGS SHOULDERS)


MARGOT: One night on my way home, a soldier, he spoke to me. (GIGGLES) Me? Little Margot?

N.Z. SOLDIER: (VERY FLAT N.Z. SOUND) Gid-day, Fraulein.

MARGOT: Ooh. Me? Oh, Hullo…Soldier.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Ya, all right, eh?

MARGOT: Yes, I am well. Thank you very much.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Where ya from, Fraulein?

MARGOT: Orh, here. I live here.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Here, in this place? Orh. Cologne, eh?

MARGOT: (NODS SHYLY) Ja, Köln. You are from where, Soldier?

N.Z. SOLDIER: Me? Orrh, (CHUCKLES) Puke-ko-he, eh?

MARGOT: Puuukee-koo-ee, aa? Where would that be?

N.Z. SOLDIER: Orrh. Other end of the world, back of beyond, I guess.

MARGOT: You are a long way from home, Soldier?

N.Z. SOLDIER: Yeah. Not like you, eh, Fraulein. Like to go for a bit of a walk, eh? (OFFERS HIS ARM)

MARGOT: Orh, yes, that would be nice. Where to?

N.Z. SOLDIER: Anywhere eh? Down by the river. Nice night for it. I’ve got cigarettes.

MARGOT: (RECONSIDERS) Oh. Don’t think I’d better. Not down there… Thank you, Soldier, all the


N.Z. SOLDIER: (RESIGNED) Narh, it’s all right, Fraulein. Not if ya don’t want to, eh. (MOVE INTO THE

LIGHT) Yah not very old, eh?

MARGOT: Yes, I am about eighteen!

N.Z. SOLDIER: Orh, are ya. Eighteen, eh. Me sister at home. She be about that age now. I reckon. Yeah. Haven’t seen her for, orh…Just on three years now. Yeah, must be! Yeah, three years.

MARGOT: That is a long time, Soldier. To be away from your home.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Yeah, ’tis. Isn’t it. Bloody long time!


Would you like some chocolate?


N.Z. SOLDIER: Pretty good, eh?

MARGOT: Oooh! Haven’t tasted chocolate for years and years.


N.Z. SOLDIER: Nah, nah. Go on. Keep it, eh.

MARGOT: Oh, thank you, Soldier. But I cannot stay.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Yeah, that’s OK, Fraulein.


MARGOT: Been nice talking to you, Soldier.

N.Z. SOLDIER: Yeah, it has. Hasn’t it. Good bye. (EXITS)

MARGOT: (WATCHES HIM, CRIES OUT) Oh, Soldier? That place, what country? (REALIZING HE HAS GONE, SPEAKS QUIETLY) Are you from. (LOOKS AT CHOCOLATE. THE TEMPTATION IS TOO GREAT, TAKES IT OUT AND BREAKS OFF A TINY PIECE, EATS IT, SPEAKS TO AUDIENCE) Never told Mother. Little Margot Philips. A good German girl talking to a soldier from the other side of the world. But oh, that chocolate.


MARGOT: Es gab auch andere Soldaten. Die Besatzungsarmee. Hab mal mit einem geredet. Ich      glaube mit einem “ANZAC”? War anders als die Briten.


NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT : (ZUM PUBLIKUM) Tja, da sind wir. Sitzen verdammt noch mal fest in Deutschland! Sollt’n schon halbwegs zu Hause sein. Stattdessen sind wir hier gelandet, der ganze Haufen. Die Auckländer, mal wieder typisch für unser Dusel, was! Sitz’n fest am Rheinufer, hier in Köln. Heiliger Strohsack, was’n verdammt großer Fluss, was? Bin früher immer zu meinem  Kusäng nach Mercer gegangen (WINKT IN RICHTUNG FLUSS).Junge, Junge,  dieser Rhein hier iss fünfmal so groß wie der Waikato, was?

Ooooh ja, das is’n Riesentrumm, was? Was’n Fluss, Mann. Heiliger Strohsack! Jedenfalls sind wir jetzt hier. Lungern einfach herum und warten, was? Jaaah.(GEHT AUF UND AB). Und die Frauen? Die Weibsbilder?  Deutsch!  Och nee! Nicht “freundlich”! Ihr wisst schon! Nicht wie die französischen Flittchen. War schon gut da . (LACHT IN SICH HINEIN) Ja, ja, was? Hier nich’, auf keinen Fall! Tja, wir sind der Feind, denk ich mal. (ZUCKT MIT DEN ACHSELN).  Trotzdem – ein paar von meinen Kumpeln… Ihr wisst schon! Packs richtig an! Dann kannste Dusel haben, was.(KLOPFT AUF SEINE MANTELTASCHE). Die sind halbverhungert. Die machen alles, glauben die Kumpels… Für ‘n bisschen was zwischen die Zähne . (SEUFZT) Ich? Hab’ damit noch nie viel Dusel gehabt. Aber man kann ja nie wissen, was? (ZUCKT MIT DEN ACHSELN)


MARGOT: Einmal bei Nacht, auf dem Weg nach Hause, da hat mich ein Soldat angesprochen. (KICHERT). Mich? Die kleine Margot?

NEUSEELLÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: (Mit schwerem neuseeländischen Akzent) Gid-day’ Frollein.

MARGOT: Ooh, meinen Sie mich? Oh, Hallo, Soldat.


MARGOT: Ja, mir geht es gut, danke sehr.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT : Wo sind Se denn her, Frollein?

MARGOT: Ah, von hier. Ich wohne hier.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Hier? In dieser Stadt? Ah. Köln, was?

MARGOT: (NICKT SCHÜCHTERN MIT DEM KOPF) Ja, Köln. Wo sind Sie denn her, Soldat?


MARGOT: Puukeee-koo-hee, wa? Wo soll das denn sein?

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Ah, am anderen Ende der Welt, am Arsch der Welt, was.

MARGOT: Sie sind aber weit weg von zu Hause, Soldat?

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Jaaa, nicht wie Sie, was, Frollein. Möcht’n Se nen kleinen Spaziergang mit mir machen, was? (ER BIETET IHR SEINEN ARM AN)

MARGOT: Ah, ja, das wäre schön, wohin denn?

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Egal, was? Runter zum Fluss. S’iss ne schöne Nacht dafür. Ich hab Zigaretten.

MARGOT: (ZÖGERT) Oh, besser nicht. Dahin lieber nicht…Trotzdem, Danke, Soldat.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: (RESIGNIERT) Nö, schon gut, Frollein. Nich wenn Se nich woll’n, was. (GEHT MIT IHR UNTER DAS STRASSENLICHT). Sie sind wohl noch nich sehr alt, was?

MARGOT: Doch, ich bin schon um die achtzehn!

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: So, so, achtzehn, was? Meine Schwester zu Hause, die iss jetzt ungefähr auch so alt, glaub ich. Ja,ja. Ich hab se schon seit, ah, grade drei Jahren nicht mehr gesehen. Ja, muss wohl so an die drei Jahre sein.

MARGOT: Das ist eine lange Zeit, Soldat. Eine lange Zeit, die Sie nicht zu Hause gewesen sind.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Ja, das isses, eine verdammt lange Zeit!


Möcht’n Se was Schokolade?



MARGOT: Ach, ich habe schon seit Jahren keine Schokolade mehr gegessen


NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Nö, nö. Komm’n Se schon, Behalt’n Se’s,was.

MARGOT: Oh danke, Soldat, aber ich kann nicht bleiben.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT:  Das iss schon in Ordnung, Frollein.


MARGOT: Hat mich gefreut, Soldat.

NEUSEELÄNDISCHER SOLDAT: Ja, mich schon auch. Auf Wiederseh’n.(GEHT AB)


MARGOT: (SIEHT IHM NACH, SCHREIT) Oh, Soldat? Dieser Ort, in welchem Land ist er? (ERKENNT, DASS ER WEG IST, SPRICHT LEISE ZU SICH SELBST) Woher sind Sie? (SIEHT AUF DIE TAFEL SCHOKOLADE, DIE VERSUCHUNG IST ZU GROSS, SIE NIMMT SIE AUS DER VERPACKUNG UND BRICHT EIN WINZIGES STÜCK AB, ISST ES. SPRICHT ZUM PUBLIKUM). Hab  meiner Mutter nie davon erzählt. Die kleine Margot Philips. Ein braves deutsches Mädchen spricht mit einem Soldaten vom anderen Ende der Welt. Aber ach, diese Schokolade!



We thank Beate Jones for including the following about Margot Philips and Campbell Smith:

Margot Leonie Louisa Philips was born on 5 April 1902 in Duisburg-Ruhrort, Germany. She was the youngest of five children born to Selma and Julius Philips. Margot’s father was a grain merchant who could provide a comfortable living for his family and who had a strong sense of their Jewish background but a liberal outlook.

World War I brought about the collapse of the business and when Margot’s father died their comfortable lifestyle came to an end. Margot subsequently trained as a shorthand typist and found employment from 1929 to 1934 with a chain of department stores but eventually lost her job because she was Jewish.

In 1935 Margot left Germany and found temporary refuge and work in England. From there she helped organize her brother Kurt’s emigration, along with his wife, to New Zealand, where they settled in Hamilton and from where they sponsored Margot’s emigration.

After her arrival in her new home country, Margot worked as a waitress in her brother’s coffeehouse in Hamilton, “The Vienna”, contributing a bit of European otherness to an otherwise rural and conservative environment.

When she was about 48 she took first tentative steps into the  world of visual arts. Her attempts at drawing failed but she persevered and finally developed, with the help of her Auckland-based tutor Colin McCahon, her own unique style of painting her favourite and almost exclusive subject: the Waikato landscape.

Margot Philips had a few exhibitions and in 1987 her contribution to art in the Waikato was honoured with an exhibition entitled “Margot Philips – Her Own World” to mark the opening of the new Waikato Museum of Arts and History.

In December 1988 Margot Philips passed away at the Trevellyn Rest Home for the Aged where she had spent her last few years.

Summary of Margot Philip’s biography based on Margaret Sutherland, ‘Margot Philips’ in James N. Beade (ed),  Out of the Shadow of War. The German Connection with New Zealand in the Twentieth Century (Auckland, 1998). pp 123 -127


Campbell Smith was born in Masterton in 1925. After an apprenticeship as a signwriter, he studied painting at the Canterbury School of Art before becoming  a teacher and spending two years in London where he earned  a living as a supply teacher. In 1956 he returned to New Zealand to work as a teacher at Waihi College. In the relative isolation of Waihi and still keenly interested in the Arts, Campbell took up wood engraving. In 1961 he moved to Hamilton, where he taught at Fairfield College while remaining heavily involved in the local art scene as the president of the Waikato Society of Arts. In 1971 Campbell became director of the Hamilton Art Gallery, then director of Fine Arts at the Waikato Museum. He held this position until his retirement in 1985.

Through his involvement with the Arts, Campbell Smith got to know Margot Philips quite well but the idea to write a play about her came to him after he met Jorge Alvarez, the ambassador of Mexico in New Zealand, at an exhibition opening in 2001. Alvarez had fallen in love with Margot Philips’s paintings and even purchased one to take back to his home country. Campbell, who had written more than twenty plays, decided to retell Margot’s story of loss and re-creation in his play originally titled “Waikato-Green” but later re-named “This Green Land”.


Beate Jones, a Bavarian by birth, lived  for seven years in Munich, where she studied English and French at the Ludwig-Maximilian University, before following her New Zealand husband-to-be to Hamilton, New Zealand.  She has been living in Hamilton ever since. While her first impression of Hamilton, after having lived in Munich, was not entirely positive, the city and its people, like the river Waikato, have wormed their way into her heart and these days she feels very protective of her elected home, which she feels offers some of the best possible compromises of living a city life in an almost rural way.

Beate has been teaching German for more than 20 years at the University of Waikato. She is currently enrolled in a PhD in Literary Translation at Victoria University in Wellington. Writing poetry, short stories and the translation from German to English of a range of texts have been an interesting and challenging  sideline to her work.



Carnival 5: A VIEW FROM HERE

Welcome to our fifth and final edition of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival, themed A VIEW FROM HERE. 


This edition is beautiful collection of photography, poetry, story and reports from all around New Zealand and Germany. We begin in the north of New Zealand and meander through Northland to the west coast, from big city to country meadows, and all the way to ChristChurch — and in between we scoot from Bavaria to Scotland, from Berlin to Hikurangi.

Enjoy A VIEW FROM HERE and thanks to all our contributors.

Highlight: Marcus Speh and Christopher Allen in dialogue


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Expat author Christopher Allen recently interviewed the German author Marcus Speh (who often writes in English) at his blog I Must Be Off. Together, Allen and Speh explore questions of home, belonging, travel, inspiration, New Zealand, and writing and meaning in different languages. The interview is both in English und auf deutsch, here are the starting passages:

A perfect thing to highlight here at our Aotearoa Affair. See links to the full interviews here:

Christopher Allen’s Expat Author Interview with Marcus Speh in English.

Christopher Allens Expat Author Interview mit Marcus Speh — die deutsche Version.  


About Christopher Allen and Marcus Speh:

Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (a Satire). His fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous places both online and in print. He edits for Metazen, a daily literary ezine, and writes book reviews for Books at Fictionaut (see his recent review of Sheldon Lee Compton’s The Same Terrible Storm). Allen has been a Pushcart Prize nominee, a finalist at Glimmer Train and the recipient of a few other writing awards. He lives in Germany, where he teaches Business English, but spends a lot of his time traveling.

Christopher Allen, amerikanischer Autor der Satire Conversations with S. Teri O’Type (Englisch), lebt in Deutschland. Seine Kurzgeschichten findet man in literarischen “Ezines” wie Blue Five Notebook Series, SmokeLong Quarterly und A- Minor. Allen ist bei der Redaktion von Metazen und schreibt auch Buchkritiken für “Books at Fictionaut”). Unter anderem wurde Allen für den Pushcart Prize nominiert und auch ausgewählt als Finalist beim Glimmer Train. Allen reist sehr gern, vielleicht zu gern.


Marcus Speh ist ein deutscher Schriftsteller, der Prosa auf Englisch schreibt. 2002 lebte er mit seiner Familie in New Lynn und lehrte an der University of Auckland. 
Seine Sammlung von Kurzgeschichten Thank You For Your Sperm wird Ende 2012 bei MadHat Press erscheinen. 

Marcus Speh is a German writer who writes prose in English. In 2002 he lived with his family in New Lynn and taught at the University of Auckland. His debut collection of short fiction Thank You For Your Sperm will be published at the end of 2012 by MadHat Press. 

Highlight: Anton Blank

Short Story: Matariki by Anton Blank

He was born on the first day of June and his name was Matariki.

At first the seven stars on his forehead were barely visible but as Matariki grew into a toddler their form became more clearly defined. Sometimes the stars twinkled and sparkled as Matariki laughed hysterically, his mouth wide open, and his curly lips peeled back to show his straight white teeth.

At other times the stars were opaque and dark, morphing from black to purple, purple to orange, orange to yellow – like the kaleidoscopic sunset on a planet in another galaxy filled with tall, graceful creatures. On those occasions Matariki reached out for his parents and as they rocked their magical son, Matariki nestled his head into their necks and stroked their cheeks with his small soft hands.

During winter months Matariki pressed his nose against the windows that looked onto the garden. When the snow came he ran about the yard singing ethereal songs in mystical languages, and the house and garden would be bathed in soft ochre light.

In spring the garden burst with kowhai and hundreds of tui came to sip on the nectar from the trees, which weighed heavy with their yellow bell-shaped flowers. Every year the townspeople came to watch the tui feed and hear them sing, but most of all they wanted to touch the boy with the stars on his forehead. Soon, television crews from around the world came to film the garden filled with flowers and birds and interview the mythical toddler and his parents.

The stories started slowly at first, a couple of elderly folk who had been to the garden said their arthritis had been cured. Other people said that ever since they had touched Matariki their spring gardens had been unnaturally prolific. Families said that they had had not one argument since they’d watched news of Matariki on television. Soon sickness and unhappiness disappeared and Aotearoa became known as a land of miracles and harmony.

Matariki and his parents were international celebrities, and the New Zealand government declared 1 June a national holiday.

When Matariki was seven he returned to the sky. His father woke in the middle of the night with a start, knowing the moment he had anticipated ever since Matariki was born had come. Tawhirimatea rumbled in the heavens and Matariki’s father smiled – because he knew he had helped bring love into the world and Matariki would be remembered forever.


Anton Whaimata Blank (Ngati Porou/Ngati Kahungunu) is a writer and communications consultant who lives in Auckland. He has a keen interest in contemporary Maori issues which he explores through his work and writing. Anton writes essays and short fiction and has been published by Huia publishers, Tandem Press and Victoria University. Anton is editor of Ora Nui, a new literary journal showcasing Maori work. Some works from Ora Nui were featured here for the National Poetry Day celebration. 

Highlight: Chris Slane

Freedom of Information & Legends of the Past

In his cartoons, Chris Slane ventures into the gaps of the modern world with his fabulous Privacy and Freedom of Information Cartoons. With the same ease, he moves back in history with works like the graphic novel, Maui: Legends of the Outcast. 

His new project, Nice Day for a War, could be placed with both graphic novels and illustrated history books. Written by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott, it tells of one Kiwi soldier’s experience of life in the Great War, from training at Trentham to the trenches of Flanders and the battle of Messines.

NZ Post Children’s Book Award for Nice Day of War

Nice Day for a War was recently awarded the 2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Award. One-part war comic and two-parts history, it features never-before-seen ephemera from a soldier, as well as official histories, contemporary writings, cartoons and art created in the trenches by soldiers themselves. Postcards, photographs, letters, news reports, statistics and other original documents enhance this account based on a war diary.

Interview with Chris Slane

Did you find working with this historical material more difficult than other projects? And of all the ephemera you studied to put together Nice Day for a War, what surprised you most as you moved through the materials and discovered the story you created with Matt Elliott?

Research for book illustration is addictive, I find. After getting acquainted with lots of books on a subject, I need to collect as much visual reference as possible. Before the internet I would fill a box with clippings of articles and images, known by American cartoonists as a ‘morgue’. I still have those stored away, in case I ever need them, but it is much easier to compile images on a computer. The websites for ArchivesNZ and the National Library were great resources when working on Nice Day.

Using GoogleEarth enables me to virtually visit battlefield sites, the next best thing to going there in person. I zoom in, get a birds eye view, look at photos taken by people on the spot, then match them with historical images. That way I am more confident drawing background landscapes. When creating storyboards, I script dialogue and sketch scenes simultaneously. As I draw up the final art I need to keep reference photos in view on the computer screen and refer to them frequently.

When we took one of the faded pencil entries from the battered old war diary of Matt’s grandfather and illustrated it we were pleased to find it coming alive, but surprised to find a nice kiwi understatement emerging from the page.

Projects such as Kahe Te Rauoterangi and Hinepoupou feature heroic women, and much of your work explores heroic Maori stories as well. Is it more the human element in these stories or their mythical nature that lends itself to graphic storytelling?

A little of both. Superhero comics do typically revolve around a central hero and the drawing is mostly of one human figure. One central character is more easily identifiable than numbers of drab figures. That’s one reason they have such graphic costumes. I illustrated one myth (Kaitoa), in which the characters were vegetables and animals. In the end, these mainly human figures morphed into ingredients of a large bowl of boiling soup.

Comics can be used as a means to teach as well as entertain, as we see in the case of Art Spiegelman’s Maus books, for example. Your creative impulses seem to come from an urge to enlighten as well as entertain, going all the way back to your UN youth project, Poverty, Power & Politics. Would you say that’s true (with the exception, perhaps, of Knuckles, the malevolent nun and your cartoon books Sheep Thrills and Blokes, Jokes & Sheds)? Are you more teacher or entertainer?

Yes, it’s good to add a drop of entertainment, but the educational element adds depth, I feel. There seems to be so much untapped potential for graphic stories based on our history and prehistory, it would be a pity to ignore them. These stories just seem more distinctive to me. As a freelance editorial illustrator and cartoonist my work focuses on communicating with text and visuals. Nice Day was another chance to combine those skills with my interest in history.

The world of comics has enjoyed a resurgence in recent decades. What do you think this might say about the culture we live in? And is there more appeal now than in, say, previous centuries or decades? What is it about comics that can capture an age so specifically?

Visual storytelling certainly seems to be more mainstream now. TV productions and films usually go through a storyboard stage at some early point in their production, when they appear much like a graphic novel. Comics are accepted now because more people recognise they are another powerful medium for telling any kind of story. Previously, comics were seen as purely low-brow popular culture. I remember the only comics I ever saw at my school were Classic Comics. Now librarians and teachers actively support graphic books, perhaps because some teachers and librarians I know are cartoonists themselves.

And finally, what writers or artist have influenced your work, either directly or indirectly? And where do you draw your inspiration?

Comics creators who inspire me are both writer and artist, such as Will Eisner, Moebius, Daniel Clowes, Mike Mignola and Frank Miller. They give you a fully integrated comic, where visuals and story work seamlessly and you can find a singular vision. Humorous cartoonists also have that appeal, especially some of my favourites in magazines, like Addams, or Gross in the New Yorker.

Thank you, Chris Slane, for the interview!

Chris Slane is a New Zealand editorial freelance cartoonist and illustrator. His comic work includes the books ‘Maui: Legends Of The Outcast’, ‘Nice Day For A War: Adventures of A Kiwi Soldier in WW1′ , Maori history, legends and a contribution to Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales. Work as a commercial storyboard artist further utilises his graphic story-telling skills. As a freelancer Slane has contributed to a wide range of magazines and newspapers. His cartoon books include ‘Sheep Thrills’ and ‘Blokes, Jokes & Sheds’.

Co-creator of the satirical group puppet troupe ‘Hands Up’ Slane wrote, constructed and performed satirical items for Television New Zealand’s ‘Tonight Show’, designed and performed puppet characters for the children’s series ‘Space Knights’. He has won the Qantas and Canon Cartoonist Of The Year and Editorial Graphics Artist Awards numerous times.

For more, visit Chris Slane’s website.

(interview by Michelle Elvy, layout by Dorothee Lang)

Highlight: Poetry Live Poets

National Poetry Day Series

For the last poems in the National Poetry Day series here at Aotearoa Affair — which has included poets as varied Tim Jones, Iain Britton, Janis Freegard, Harvey Molloy, Sue Wootton, Siobhan Harvey, Helen McKinlay, Maureen Sudlow, Michele Leggott, Hinemoana Baker, Marino Blank, Moana Nepia, Reihana Robinson, Kawiti Waetford, Andrew Bell, Helen Lowe, AJ Ponder, Beate Jones and the Tuesday Poem Collective — we bring you poetry by the hosts of Auckland’s Poetry Live. These people dedicate a good deal of time ensuring Poetry Live is a tradition that keeps going.


Penny Somervaille, I want to be an old woman who crosses borders
(response to Its Weight in Gold by Jason Hall)

There is a heartline
on a white palm
a childhood memory of
fairy footprints
graffiti on fresh snow

but look closer
this is my heartline
these are my footprints

when the snow melts
they will remain

©Penny Somervaille

Penny Somervaille is one of 5 MCs for Poetry Live the longest running Open Mic Poetry event in Auckland. She has been published in Sidestream, Blackmail Press, Live Lines and other zines. She is mostly a spoken word poet and has read her work at a number of venues – including Rhythm & Verse, Pah Homestead, Library Bar. She talks about publishing her work but has yet to do so being of an indolent disposition.



thursday morning @ 6.39 was looking every bit like a wet,
mediocre canvas.
a surface to be discarded, burned
or terrorised.

I would have counted the dots of rain on the window
or the number of cars surging up my hill –
just so many scuttling silverfish, under contract to
The Man.
money really was standing up & shouting:
“Who’s your 1st religion, cog-man?”

I was feeling that ordinary!

my sacred coffee ritual failed to hit the target
& I felt like seizing the earth in both hands
& stopping the spin.
or at least – kicking the damn coffee pot
& starting again,
but I ironed my pants & shirt, like a good boy
& prepared to go to work.

there were a couple of compensatory highlights:
Tom Waits talking about Keith Richards
& my daughter’s request to hear Charlie Parker
on the stereo.

9 o’clock was a room full of school children –
a slowly melting, wobbly jelly
reuniting in crayon & dye.
I gave them my all.

at 3pm I flipped the switch
& felt the need to do something offensive.

you know: Fuck Shit Up!

in my mind, I said:
give me a good shot of tequila
& a weapon
& some originator of irritation is going to die!

at the very least, I felt like drilling a hole in the head of Gaddafi.

instead, there was a brief, café experience
which was mostly tit-gazing & overheard wedding plans
beneath fading, old photos of Turkey…

& through the front door
the noisy, sideways parabola of a yellow motorcycle.
but he didn’t lose it, or slide into a wall!
he rode carefully & made sure he got home.

& a lame, computer-enhanced pop vocal
blasting through a car window – which was just too much
of a Gaga moment to bear.
so I wished the singer & fan, intense ill.

at least my coffee –
my compromising, mind balm was served hot!
& with a nice, bitter aftertaste.

I finished that, over a few casual thoughts
about how you would justify 4thGenerationWarfare.

A Primary school teacher and father to a teenage musician daughter, Jeremy Roberts is an MC at Auckland’s “Poetry Live” and regularly appears at spoken word events around the city. He recently read his work in Texas, USA. His work has been published in Side Stream, Live Lines IV, Poetry NZ #44, Free Venice Beachhead, Takahe, NZ Listener, Snorkel, Potroast #9 & upcoming NZ Poetry Society magazine.


Rachael Naomi Heimann, ode to leo

all 3 of us danced
through curtains shredded
in passion

you sang to me
_____________through the lips
of my lover
in the early hours
of a new year’s day

i sang your songs at the end of last century
little knowing the beauty
of your poetic voice
_________________would finger my heart open
to longing

you tried typing
underwater once
________________o Leonard
let me be your diving buddy            next time

i wanna celebrate
your favourite game &
lose beautifully

i wanna thank you
up close & personal
for introducing me
to Lorca  Layton & co

Priest & Prophet
leave no scar
___________on the mist of your voice
i will blacken the pages

Rachael Naomi Heimann writes poetry, transforms her poems into visual art via indian ink and quill, chalks poems onto pavements and MCs at Poetry Live every second Tuesday of the month.


Tim Heath, Apples 

Doncha just love apples?

Autumnal joy to pick, to rub against your shirt.

Each bite engages mouth teeth and chin

Ears, too, if you think about it.

New season’s apples are true loves far

above the slack dry sponges made

and sprayed and chilled in the USA

sent down the carbon trails to sit off-season in supermarkets

labelled with silly stickers with dental floss ambitions

polished to meretricious glow

packed with dry disappointment

Doncha just love the feel of an apple?

not quite round, but trying to be

Surface of a hundred hues and occasional bumps

not quite smooth but wanting to be

Inside pristine as an ice chamber

but not as cold

As easy to bruise as a teenage heart and soul

not quite tough but hoping to be

Doncha just love the juices of an apple?

Juices that want to fill and moisten a pie

Juices that linger on steering wheel after in-car munch

Juices that give unwiped lips

a gentle suggestion of ciderfication

Doncha just love the names of apples?

Galarina, Galloway, Gano and Garden Royale

Garland, Gasoyne’s Scarlett, Gavin, Geneva Crab,

George Carpenter, George Cave, Gernes Red Acre

Golden Haralson

Goodland and Green Sweet and even Goof

Golden Delicious,



_________________and Granny Smith.

Apples for all the letters of the alphabet, except x

I love them all; want to sample them all,

want to have them in my garden

and let each one

_____________be the apple

__________________________of my eye

Tim Heath had a long and happy teaching career until the vines of modern bureaucracy ensnared him and took away the joy and simplicity of working with children. Today, his main interests are spending time with his eight grandchildren, cooking, gardening, playing golf, blue water sailing, learning to listen and endeavouring to have a few more poems and stories published. All these things give him more than his fair share of contentment, as does the excitement of being able to hear, and have the time to obey, the voice that whispers writing ideas inside his head.

Michael Botur, Saturday in a Stink hood

___Bro, Roskill’s shaaaame after Big Wednesday!
Fresh bomb dribbles down the post box
We got post-apocalyptic streets, post-quake, post-Enola Gay
McDonalds sacks leave the gutter clogged
With dead dogs, and hedgehog guts evaporate.

___Picket fences shed their paint like snakes
Sewers puke soapy water. Each lawn
is strewn with Woodstock cans. Council grades
defame the curry shops; the best restaurant
is Mobil On The Run: Hygiene rating A.

___Busted bus stop glass, like Kristallnacht was yesterday
Junk mail dumped in the impotent river.
Insomniac airport traffic, sooty highway
Chinglish bakeries, misplaced refugees, lost shopping trolleys.
Alkies commiserate with their mates: Cody, Jack, Jim and Jose.

___Chapped-lipped bums, their work shirts greyed,
furgle in the bins, compete with hovering wasps.
WINZ has drawn its roller doors, a sign declaims
Closed: Saturday. We’re as trapped as a pot full of crays.
So, to the TAB, the boys, the race

___We dawdle on the crossing, huffing spraypaint.
In the pub haze we slap backs, swap disses,
wipe Lion Red from our lips, beeline straight
for the urinal, biff a cig butt in the foamy piss.
Zipper’s stuck? Fuck it. Horse ain’t won? Delay

___despair with 20 menthol Holidays.
In the Two Buck Shop, we nick a hi-vis vest. See,
Hirequip has us shovellin’ shit for minimum wage,
Like tweakers scrubbing windscreens for their grams of P.
For his aiga, a matai lugs Mad Butcher snarlers in a suitcase.

___‘Cause Maungarongo ain’t no celebrity volcano, no Surtsey,
but most of us are stuck here like stone bodies at Pompeii,
cast from many molds: Maori, Somali, Hindu, Honky, Haji, PI,
beanie, hardhat, turban, burqa, beret –
Bro, what’s your Community Services Card say?

___A burb bent as a boxer’s nose, Roskill wrecked and remade,
In alleyways, jandalled Mongrel Mobsters walk their pig dogs.
MAGS Boys and Baptist Killer Beez throw down in the Domain.
Our hood’s a fob watch running on rusted cogs.
___Mt Roskill: broke and rich. Where do YOU stay?

South Islander Michael Botur has been published in various places including Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, JAAM, Takahe, Bravado, Catalyst, Sidestream, Rem and others.