Book Launch: All Her Dark Pretty Thoughts
Sunday 2 July, 1:30pm
Wanda Barker has been writing and performing poetry for many years, through the trials and joys of parenting four now-adult children, alongside a career as social worker/therapist/artist, and while painting and sculpting with fabric, paints and embellishments in her spare time. Writing has been a constant thread, a challenge and companion.
Through the 1990s, a few of her poems and short stories were published in national magazines, and she studied in the creative writing programme at Victoria University, under the tutelage of Bill Manhire. She was also the recipient of a Creative New Zealand new writers grant during that time. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, she ran ‘Wild Writing’ courses for Waikato University’s adult education programmes throughout the Waikato.
Wanda Barker has continued to develop and produce a body of work, including the near completion of four poetry books and two novels. All Her Dark Pretty Thoughts (2017) is her first published book.
All Her Dark Pretty Thoughts (2017) tells the story of an ordinary well-heeled women’s growing defiance against the hurts and constraints of her failing marriage.
Through a series of searing narrative poems, it shows how power shifts in the relationship, asks where responsibility falls for a tribe of kids (largely on the mother), and charts our protagonist’s tendencies towards self-medication with booze and prescription drugs.
Against a backdrop of verbal and sexual violence, we see her descent into and return from a kind of Western maternal madness.
And she is not alone in this journey – the ‘older than old bold spirits’ Persephone, Demeter and Hecate go with her, ‘forging steel in her spine’:
‘When the smoke clears, they will light
the fires on her path.’
This gripping ‘poetry-novel’ asks us to consider whose truth prevails, how the madness of loss and grief unspools, and what we understand privilege and entitlement to be. With a deft touch and emotional heft, the poems weave back and forth across fields of fault and blame, confused understandings, and a hopeful future.
This a free community event.