Michael O’Leary’s Latest

front cover livin in auck.,Livin’ ina Aucklan’

By Alan Tristram

The well-known Paekakariki poet and writer Michael O’Leary has just launched a unique project — and he needs your help to fund it.

It’s all about poetry — his poetry — and a CD of songs based on his words.

The project is based on one of O’Leary’s books of poetry.

Left is the cover art work by Michael which includes a photo of him working on a night shift job
grinding concrete on Auckland’s main street, Queen Street.

At the bottom of the story is the drawing for the back cover of the CD plus some of O’Leary’s previous CD and poetry book covers.

This will be the fourth such CD and he has gathered 6-plus musicians and singers who are all previously recorded performers as
well as being seasoned live audience performers.

The CD will be made up of 10 songs and are of varying styles from reggae to jazz to folk and rock, and includes a poem sung in the style of a Maori lament.

Each song is about travelling around various parts of Auckland, evoking the people and cityscape. The budget is based on O’Leary’s last CD – Fences Fall (available on iTunes if you want to get an idea of the lyrics he writes plus some performances on YouTube at the concert which launched the CD) – which cost $10,000 all up, including a glass master for 500 copies.

The budget takes into account the fact that, for a reward to pledgeme participants, it is planned to offer a CD which includes a lyric booklet signed by Michael O’Leary plus other rewards.

Some comments on Livin’ ina Aucklan’ (the book):

Alex —
This is largely an anthology of older poems, tied together by the final long piece written some twenty years later, which really is the lynch pin of the whole collection – tying together the disparate fragments, casting a shadow that throws the older works into vivid 3d, and also showcases the poet’s development – there’s a much stronger sense of rhythm to my ear, and a
really clever turn of phrase.
I know that as an outsider I was missing layers of history and association that would resonate with Aucklanders, but O’Leary’s love for the city is unmistakable.

Rachel Rayner —

This collection is summed up in the title poem: “Romance is not confined to
the Orient Express/ and Mount Albert is as important as Montmatre/ if you
live there.”
Livin’ ina Aucklan’ is a love letter to the city. The collection is divided geographically and places are named (The Eden Terrace Factory, Penrose Railway Station, Grafton Graveyard), giving them a recognition and a power which must’ve been revolutionary when the collection was first published.
Livin’ ina Aucklan’ is a second edition. The first was published on paper, back in what I like to call ‘the olden days.’ Back in 1987, we were still enjoying synthesisers and the cultural cringe, and ereaders were the stuff of science fiction.

Despite its impressive vintage, Livin’ ina Aucklan’ still felt relevant, and much of the city is very recognisable. The North Shore’s Torbay is depicted as white and Remuera as rich. O’Leary spends much of the collection on buses and trains, getting from one side of the city to
the other.

But other parts of Auckland all but unrecognisable. The mention of factories threw me – it shows both how far Auckland has come and how
limited my experience of it really is. I enjoyed Livin’ ina Aucklan’ – I’d recommend it to all Aucklanders.

Comments on Fences Fall (2011 CD) by Michael O’Leary

‘After four decades of friendship, I thought Michael O’Leary had exhausted
his capacity to surprise me. But Fences Fall is wonderful in ways I didn’t
expect. It’s not just that the poignancy of Michael’s lyrics words strikes
me afresh when heard from a range of fine voices, the album really works in
musical as well as literary terms. O”Leary backed with cello and sousaphone.
Who would have thought that would work? But it’s magic!’

(Iain Sharp (reviewer for Metro Magazine)

‘Stunning tracks energised by O’Leary’s great lines. Take it neat or take it
on the road.’
(Michael Gifkins (New Zealand literary agent)

‘The track “I am a poet” is masterful, brilliant! . . . So too the other
tracks. Congratulations — you pass the audition. ‘
(Peter Olds — New Zealand poet)

You can help support this project by contributing through ‘pledgeme —