Of Resilience and Treasure – Jane Carswell and Janet Frame

My guest today is Jane Hole who writes as Jane Carswell.  This is to celebrate her writing and also the Australian edition of her second book, Talk of Treasure, launched recently. The First edition of this book, Makaro Press, 2016, sits temptingly beside me and before I know it I have delved into yet another chapter…again, which means I am not getting much writing on the page! Jane talks about her struggles as a writer. We other writers can take comfort from this sharing as her persistence has so far been awarded with acclaim. Her first book,‘Under the Huang Jiao Tree. Two Journeys in China’ won the Whitcoull’s Travcom Travel Book of the Year 2010 and was a Finalist in the Ashton Wylie Prize 2010.  Hand in hand with her writing are her ventures into meditation; her decision to be more open to the outside world, to open her house to boarders…most of them Chinese.  Then there are her travels; to China to teach English, to Australia and Italy to deepen her monastic experiences. Jane has a strong clear writing style filled with candour, humour joy and insight and is always ready to laugh at herself. I highly recommend this second book, not just for writers but for all of those who seek connection between their outer and inner selves. It’s an excellent and entertaining read…this extract, for example.

“In the days when New Brighton had the only Saturday shopping in Christchurch, our family, hair dripping from an early morning swim nearby, once watched a large man in the mall feed saveloys to a large dog. The chain he held above the St Bernard’s mouth melted down the chute. Serious eaters ourselves, we watched, mouths wide open in identification with the dog. My manuscript, I now see, is uncomfortably like the chain of saveloys: one incident after another disappearing smoothly into the unseeable.”

I asked Jane to choose a poem for us and she sent me three to choose from. I chose Rain on the Roof, by Janet Frame. At the time, my part of the country was undergoing a one in fifty years drought. So to talk of rain was to talk of treasure. Jane began her working life at Pegasus Press shortly after its  publication of Janet Frame’s novel Owls Do Cry. and has done much of her own writing in  Oamaru where Janet Frame lived. But what moves me is that way back, when Janet wrote the above poem, she had, as does Jane, a deep grasp on the ‘inner self’ and the peace and resilience to be found therein. At this time in our country’s psyche we all need the resilience of the iron that holds the lost sound of rain.
Rain on the Roof was first published in THE POCKET MIRROR (1967) by Janet Frame and copyright Janet Frame Literary Trust. Thank you to Pamela Gordon, Literary Executor for Janet Frame for permission to use it on this blog. For a detailed account of Janet Frame and her writing please go to the Janet Frame website here.
Jane Carswell Bio in Brief:
Jane Hole, who writes as Jane Carswell, lives in Christchurch where she reads and writes, meditates and is a Benedictine oblate, has adult piano students who teach her a lot of other things, enjoys her untidy, friendly garden, and fishes on Canterbury’s magnificent rivers and coastline whenever she can. She’s married with two children, and four grandchildren who remind her what’s really important. She has published two books, both memoir: ‘Under the Huang Jiao Tree. Two Journeys in China’ and Talk of Treasure. You can buy both Jane’s books here.
Some Reviews of Talk of Treasure
‘Carswell’s understated writing has a rare clarity and honesty.’
The Dominion Post

‘Her powers of description are so acute and tender. An enjoyable and fascinating account of the ways in which our passions enable us to become fully human.’
Ruth Fowler, Community Meditation teacher

‘Jane Carswell treads not only carefully, but thoughtfully and originally.’
The Age

I highly recommend both books.  Thank you for being my guest today Jane!