Writing in Whangarei

Who we are and where we’ve been

Take Flight is:

Aaron Robertson * Bernard Heise * Damian Pullen

Martin Porter * Michelle Elvy * Peter Larsen

Piet Nieuwland * Vaughan Gunson

Te Ika A Maui, Rakiura, Te Wai Pounamu by Piet Nieuwland

We meet monthly.

We write. We share. We shout. We swear.  All in good fun.

We love poetry, prose, reflection, and dialogue.

Some of us have traveled far to get here. Along the way, we’ve encountered change and transformation.

The road is long, and we’re still en route. But we’ve made a few interesting stops along the way.

You can find us online, in print, and in and around Whangarei.

Aaron Robertson was born in the Westie heartland of Henderson in Auckland, and knew that he had come of age upon receiving his first Led Zeppelin t-shirt at the age of 15.  Trying to escape the cultural paucity of suburban living, he moved to London in 1999, where he sold books for a living and later rashly declared himself an artist, momentarily succumbing to the peer pressure of his work colleagues at the Tate.  On the sage advice of his French wife, he exchanged perfidious Albion for Paris in 2005. There, a budding career as a flâneur was only occasionally interrupted by work as a copywriter. Growing fatigued by boulangères who mocked his knowledge of Proust, he moved to Whangarei in 2010 intending to become a gentleman farmer.  Aaron has published music and art criticism in small magazines, improvised music to accompany contemporary dance in the UK, performed Hawaiian ukulele tunes at an electronic music festival in Switzerland and has album credits in Europe playing guitar, bass, percussion, home-made electronic instruments and modified children’s toys.

Bernard Heise lives on a sailboat. He monitors the sun as it rises and sets; he keeps a watchful eye on the tides. And when the spirit moves him, he animates the mummified corpse of 15th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and mounts the pulpit at the Church of Rebar Jesus. His writing has been featured most recently in thirteen.

Damian Pullen was born on May 16th 1968 but many more important things happened on this day in history. For example, the Campbells Soup company introduced SpaghettiOs (1965), Tony Kakko, Finnish singer, was born (1975), and “Bodacious” the bull died (2000). Bodacious was a legendary bull. Only six men ever completed their professional rodeo rides on this 1800 lbs. of raging Charbray bull. Bodacious was the only bull so feared he was retired to protect the lives of bull riders everywhere.

Martin Porter was born and brought up in St Helier, Jersey and has gone round in circles ever since. He started writing verse while in primary school and developed a love of poetry during his secondary school years. His interest in science took him overseas to London and Leeds, where he pursued an interest in the planets and chased cosmic rays. He returned to his old school, Hautlieu, in Jersey to teach in the science department. After a bout of weariness, he became an IT trainer at Jersey Health and Social Services, before leaving to move to larger islands on the other side of the planet. He spent six months in St Heliers, Auckland before moving to the winterless North and settling in Whangarei.  Martin is a founder and continuing member of an innominate writing group in Jersey, together with Linda Rose Parkes and Alan Jones. An occasional performer and experienced lecturer, he writes regularly and has even been published on rare occasions. He is influenced by his scientific background, but also by reading, in particular Ted Hughes, TS Eliot, Herman Hesse, and Alan Garner among many others. He is an extensive listener of music and the spoken word, and takes great enjoyment from old episodes of “I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue”, a longstanding BBC radio program celebrating the sophistication of British culture and featuring the late great Humphrey Littleton.

Michelle Elvy arrived in New Zealand by way of the great big sea. Over the past eight years, she’s told stories to her children and to the wind, but now she’s finally putting down roots. Before setting out across the Pacific, Michelle lived in the watery tidewater region of the Chesapeake Bay on the eastern seaboard of the US, and prior to that she lived in Germany, where her writing made its way onto the Berlin Wall. Those fragments of Michelle’s own brush with history rest peacefully these days in her mother’s attic. Since her Berlin days, Michelle has written about children, food, faraway places, motorcycling, dreaming big, and the kindness of strangers. Her work has been published in sailing and travel magazines, and her creative writing has shown up recently at Blue Print Review, Gloom Cupboard, Like Birds Lit, Words With JAM, Six Sentences, Sleep. Snort. Fuck. and thirteen. She is the founder and editor of the flash fiction website 52|250 and co-founder and co-editor of a site encouraging experimentation called  VOICES: where characters (flawed or not) have their say. Michelle has been seen around town most recently at Northland’s National Poetry Day, Brainsex, and PechaKucha.

Peter Larsen is.

Piet Nieuwland‘s writing was first influenced by a flight over the countryside of France, Spain and the coast of the Mediterranean, a hemispherical view of fields, animals, forests, ocean, cliffs and towns, which came from one of the first books he recalls reading, Trip In a Balloon by Albert Lamorisse, translated from the French by Malcolm Barnes. Not only the panoramic vistas but the fact of translation has inspired his writing since. Piet comes to Whangarei via Cambridge, Hamilton, and Auckland, and he arrived at poetry from the memory of his Dutch relatives, the sounds of Japanese on his father’s tongue, early readings from the Lilliput Maori Dictionary and postcards carrying words in flight from his Uncle Albert. Piet was introduced to poetry performance  in the 1980s at the Northland Players Theatre in Kaihohe and the Globe Poets in Auckland.  Since then he has worked with other poets including David Eggleton, John Pule, Sandra Bell, Kim Blackburn and Alex Staines. He has read poetry at arts festivals, beaches, public meetings, libraries, restaurants, hui, art galleries, conferences, hilltops, and bars and cafes.  His poems have been published in NZ and Australia including Mattoid, Snafu, Takahe, Trout, Spin, Tounge in Your Ear and Live Lines. His self-published poetry compilations can be found in libraries throughout the country, and he has most recently performed in Whangarei at Brainsex and PechaKucha

Vaughan Gunson arrived in Whangarei in 1972, went away, and to his surprise came back. He now lives in Hikurangi. He tries to juggle being an art teacher, writer, activist and parent of young children. Poems sometimes spill out, more of which can be read at Falling Away from Blue.  His poetry has been published in Blackmail Press, New Zealand Listener, Poetry New Zealand, Side Stream, Stingray, Takahe, The Lumière Reader, UNITY Journal and Workers Charter. Some of his political writing can be read at UNITYblog.

Thanks for visiting our site, where, occasionally, words take flight.


2 responses

  1. Maureen Sudlow

    Hi guys. I’m also a writer, albeit unpublished apart from a couple of poems. I live in Dargaville and would love to meet up with other writers occasionally. I’m currently studying with Whitiriea on-line but it can get real lonely! If you could put up with a strong-minded granny I’d love to hear from you.

    May 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm

  2. Tim Upperton

    Whangarei – my hometown! One of my hometowns. A bunch of writers used to meet at Rosalie Carey’s cottage, about ten years ago.
    Wishing you all the best,

    June 8, 2011 at 2:49 am

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