new zealand electronic poetry centre

Fiona Farrell 

Friday 23 August  7.30-10pm  once and for all
Saturday 24 August 10.15 – 11.30am  scoop:  ten poets read new poem
Sunday 25 August 9.30 – 11am brunch with poetry at iguaça 

A highly versatile writer best known for her awardwinning short fiction, plays and novels, Fiona Farrell returned to poetry after a gap of 12 years. The Inhabited Initial (AUP, 1999) was only her second collection of poetry. Her first was Cutting Out (AUP).

Fiona Farrell’s short fiction has won every major New Zealand short story award. She has received numerous other awards including the inaugural Bruce Mason Playwrights’ Award (1983), the Mobil Award for Best Radio Drama (The Perils of Pauline, 1990) and the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction (The Skinny Louie Book, 1992). She was the Canterbury University Writer in Residence in 1992 and the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in 1995.

The Inhabited Initial was designed by Karina McLeod, then the designer for the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, where she has designed a number of art publications, including being the catalogue for the Chinese Splendour exhibition.

The Inhabited Initial is illustrated with specially commissioned drawings by Dunedin jeweller Ann Culy. Ann trained at the School of Fine Arts at Canterbury and the Otago Polytechnic, has taught art, and has a background in painting, drawing and sculpture. Margaret Mahy launched The Inhabited Initial on 9 October 1999, during the Canterbury programme of the 1999 Listener Women’s Book Festival. 

But where’ this country’s soul?’ asked the visiting novelist . . .  

It is written in the bird code  
Of the philosophers.  

It is in the curl of a fist  
unfurling like bracken shoot.  

It is in my cousin’s jersey.  
My aunt wrote that jersey  
in purl and plain, using  
nothing but a pair of pointed  

It is in block letters at dam or bridge  
and in the sly graffiti of water at  
their foundations.  

It is scrawled in dust  
with a skid! and a whoop!  
at the corners.  

It is in the sweet calligraphy of air.  

It is passed breath to breath.  

It is not always available for comment.


From The Inhabited Initial, Auckland UP, 1999.

© Fiona Farrell


Last updated 15 July, 2002