Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Capital Letters - Glenn Colquhoun - opening keynote - Myths and Legends Of the Ancient Pakeha

For some unknown reason, Glenn Colquhoun began his session by apologising for his singing voice - I have no idea why?? He has beautiful voice. 

Glenn's keynote was on the art of oral poetry in NZ - or songs for Pakeha to sing at powhiri! 

He started with songs and poetry that focussed on love across cultures - using Burns and Maori voices.

Ideas such as - an oral poem does not exist on the page - but in thin air and the spaces in between - and that we need to fill those spaces! 

Our country had two poetries - one  written in English the other sung and danced in Maori - very little conversation between  the two. His journey has led him to connect the two. The conference at Takapuna  forced him to confront these two worlds. 

What would pakeha oral poetry sound like - would they match the power of Te Reo?

He used a lovely phrase - Maori have 'Hymn book in the head' 

Historically writing allowed the poem to become more cerebral and more studied - this has left the poem 'spiky irrelevant and intimidating at times!

We tend to forget that melody changes the way the poem is understood - but is very powerful. 
Value of public performance changes the meaning and creates part of a conversation with an entire society. 

Glenn spoke about how he mined 'pakeha history' for the stories  of early NZers to form the oral poetry-songs of Colquhoun - Budby, Kendall, von Tempsky, Price, Diffenbach, and his own great great great great Grandmother- hymns,shanty, sonnets, ballads and work songs. 

While writing/composing these he discovered that stories of pakeha are as powerful and moving as those of other cultures. Fabulous link between the painted image and the spoken word - each piece of poetry linked to an early NZ image. 

Broken and incomplete subjects are more powerful than those that are bright and shiny. 

Again I have  no idea why he apologised for his singing - his keynote was mesmerising.

Kia kaha 

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