Sunday, July 04, 2021

Sunday, July 04, 2021 1:10 am by M. in , , ,    1 comment
 This is a Brontë-inspired poetry chapbook recently published:
by Rachel J. Fenton 
2021//limited edition 60 copies

Rachel J Fenton is a working-class writer from Yorkshire. She lives in Aotearoa where she is also known as Rae Joyce and received a Creative New Zealand Arts Grant to research, write and draw a graphic biography of Charlotte Brontë’s best friend Mary Taylor, from which the poems in this chapbook sprang. She would tell you how much she has written but she has dyscalculia. She has some children and works in an op-shop.
Oamaru Mail interviews the author:
There are only 60 of Fenton’s hand-stitched poetry books in circulation, some of which will be stored in the Harvard University Archives.
Fenton wrote the book while she was in New York, researching Mary Taylor and looking back through her archived correspondence and friendship with Charlotte Brontë.
As someone from York exploring “New” York, Fenton also saw the existing effects of colonialism, something reflected in her poetry.
Funded by Creative New Zealand, her research took place in the New York Public Library Berg Collection and the Sherman Fairchild Reading Room, where she examined Brontë and Taylor’s letters and the contents that were hidden between the lines.
Taylor was born in Yorkshire and was known as an influential businesswoman and feminist.
She moved to New Zealand in 1845 and lived in Wellington for 13 years before returning to Yorkshire.
The more Fenton researched Taylor, the more problematic she became, as her story was one of colonialism.
The research was necessary for a graphic novel she was writing and illustrating about Taylor, which she hoped to publish in the next year.
With a background in art, Fenton was hand-drawing the cover of the novel – rebelling against the often exclusive digital method of creating comics.
The comic world also tended to be dominated by male stories or female stories written by men, she said.
When it came to Taylor’s story, there were few public sources to draw from and even fewer that were not dry academic passages.
Coming from a working-class background, Fenton felt accessibility was important and something she appreciated as a writer.
“You can inhabit a power you don’t have in real life and make social change for the better,” she said. (Ruby Heyward)

Sylvia Petter's Pages reviews the poems and Nuala O'Connor and Carolyn Gage interview the author.

1 comment:

  1. Kia ora, thank you for this lovely post about my work - much appreciated. :)