It’s almost a year since the death of Heather McPherson, poet, lesbian feminist, mother and grandmother, activist, lover, mentor, editor and friend.
Heather founded a significant strand of Aotearoa New Zealand’s women’s art and literature movement in 1974, when she established both Spiral – perhaps best-known as publisher of Keri Hulme’s Booker Prize-winning the bone people – and the Christchurch women artists’ group which eventually morphed into the national Women’s Gallery (1980-1984) in Wellington. Our first out lesbian to publish a collection of poetry, Heather is also represented in many anthologies, most recently in Manifesto Aotearoa.
Spiral has revived – very briefly – to publish Heather’s This Joyous, Chaotic Place: Garden Poems, edited by award-winning poet Janet Charman, designed by long-time Spiral collective member Lynne Ciochetto. Its cover image is by artist and poet Joanna Margaret Paul (1945–2003), one of only four women at the first meeting of the Christchurch women artists group.
The associated This Joyous, Chaotic Place: He Waiata-Tangi-ā-Tahu exhibition at Mokopōpaki in Auckland celebrates Heather and her peers in the women’s art and literature movement and will include a substantial catalogue.
Partially funded by Creative New Zealand (yes!!) and a Suffrage125 project, This Joyous, Chaotic Place will open on Thursday 1 March, 6–8pm and close on Saturday 14 April. Heather’s book will be launched at the opening. And from 2pm-4pm Saturday 3 March, at the Pioneer Women’s Hall, Ellen Melville Centre, 1 Freyberg Place Auckland Central – a highly appropriate and beautiful place – 10 women will each read one poem from the book and a related poem of their choice. There will be afternoon tea, too. You’re all very welcome to join this celebration of Heather’s life and work.
We’ve been very moved to receive the beautiful gift of an extension to the exhibition’s title, in te reo.
And we’d love you to pre-order a copy – or copies! — from the limited edition of This Joyous, Chaotic Place: The Garden Poems ($25 includes p&p in NZ, ask us if you want to send further). Available only from Spiral (not in bookshops). Just message Marian through her Facebook page and we’ll organise your copy!