Saturday, October 10, 2009

Walking her shore

I apologise for the poor picture - it is the leaflet I was given to accompany the talk. The green background is my legs!

I have spent an afternoon crying, laughing and, generally, spell bound. Why? I went to a talk about a woman I had never heard of. But, I thought, if she warrants a talk, she must be worth finding out about, and she most certainly was!

Robin Hyde is the pen name of a very remarkable writer. She was a feminist at a time when it did not serve her career to be one, but more than this, she was a humanitarian.

I listened in awe for two and a bit hours and when Derek Challis, Robin's son, spoke (he knew her as mother, and by her real name of Iris, and she died when he was seven) I could not stop my tears from escaping.

It was also a celebration of her life and proof that she goes on living through her son's biography and through her words, which are as fresh and relevant today as they were in the 1930s. Particularly her thoughts on war.

Michele Leggott gave two readings: a poem of her own, named after one of Robin's, and a piece of prose poetry - what came from this experience was the overriding feeling of being in a room of creatively talented and strong people, strong women, and people, including the artists Annette Isbey and Margaret Lawlor-Bartlett, who were also in awe of a true pioneer.

I am not going to direct your reading to these individual pieces, I want you to go out and find out as much about her as you can, for yourselves. You will be inspired.

Apologies for the haphazardness of this post but I couldn't wait to share this with you!


Mary McCallum said...

thanks for this - Hyde is wonderful - wish i could have made the talk

Jim Murdoch said...

The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre looks like the best place online. There are links to loads of poems but the ones that jumped out at me were The Secret Child sequence of seven poems about her first child who died on birth, especially the first poem, 'A Daughter to her Mother' – very moving.

SG said...

She experienced so much pain in her life.. and yet weathered so much to give beautiful expressions to the world. I can see myself too being teary eyed if I were listening to this lady's son reminisce her... Thanks for sharing.

Rachel Fenton said...

Aue, Mary, it was so moving. Thanks for popping by here.

Thank you, Jim - I'll take a look at those links. Going to get a box of tissues first!

Phoenix, thanks for reading! She was an amazing woman for sure.

Andrea said...

I'm a big fan of both Robin Hyde and Michelle Leggott. They would without a doubt be among my favourites among NZ poets as I was just saying to someone the other day, funnily enough! So it was great to read this post of yours :)

Rachel Fenton said...

I can't believe I had never heard of Hyde before - she was hiding, ahem - but really, I was surprised I knew nothing of someone so wonderful.

Leggott, on the otherhand, I did know, but had never heard her read. She has such a great voice. I was definitely spellbound by the whole experience!

Glad to have posted something of interest - Thanks, Andrea :)

Lori said...

I've never heard of her but I am going to check her out now. I need to expand my universe of women writers. It seems like the talk made a big impression on you. Oh, how I need to move to the city!

Titus said...

Thanks too!
I had not heard of Hyde, but I will do the work and find her now.
I love this sort of tip-off.

Tom Bailey said...

This is very educational and informative. Very unique information.

Best regards

Rachel Fenton said...

Lori, the city may glitter but it is not gold! Tell you what, we'll swap!

I feel quite embarrassed, living in NZ and not having found out about Hyde sooner! At least you have the excuse of living abroad! :) I think you'll like what you discover of her. Thanks for popping by.

Hi, Titus, I need to add you to my blog roll - keep forgetting to visit you! Your welcome, I'm pleased to have posted something interesting as opposed to more guff about myself!
Thanks for visiting.

Hey, Tom, good to have you back!
Yep, Robin Hyde definitely broke the mould! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's things like this which make the internet so exciting. The randomness of discovering something you didn't know you didn't know. Thank you!

Rachel Fenton said...

I know what you mean, Penny, but it sometimes feels so overwhelming, too: there is so much out there but how much of it can I possibly find out about, and how much of it do I need to know?

I like things to find me!

Thanks for dropping in!

Anonymous said...

Amazing blog. Wish I was that talented.


Come see my blog of a Silly old 41 year old housewife,mom and grandma. I just brag and play some strange music.


I would love to hear what you think of my blogs.

Shanti Perez said...

Rachel, What do you think? Does it benefit the careers of women writers to be feminists now? It seems there is still this looming force, a kind of oppression, that I sense every day when it comes down to even having a conversation with a lot of male counterparts--particularly in lower class circles.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hi, Shanti, good question. You know, I think about this a lot, seriously, a lot! My answer varies on a daily basis - what I think today may not be applicable tomorrow - but right now I think my thoughts are these:

The world is still a primarily patriarchal sphere (that sounds utter guff, but hang with me).

It's hard to keep the meaning nuanced whilst trying to squish my thoughts into this condensed comments box.

I don't think much has changed in terms of men dominating societies. What I think has changed is what women expect themselves to do in todays societies.

I don't like the term "feminist", I must blog about this, soon, because I think it is such a huge thing which, as a spectrum thing is fine, but it is tricky when viewed as a single definition. With this in mind, I think single definition feminism is not the way to go with marketing ourselves - for any career. Would you want to be bracketed as any one thing? That cannot be good. I don't think men are women's enemeis/opressors either. That's mainly the part of feminism I don't like: that it sets women apart from men - it's too much distinction - how can you fight for equality if you take yourself out of the equasion? And the class thing is a whole other set of colour charts.

In fact, that's a good analogy for this: imagine all of these labels; class, gender, feminism, patriarchy, male, female - as colours and then, each sub-category within those labels as a hue of those colours - like the colour charts you get at the DIY store - and then pick the colours you most agree with and then look at them, carefully. Name those colours. Then take those colours and lay each one on a different coloured back cloth and see if the colours still look the same. Keep swapping the backgrounds and, my guess is, your colours will keep changing. Those colours are my views.