Last Thursday, Unity Books had the rare privilege of welcoming two new poetry books into the world, ‘Beside Herself’ by Chris Price, and ‘As the Verb Tenses,’ by ex- Unity shop girl Lynley Edmeades.
‘As the Verb Tenses’ is Lynley Edmeades debut collection of poetry, published by Otago University Press, and ‘Beside Herself’ is Chris Price’s fourth collection, published by Auckland University Press.
The shop was packed with friends and family, and despite the books being published by separate presses, the atmosphere of fellowship and support amongst the literary community was at an all-time high.
Wellington poet and recent Burns fellow Louise Wallace introduced Lynley’s book ‘As the Verb Tenses,’ saying that writers these days ‘don’t just stumble into the good fortune of publication’ and that this book was a testament to Lynley’s years of dedication and hard work. She called Lynley as ‘scientist of language’ and described the book as being both funny and academic. Louise spoke about how Lynley has always put others first, both professionally and personally, and has spent years contributing to the poetry community and championing other people’s work, and it was great to see Lynley’s own work in full view at last.
Next Lynley spoke, and thanked her friends, family, and publishers. She said it was an honour to be sharing a launch with Chris Price, who she had been taught by previously. Lynley said Chris was one of the first people that instilled in her the thought that she could be a poet, and that to be able to launch her debut book alongside Chris was a ‘perfect circularity.’
Margaret Samuels from Auckland University Press spoke briefly about Chris’s new book, saying that it was a special occasion when publishers and writers were able to share launches, and she welcomed Elizabeth Caffin to introduce ‘Beside Herself.’
Elizabeth Caffin said she had been working at Auckland University Press for the publication of Chris’s first book, and was honoured to be here to launch her fourth. Elizabeth described Chris’s new collection as ‘at ease, confident and relaxed’ and said it took a while for a New Zealand poet to stop being just a rare curiosity and emerge as a major voice in New Zealand literature, which Chris Price has.
Elizabeth spoke about the cover image on the book, which she said ‘teasingly suggests multiple personas’ and said that the title ‘Beside Herself’ might give us a clue that the poems in this collection are more personal than we might have imagined.
Chris Price began her speech by paying tribute to wonderful New Zealand poet Rachel Bush who has recently passed away, and sharing one of her poems from her forthcoming collection ‘Thought Horses’. Chris said she was often asked why she published with Auckland University Press when she is so closely aligned with the Wellington poetry scene, to which she always replies ‘they asked.’ She said she enjoyed people’s confusion, and wanted to work against the idea that all the various publishing presses and writing centres were somehow at war.
Chris Price said that her new collection of poetry ‘spends a lot of time in other people’s shoes.’ She said the collection was darker than some of her previous work, and she had used the word ‘black’ so often in it, she considered calling it ‘The Black Book’ but on reflection decided the book was too ‘double faced’ for that, swinging between comedy and tragedy. Chris Price said that she was constantly surprised that, despite being such an introvert, she was still in such regular, happy contact with other writers.
You can purchase Lynley Edmeades book in store or HERE in our online shop.
You can purchase Chris Price’s books in store or HERE in our online shop.