In 1911, Katherine Mansfield was 23 years old. I have loved her writing ever since I first studied her short stories at the precarious age of seventeen. My English teacher offered us a bite-sized selection to read – Her First Ball, Miss Brill and The Woman at the Store – and enquired afterwards, ‘what do the stories make you feel?’.
During the summer of my first year at Victoria University, I worked alongside my father in the lupin-covered landscape of Ōtūrehua. Home to Brian Turner and little else (population: twenty-seven), the Central Otago ‘so-called middle of nowhere’[i] town had its heyday in the late nineteenth century. Not keen on bringing the populace up to twenty-nine, my father and I rented a cottage in the nearby gold-rush town of Naseby.
I could never draw stars as a child. In fact, I used to be scared of them. How could anyone draw something with five perfect sides? A reflection on my inability to draw stars and overcoming my fear of imperfection.