Thursday, October 14, 2021


I'm honoured to be stepping into the shoes of Lynley Caldwell as I take over as Curator of Janet Frame House in Oamaru, hometown of New Zealand's most successful writer. 

Janet Frame House is open to the public from November to April - I look forward to meeting people who are as enthusiastic about Frame's fiction as I am. 

Zine workshops

I've spent all this week teaching zine-making workshops at the Forrester Gallery, Oamaru, with some amazing attendees to inspire me, not to mention the fantastic artworks on display all around the building. 

Although I won't be teaching next week, members of the public of all ages are still welcome to use the zine-making station to create an entry for the competition (I'll be judging) before the October 25 deadline.

Alternatively, stop by and collect an instruction form and make a zine at home in your own time and drop it back at the gallery before the 25th for a chance to win a $50 book voucher. 

Many thanks to Elizabeth King and Forrester Gallery for facilitating the event.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

On the page

I didn't stop to think how my friend would feel to be the subject of a book of poetry about friendship. I got so caught up in wanting to show her how much I appreciate and love her. I trusted she'd be OK with me being me. But I should have asked. In her own words, Lori wrote about how it feels to be put on the

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Beerstorming review

"Rachel Fenton’s Charlotte Brontë is the best friend anyone could want: someone who is there, who doesn’t judge and understands the drive to write [...] someone you can run seemingly-daft ideas past and get useful replies. Someone to share a beer with."

Many thanks to writer Emma Lee for taking the time and care to read Beerstorming with Charlotte Bronte in New York, and for writing this smashing review here

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Overground underground

Big thanks to Overground Underground for making my graphic memoir 'Dance the Night Away' free to read along with some wonderful works from other writers in their inaugural issue, which you can read here (scroll to p58 on the site bar, p52 on the magazine itself for my Comic).

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The beating heart

One of the downsides of lockdown for me has been a reduced appetite for reading for pleasure. An inability to concentrate for long. My way around this has been to read things I can dip in and out of, which means that besides reading a page or two of a novel at bedtime, I've been mostly reading poetry and short stories, and even then only things that manage to really snare my heart have lasted the course.  This brings me to the book I want to tell you about today.

The Beating Heart, by Denise O' Hagan (Ginninderra Press)

I stayed in bed in the morning to finish reading the poems in The Beating Heart before my household dragged me into the loud day. There is a gentleness to the poetry in this collection that rewards the reader for a few moments of silence in which to savour them, such as in 'What was' - the simple ritual of coffee opening the memory’s shutters; the way O' Hagan evokes past times rich and fluidly and with the ease of pouring a cup, and now I am tied to this poem of hers – her memories – through the shared act of sipping coffee; such a wonderful way to bring readers into the heart of her poems, a heart that filled me with wonder and at times aching sadness, such as in ‘Recalling Sarah’, ‘A stain the shape of Italy’, and ‘Mary, Mary, quite contrary’ that with its similarly deceptively simple nursery rhyme chime tapped into the child’s vulnerability in all of us, so that when I read “your too eager embrace of people/who used you and bruised you and left you alone?”, I felt urged to reach into the past to help then at loss because of course the past is the past and what’s in it can be no more retrieved than the suitcases left “fully intending to retrieve them”. The way O' Hagan's poems intersect like the Italian streets from her childhood, containing a lifetime’s worth of things to puzzle and discover, is a marvel to me. I loved, too, her exploration of the gaze in ‘Old man’s eyes’, and that, perhaps, is my favourite. 

I highly recommend this collection.