Publications from Titus Books
2005 ~ present
Publications from Titus Books
2005 ~ present
Last night I dreamed that history was correcting itself. A huge hand lifted houses off the plain, as though it were clearing the board after a game of monopoly. Cows swelled to the size of hot air balloons, and drifted away over the Firth of Thames. The eels made themselves into question marks, as their ditches ran like mountain streams. In the emptied fields kahikatea got slowly to their feet, stretched their branches, and shook themselves dry, like the resurrected dead on Judgement Day, or swagmen after a kip. All those straight roads were rolled up like barbed wire. I looked down, and saw both my legs dissolving into the cool forest air...
‘Never Get Taken to the Second Location.’
This book abducts you. It takes you to unfamiliar places. Using the doomed love affair of painter Rita Angus and musician Douglas Lilburn as a backdrop, Bronwyn Lloyd’s first collection of stories is a leap into the surrealist dark. From her tale of doppelgänger suicide, ‘Sink or Swim,’ to the haunting cancer landscape of ‘Kaikuia,’ this collection may be strange, disturbing, and worrying, but it is never dull.
Bronwyn Lloyd completed a PhD in English at the University of Auckland in 2010. Her doctoral thesis provides a literary and art historical account of Rita Angus’s symbolic portraits. Since 1999 Bronwyn has published catalogue essays and articles on New Zealand painting, applied art and design as well as a number of short stories. She currently teaches Academic and Creative Writing at Massey University, School of English and Media Studies (Albany) and works as a freelance writer and curator.
The editor of the book Dr Scott Hamilton, who is himself a widely-published scholar and poet, has complemented the poems with an introduction and extensive notes. “These poems are taonga”, Hamilton says. “They show us that Smithyman was a poet not just for the twentieth but for the twenty-first century. The rest of us are in some ways still trying to catch up with him.” Associate Professor Peter Simpson of The University of Auckland, who knew Smithyman as a friend and colleague and edited his Selected and Collected Poems, praises the new book for adding to our understanding of Smithyman. “Smithyman is the Walt Whitman of New Zealand” Simpson says. “He contains multitudes, because his interests were so vast. In many ways he is a mountain we have yet to climb. I hope this book helps find him a new generation of readers, and delights established Smithymaniacs.
Kingdom of Alt is Ross’s second book of short stories.
Published Sept 2009
Gregory O’Brien described Richard von Sturmer’s last published work, Suchness: Zen Poetry and Prose, as “a book of almost hallucinogenic clarity”. In his new prose collection, On the Eve of Never Departing, von Sturmer shines his clear, poetic light on a number of subjects, ranging from growing up in Auckland in the 1970’s to Zen encounters in T’ang Dynasty China. Landscapes and paintings play a predominant role, and the reader will find him/herself exploring the south-western deserts of the United States as well as the canvases of Antonello da Messina and Casper David Friedrich. Gem-like details from the early Renaissance, echoes of German Romanticism, and the streets of Auckland city all form part of this unique work.
Rogelio Guedea is a Mexican poet, essayist, and novelist currently residing in New Zealand. His last book Driving a Trailer Truck (Random House Mondadori, 2008). was awarded the Silverio Cañada Prize 2009 granted to the best Spanish novel published in 2008. He is a columnist for the Mexican newspapers Ecos de la Costa and La Jornada Semanal and currently coordinates the Spanish and Portuguese Programme at the University of Otago.
Just on the border between the prose poem and poetic prose these short narrations by Rogelio Guedea never cease to surprise with their powerful emotions locked in everyday scenes so that they acquire a strange tinge of exoticism. – Sandra Cohen.
Ted Jenner is a poet, translator, and classical scholar who was born and bred in Dunedin. He has spent the last forty years living in Africa, Europe, and the northern parts of Aotearoa, publishing his work in a variety of literary journals. Writers in Residence is a compilation of most of Jenner’s short fiction and prose poetry written in the last twenty years in New Zealand and Malawi. It has as its basic theme a search for meaning in a world which is resistant to such a search -- the meaning lies in the exploration itself.
Direen’s fifth novel Enclosures is infused with restlessness: its interlocking stories move between France, Iraq, Wellington, and some of the wilder sections of the New Zealand coast. Like Direen’s 2006 novel Song of the Brakeman, which was full of frightening allusions to Guantanamo Bay, Enclosures is unified by the theme of imprisonment. Like Direen himself, the characters of Enclosures are shiftless figures, determined to escape the oppressive governments and obsolete and encumbering codes of behavior that threaten to overwhelm them.
In the third volume of his REM trilogy, after the urban inferno of Nights with Giordano Bruno (2000) and the purgatorial stasis of The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis (2006), Jack Ross explores the closest thing to a paradise his cast of crazies can conceive of, let alone aspire to.
Ross is a lapidarian scholar, fluent in half a dozen languages, but he is also a passionate fan of America’s Next Top Model, and his writing has always refused to distinguish between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. The very look of EMO mocks the conventions of both literature and academic scholarship - texts are artfully layered on its outsize pages, alongside photographs, cartoons, and cryptic diagrams. Ross’s prose is full of dirty jokes, as well as learned asides and sad observations. EMO could keep you busy for years on a desert island – Scoop review of books.
Marked Men tells the story of love between two men. The drama has a dream-like quality, that affirms the isolation and fragility of a human being, bordered by skin, who aches for connection in the embrace of another. David Lyndon Brown draws us into a world in which the interplay of radiance and darkness, joy and terror would be relentless if it were not interspersed with moments of searing wit and solid friendship.
A former freezing worker and sparkie who has lived all his life in the working class Auckland suburb of Panmure, Richard Taylor combines a love of language and learning with an earthy vibrant humour. Mixing pub slang and physics, street yarns and chess tips, his poems are both intellectual and highly accessible.
To the Moon, In Seven Easy Steps by Scott Hamilton
Auckland Ph. D. student Scott Hamilton’s first book of poetry inhabits the twilight zone between fact and fantasy, prose and poetry. For Hamilton, writing is a game, a joke, a puzzle, a protest, and a quest - sometimes all at the same time.
Will Christie’s poetry is fascinated by the power of language to inhabit and be inhabited. Christie questions her words as she uses them — tearing them apart or gathering them up, chasing them around or wilfully creating new ones — with an alert attention to what they contain and how they affect us. By turns playful and violent, cerebral and romantic, funny and moving, these poems take nothing for granted. What they reveal will often surprise you.
Song of the Brakeman by Bill Direen
Bill Direen’s fifth novel takes place in a world where the earth’s resources are almost exhausted, the water supplies are contaminated and parts of the landmasses have imploded. A life and death struggle occurs between two irreconciliable forces: one in possession of the earth’s remaining wealth and power, the other carrying the genetic key to the survival of mankind. Vibrant language and a fast-paced narrative define this Ballardesque journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape.
The subject of Jack Ross’s latest book is amnesia. A man washes up alone on a beach with no memory of who or where he is; a woman finds him and takes him back to her house. He scans her library to find some clue to his past, his location. Could this strange new world be Atlantis? Jack Ross captures the disoriented state of his lead character in the very layout of the novel. Fragments of text and narrative weave together to reveal a mind searching for its past, its identity.
Through public appearances and recordings Olivia Macassey has established herself as one to watch. Not only a distinctive voice, she is developing a compelling personal style. Her work dares to disrupt what have become poetic formulae. And yet, if you take time to read and reread it, you will not find one line in Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction that is obscure, not one page that does not raise a smile of recognition, not one poem that does not astound you. With the gentle balance of its lines, the craft of its composition and the depth of its perception of the deepest of emotions, Olivia has created a work which not only promises much, it is warm and intelligent work in itself.
Direen’s fifth book of poetry was generated by a stay south-east of Auckland in 2005. These poems are a response to place, to landscapes, to seascapes, and to the seasonal occurrences he found there. They are a personal, a psychological document, a poetic analysis of contemporary New Zealand, as well as a philosophical analysis of the past as it is contained in our present. If some of the poems are emphatically musical and require a musical sense to “hear” them, others are instantly-perceptible Whitman-like reflections upon the variety and force of today’s New Zealand -- and its Sealanders.
Either Side The Horizon by Stephen Oliver
In Stephen’s work to date, he has never relented in his attacks. His satirical work, of which there is a fair representation in Either Side The Horizon, lampoons not so much political figures as their methods and the institutional hypocrisy they have inherited. His favourite targets are those who say one thing while doing another, be they oil lords controlling the happiness and destinies of millions of families, or those appointed by an elite to govern the standards of passionless culture. Either Side The Horizon is a fine example of Oliver’s nerve, his critical eye and his occasionally combative stance.
Olwyn’s story is a concentrated hymn to slackers and bogans everywhere. All those ex-hippies, all those old metallers, all those drug-addled potheads have found, at last, their laureate. She understands them, she can paint them with devastating wit and accuracy — but, above all, they amuse her. One feels almost as Sargeson’s first readers must have felt when his Kiwi characters started Speaking For Themselves.
The actual present of this novella is a rock concert in Seattle, but seventeen years are contained in that present. William Direen (aka songwriter Bill Direen) explores pleasures and regrets, hopes and anxieties.
I’m feeling the cold and the thinness of the air. I’m gaining in size. I’m trying to turn. I’m swimming again in a fluid thickening. My head goes under. I thump into a wall. My head is throbbing, my skull is about to crack. The beat of a drum as loud as I can stand and the swirl of a deafening Wurlitzer. I am curled up in the ear of a dragon. Blood is pulsing under a membrane, I am in a tympanum, in a blood vessel in a dragon’s brain, on the warm side of a peritoneal wall that separates us - me and another - from others.
Trouble in Mind by Jack Ross
Trouble in Mind is an intense voyage into the life of a young woman, and a serious reflection upon the art of novel-writing. It is at once a twenty-first century novel and not a novel at all, but an eyeball, subject and object, made up of a million cells.
Experimental, assured, contemporary and local, Trouble in Mind is a healthy new leaf in the old stick of New Zealand lit. — Katherine Liddy, Landfall #214