Three cultures collide

MARK RAFFILLS
Last updated 15:39 19/03/2014

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The experience of being Indian, born and educated in Malaysia and living in New Zealand feeds the pen of poet, short story writer and playwrite Sugu Pillay.

Pillay toured New Zealand last year to promote Flaubert's Drum, her first collection of poems. This month it is Nelson's turn to experience, via the spoken word, her perspective on the cultural interaction that is part of all our lives to some extent or other.

Pillay came to New Zealand in 1973 to study English. She completed her MA with First Class Honours at Victoria University, and went on to complete an MA in Education at the University of London.

Pillay's poems and short stories have appeared in literary journals including Sport, Takahe, JAAM, A Brief Description of the Whole World, Spin, Bravado, Voiceprints, Printout, brief and online journals Trout and Fugacity.

Awarded a Creative New Zealand Grant in 1997, she completed a collection of short fiction, The Chandrasekhar Limit and other stories, which was published by the Auckland Writers Group in 2002.

In a review for NZ Books, Rebecca J Davies comments on Pillay's writing saying it "investigates all the pernicious and empowering aspects of the exile so fundamental to the immigrant experience.

"Her work pitches the reader poetry, science, Malaysian cuisine, the common blue butterfly and the alphabet dreams against a discourse on memory, truth, and the nature of the narrative itself. It's a heady, disorientating and compelling mix."

In 2009 her play, Serendipity, premiered in Wellington. Her second play, Salaam Pukekohe, was co-winner of Playmarket's 2010 Write Out Loud award.

Kane Hogan andRebecca Davies will open the evening with tunes from the heart. They will be followed by a short open mic session showcasing local and visiting poets before Sugu Pillay takes the stage. A break will follow her performance after which the open mic will be turned on again for further readings and performances from the audience.

Nelson Live Poets Society, featuring Sugu Pillay, Monday March 24, doors open 6pm, the Yurt, Free House, Collingwood Street, Nelson. Further information:Carol Ercolano 03-545 0162, Mark Raffills 027 215 4969

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