Words Chosen Carefully brings together some of New Zealand’s finest literary practitioners: 15 writers and 15 literary critics – in discussions about each author’s oeuvre, the nature of writing and the place of land, culture, belonging, society, family and art in their work.
With photographs by Liz March and an introduction by its editor, Siobhan Harvey, Words Chosen Carefully is the first book of its kind published in New Zealand in nearly two decades. For the exhibition, photographer Liz March presents a selection of her portraits from the book coupled with an intriguing array of vignettes captured in the writers’ studies.
"This is the great thing about literature, one is taken out of oneself, one’s community, one’s own shoes and put in the shoes of others."
"[...] Sometimes it feels hard enough just to do things like remember to pick up the milk when I'm in the middle of a novel, particularly. They simply take over every available neuron."
"Yes, I do love pondering. It’s like slow cooking. I think it means slow thought, turning an event or an idea this way or that. The writing I love has this quality of thinking."
"For language to go anywhere, it has to ﬂy on the wings of the writer’s soul – and by that I mean the writer’s inner culture, their personal sensibility, even their woundedness. Otherwise language is just an ‘amalgam’ of sounds that’s drilled into us until we pass out with boredom."
"Concentrating on something else often allows a poem to sneak up on me – I can see it out of the corner of my eye and have to pay attention to it before it goes again."
"Books help me read the world. I can't function without several at hand."
"Story is like a Talmud, so full of nuance it’s capable of endlessly shifting interpretation, that one returns to again and again for guidance."
Kate De Goldi
"Writing after all is a profoundly human act. Words are what define us as humans."
"Plots are just plots. Story is about our attempts – our, and therefore the characters, being our surrogate – to understand our lives by narrative."
"I like to think of myself as being centred in my culture but able to spiral out of it and return. You know, te torino haere whakamua, whakamuri. At the same time as the spiral is going out, it’s returning."
"Maybe in space no-one can hear you scream, but in the democracy of the poem, everyone can hear you whisper."
"Great literature gifts the reader occupancy of other souls. If this isn't an act of magic, I don't know what else is."
"I’m interested in the kind of choices one makes in shaping poems – how conscious these are or whether they aren’t often more instinctual."