Waiting for Doget: or not talking with Tauranga Writers Inc.

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 Abuse comes in many and varied forms.   You can make people ride in the back of the bus. You can have separate places and spaces.   You can not hire certain categories of people. You can pay people less. You can deny certain people access to education…….   I know from my work in the community and as a Family Court lawyer in South Auckland that abuse and discrimination are much more widespread and subtle than that.

 So, a small warning bell sounds in the farthest recess of my mind when, asking me to outline ARTbop’s contributor requirements to Tauranga Writers Inc, Jenny Argante mentions I’m speaking with someone whom the other magazine Editor she’s invited refuses to. I’ve met the man before – “give me 200 words”. Ignoring the bell I commit.

Argante, the immediate past president, reminds me several times that I am speaking at the Writers’ Sunday session on 18th March. I’m not a member of this group and, although Argante keeps referring to ARTbop – the Bay of Plenty’s online creative arts magazine – as a “newsletter” or “your little newsletter” I continue to indicate I’ll be there.

March is always a busy month. On the shoulder of summer and autumn it’s that time a Western Bay of Plenty life-styler is doing the pre-winter property clean up. The weekend of 16, 17 and 18 March 2018 is particularly busy for this ARTbop contributor. It’s the Whakamarama Hall Harvest Festival and the pre-fair meeting at the Black Sheep for the next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair.

The Whakamarama Harvest Festival Weekend is wonderful. We create an event we can build on. The potluck dinner is scrumptious. The children’s art work is inspirational. We are privileged to have Sharon and David Roy as the Festival judges. I win one of the raffles. We have a terrific time and I get home late Saturday afternoon “tired but happy”.

Sunday morning I’m up early and create an information package to support the afternoon’s meet with Tauranga Writers. I produce a couple of flyers including our ARTbop contributor requirements and an ad for alchemy the spoken word poetry group we’re starting up at the Black Sheep, Whakamarama. And, of course the next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair on the 25th of March.     Then, I’m down the hill to the Black Sheep for the Fair meeting.

I can’t find our meeting until I realise that the largest crowd and the biggest tables are the exhibitors of the Affordable Art & Artisan Fair.   Meeting ended Birgitt helps me load our street signs into the back of my little car.

At my favourite photocopier – WSL at the Crossing Tauriko –   I knock out 10 copies of my early morning ARTbop efforts and drive on up to my second home: the Greerton Library.   It’s after 2pm but as I’m the second speaker, my handouts and I are early!   And I’ve guessed right – there are 10 people seated within the Library meeting room and the first speaker, Antoon (call me Untone) Moonen of the Bay Waka, is in full-flight.

He’s wearing a European-style cuff-link requiring business shirt with his jeans and shiny black shoes.   The shirt is regulation pale blue with white-collar and cuffs (turned back) and red stitching around the button holes.   As I listen I realise Antoon (call me Untone) has never been to Toastmasters.

An eleventh member of the audience shows up. I recognize him: a man who’s previously told me, as I’m obviously so affluent, I have no right to opinions on social justice issues. Eh? At the time of his wildly inaccurate assessment of my financial resources, I’d never previously met him. Since then I’ve made sure to avoid any further contact.

I’d been told that we’re to speak about the contributor requirements of our respective publications – that’s one of my printed handouts. I discover Antoon (call me Untone) was a six figure executive but had a moment of enlightenment staring out over the Wellington foreshore.   During his European sojourn he learned he had been naïve but has returned “worldly” and with a significant appreciation of things Maori and Maori people – particularly the late Te Awanui Black whose name he drops as he references “Awa” and local marae.   I expect him to pukana and bring a piupiu out of his laptop bag.

Women’s Weekly now prints his magazine which has had a name change and is most probably “too Maori.” I wonder if I’m expected to tell this audience I was a member of the Auckland University Maori Club, their kapa haka group and organised a pre-Nga Tama Toa student conference?

My ears prick up when he mentions the magazine’s origins at the Welcome Bay Community Centre and the miniscule reference to some divergence of opinion.

Antoon (call me Untone) talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks. If this event started around 2pm he’s talked for about an hour and I still have no idea what the contributor requirements are for his publication. No one is apparently chairing or facilitating the meeting although on my arrival both Jenny Argante and Tom, the new Writers Inc. President, acknowledge me.

I’m suddenly glad I cancelled Dhaivat’s showing up with me. When I’d earlier advised Argante I’ve asked Dhaivat Mehta (who worked to develop ARTbop alternative, The ARTbopSHOW and the video content of the magazine) to come along too she says, “Well you’ll only get the same amount of time.” (I admit I didn’t then ask; “and how long is that?”) We’d both be sitting here now like cold Christmas puddings. And it really is cold: I know the Library air conditioning is a bit chilly and as usual, I’ve brought in a jacket.  

Antoon (call me Untone) eventually asks for questions and it’s about now I discover he writes for the Bay Waka under his own name, a nom de plume/pseudonym Jim Sawn (or is that Jim Swan) and no name at all and if his carefully cultivated Land Transport Agency centre-page advertiser did something “bad” he’d be able to “find something positive”.  

And, then Argante calls “teabreak” time. The chilly temperature is mentioned. It’s not possible to adjust it. Some of the audience leave to find warm clothing. There’s no mention that I’m there or that I’m to speak. The lovely lady I’ve sat next to tells me she cannot stay: it’s her 13-year-old Great Grand-daughter’s Birthday party. Would I miss a party like that?

I give her one of my ARTbop information packages. I mention alchemy the spoken word poetry group we’re starting: most probably not for her as she tells me poetry has to rhyme. I also meet a young woman who is new to the group. I give her one of my ARTbop information packages and mention the poetry group. Then, right in front of me I observe a vinegary exchange between Tauranga Writer’s Inc members Argante and Gillian Cook about publication printing cost quotes. Argante moves away and is comforted by another member of the group. Cook mutters to an adjacent member.

Argante says I was supposed to be there at 2pm and I’ve missed some of Antoon (call me Untone)’s talk. I point out she told me I was to speak “second”. I also have an “um” moment recalling February’s last minute text from Argante/Tauranga Writer’s Inc. to the Affordable Art & Artisan Fair, half an hour before it kicked off, “it’s not for them, they’re not showing up”. The last-minute cancellation of meetings because she’s meeting a “paying customer” or suddenly “too busy” and the hilariously rude showing up after the introductory AAAFair meeting had finished because “she was busy” doing something earlier.   And yes, Birgitt and I sat there and went through the whole process again with just her!

Argante tries to re-introduce me to Antoon (call me Untone) who says he didn’t recognize me and can’t recall our previous meeting but then remembers it all with clarity, including the paper handout. He says he was told I wasn’t coming and that’s why he’s talked so much. When I enquire who the shareholders in Bay Media Limited are he says “a trust”.

He shows me his new online website and tells me “he can help me”.   And so he does – he says he needs “just another five minutes to finish his talk” (outline his contribution parameters which hasn’t happened yet?).  And then he starts to talk, and talk some more.   It becomes even clearer why the other Editor wouldn’t appear with him.

I’d checked my phone before the teabreak and realised I’ve just spent my afternoon, when I could have been doing something useful, listening to Antoon (call me Untone). I’ve spent years being sent out to “listen” and I perceive that Antoon (call me Untone) most probably is not going to cease and as it’s now after 3.30pm and the library closes at 4pm (and no-one has mentioned otherwise) I might as well go and put out my Affordable Art & Artisan Fair street advertising.   I get up and exit the Greerton Library Meeting Room.

The Argante comes out after me, calling my name. I refrain from channelling those Dames, Tizard and Mirren. When I exit the library loo, the unsmiling Tauranga Writer’s Inc member and Tauranga City Council candidate Gillian Cook, like a dour dentist’s receptionist tells me “we are ready for you now”. I point out that the Library clock says it 3.40pm and while they may be “ready for me” – I’m well over them. I again refrain from repeating Dame Helen Mirren’s favourite phrase but I make it clear I wouldn’t want to be invited to anything else Tauranga Writers Inc might be thinking of doing.

Abuse? Tauranga Writers Inc and Antoon (call me Untone) Moonen were doing it to me today.   They won’t understand that and they won’t accept that: but that’s what they were doing.   As one of my young, wahine toa friends would say:   Sorry but, NO! And as the redoubtable Dame Helen Mirren would want me to say: Fuck off!  

And the punchline? Well, if you go through the ARTbop archives you’ll see that we have contributions from a number of people who are/have been members of or associated with Tauranga Writers Inc. They are diverse, thoughtful, well-written contributions.   Antoon (call me Untone) in his “just five more minutes” says he’s had two contributions from the Tauranga Writers Inc group; how bad they were and how he couldn’t use them or had to rework them. It’s only then he starts elaborating on the style of content he wants. Antoon (call me Untone) conclusively confirms he’s never been to Toastmasters. And the Bay Waka? I think I’ll just stay with ……

And here’s the handout I took along on the 18th; it’s an expanded version of the statement which appears at the end of many of the ARTbop contributions

ARTbop        Contributions If you would like to contribute to ARTbop email your contributions to editor@artbop.co.nz    When submitting to ARTbop we require you state that the contribution is your own original work and quotations are appropriately attributed. We prefer not to publish articles, reviews and content which have been previously published elsewhere by you. There is no restriction regarding the length of content although, we may divide significantly lengthy articles into parts or sections. The font which uploads most consistently to our website is Verdana size 12.

Images must be low resolution (high resolution is required for print media). If images are of high resolution on our website, they take too long to load (appear) and this can have a negative effect on the reader/viewer.   Images should be no more than 650kbs and submitted separately as jpegs. We require that you confirm the ownership and attribution of any images submitted. Please indicate in the text where images are to be placed if they specifically relate to a section of your content.   Sequentially number and caption your images and use that same information in the body of your text: 004 Harvest Festival junior school art work.

We generally do not significantly “edit” submitted content but we reserve the right whether to publish any contribution or not. We will not publish malicious, defamatory content or content we perceive as hate speech.  

We do not pay contributors for contributions in any format.

To submit a contribution email it to editor@artbop.co.nz .   If you have any questions or comments you can contact the Managing Editor of ARTbop, Rosemary Balu at rosemary@artbop.co.nz or on 571 8722 (there is a callminder on that number if she is not immediately available).

 

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info@artbop.co.nz     +64 7 571 8722 or 021 145 5810

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

alchemy

SPOKEN WORD POETRY

 

Join us every second Wednesday of the month,

6.00pm to 8.30pm

     at the

   Black Sheep Bar & Grill

Cnr SH2 and Plummers Point Road, Whakamarama

 

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

 

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810

Here’s a poem I wrote as part of a set prompted by my work in the area of domestic violence. At the time of this incident the processes regarding the criminal prosecution of family violence matters were not as thorough and organised as they are today. The Criminal Court would often not be aware of the severity of an assault against a woman or a child and unknowingly immediately release “offenders” back into the community. With the client’s consent, we “appeared” with a group of Refuge Workers and shared with the Judge the reality of the assault and opposed bail. The “offender’s” lawyer was even more enraged than his client.  

I’d checked with two senior colleagues about the unconventional appearance I proposed. One eventually wrote to me and told me such an appearance was not permitted. On the day, the other, a longtime advocate of the rights of everyone, told me to just do it: it was a new Judge and he’d be too scared to stop me: and he was.   On the second occasion this matter was called, I again asked this lawyer what I should do.   He laughed and told me, the Judge had heard me the first time; he had therefore acknowledged the importance of the information, my standing and right to be heard.   Everyone, including me, owes a debt to unconventional, persistent and justice-focused lawyers like the late Colin Amery.

 PROFESSIONAL COURTESY

My friend pushes me hard against

the wall as he rushes past

“You’re a witch with a pack of dogs”

spits from his contorted face

The women in the courtroom

foyer are both surprised and

accepting of his violence

Together we have returned

his client to the cell of custody

we have thwarted bail

We have shown the reality to

the newly installed judge and

the lawyer didn’t like it

after all he is a man

and we are only women

witches and dogs

Rosemary Balu

ARTbop

the Bay of Plenty’s creative arts magazine!

           read us online anywhere, anytime!

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