Whenever I buy a book on New Zealand literature I check to see that it has an index, because otherwise it is useless as a work of reference. This is the mark of a good book.
Next, I check to see that I am in the index. This is the mark of a very good book. Bill Manhire’s Doubtful Sounds and Rachel Barrowman’s Maurice Gee: Life and Work score highly. How, I wondered, would Judith Dell Panny’s Let the Writer Stand: the work of Vincent O’Sullivan fare?
Not too badly, I am happy to report.
It has an index. Good.
I am in it. Very good.
I turn to page 7 and OMG, Chapter One begins with a quote from me nominating Vincent to become Poet Laureate in 2014:
What astonishes is the sustained vigour, wit, technical facility, emotional range and, increasingly warmth. … We have cerebral poets, amusing poets, inventive poets, political poets, sensitive poets – but no one else who does it all.
So the first words in the book are mine. Happy to waive royalties.
The other stuff I am reading is the winners of the Ockham Book Awards, the artist formerly known as the Montana Book Awards and more recently the NZ Post Book Awards. I know who the winners are. They don’t.