POETS TO THE PEOPLE
Dame Fiona at LembasBy Helen Tristram 29th March 2010
Bringing the mountain to Mohammed were Gill Ward`s words for the afternoon of poetry with Dame Fiona Kidman.
On Sunday, Lembas Café at Raumati South, was crammed with approximately 50 poetry enthusiasts for their monthly meeting. Sixteen of them read their own poems.
But the main attraction was Dame Fiona Kidman.
It was wonderful to hear her read from her new book of poetry called `Where Your left Hand Rests`.
The title poem arose from a dinner at a grand home in France, where Fiona had table manners explained to her by a beautiful French woman.
The poems all had wonderful stories to tell, and the anecdotes relating to many of them, including the following two, were interesting and amusing.
`Wearing Katherine Mansfield`s Shawl`
Dame Fiona related the story of wearing Katherine Mansfield`s shawl, whilst in Menton as the Katherine Mansfield Fellow.
The shawl was part of a Katherine Mansfield Exhibition and a photographer insisted she should wear it. She was struck by the strong smell of perfume that remained with the shawl and almost felt the presence of Katherine Mansfield with her.
`My Princess Grace Hat`
The poem says it all in fact, but another story from Dame Fiona was of stepping out grandly, wearing her `Princes Grace hat`, swathed in a silk scarf, to emulate her grandmother she had never met, but had seen in a photograph wearing such a hat.
There are 39 new poems in this collection, one dedicated to her husband Ian, others to her grandmothers and another to the New Zealand author Kirsty Gunn.
The volume is a beautifully presented hardback, illustrated throughout with images of sumptuous Victorian fabrics.
(A Godwit Book, Published by Random House.)