Do You Still Have Time for Chaos?
Did I disturb ye good people? I hopes I disturb ye, I hopes I disturb ye enough to want to see this, your house, in ruins all around ye! Have you had enough yet? Or do you still have time for chaos? —Words spoken in court by Temperance Lloyd when she was tried for witchcraft in Devon in 1682
Do You Still Have Time for Chaos? tells the story of poet and teacher Lynn Davidson’s late-life decision to leave Aotearoa New Zealand, with scant resources, to build a life in Scotland. In 2020, in the frightening quiet of a Covid-emptied Edinburgh, she begins her memoir; temporarily at home at the Randell Cottage residency in Wellington, she completes it.
Lynn Davidson’s long look back at what made and fractured her includes an account of single parenting with its shadows of poverty and stigma, and is interwoven with the ghostly presence of her uncontainable and courageous great aunt, and the long reach of witch hunts.
Do You Still Have Time for Chaos? is a love letter to the literature of Scotland and Aotearoa New Zealand. It has an ear to the land and its stories. It is a celebration of choice. It is an act of resistance to the persistent idea that women are safer to stay at home.
'This memoir weaves together particular interests in an agile way: place, motherhood, feminism, women’s history, contemporary ideas of witchcraft and magic, art, writing and reading. I loved it.' —Claire Mabey
'This compelling memoir explores the large themes of women’s experience and history, motherhood, migration and home; unusually for a woman, not tethered to a domestic space that she herself has created. Lynn Davidson ricochets from New Zealand to Scotland and back again, vividly recreating the landscapes she has inhabited. She is a brave spirit, in search of a life that will enable her to be the family member she wants to be, while remaining true to herself as the reader and writer she must be.' —Robyn Marsack
Poet, essayist and fiction writer Lynn Davidson grew up in Pukerua Bay, Wellington. She is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Islander (Te Herenga Waka University Press and Shearsman), a novel, essays and short stories. Lynn had a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013 and a Bothy Project Residency in the Cairngorms in 2016. She won the Poetry New Zealand Poetry Award in 2020, and was 2021 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writer in Residence. In 2023 she was the Mike Riddell Writer in Residence in Ōtūrēhua, Central Otago. Lynn calls Aotearoa New Zealand and Scotland home.
Cover drawings and design: Jules Bradbury