Monthly Archives: May 2016

On editing – Sarah Jane Barnett interviews Ashleigh Young

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A new post at The Red Room:


I like to read and review New Zealand poetry, and because I live in Wellington quite a few of these collections come from Victoria University Press. When Ashleigh Young began working as their editor, I began to notice her careful hand on the collections. I asked Ashleigh a few questions about being an editor.

Sarah Jane Barnett: I was watching the show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Jerry Seinfeld asked Barack Obama, ‘If politics was a sport, what sport would it be?’ So, if editing was a sport, what sport would it be?

Ashleigh Young: I was about to say cricket – long bouts of brooding interrupted by sudden bouts of high-speed action and head-clutching – but you can say that about almost anything. About life. I wonder if maybe editing is a bit like tenpin bowling. Every bit of editorial interference is a small act of violence, essentially trying to knock things down – but there’s this attempt at elegance, at the graceful flourish. And then there’s the stubborn beauty of the pins that remain standing. Also, tenpin bowling is the sport of grudging office team-building that ends up being quite fun.

Just contradicting myself, though, I think there’s something intrinsically un-sporty about editing. The writer and the editor shouldn’t feel like they’re adversaries grappling for ultimate power. No one should be spraying champagne around if they ‘win’. They can do that at the book launch.


For the rest of the interview go to Sarah’s blog: here

The Divine Muses Poetry Reading & Unity Books Auckland – 2016 EMERGING POETS COMPETITION



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Entry now open for: New Voices – Emerging Poets Competition

Judge – poet and teacher Vana Manasiadis


Results announced at Divine Muses Poetry Reading on National Poetry Day, 26th August 2016

First Prize: $200 in Unity Book’s book tokens Second Prize: $100 in Unity Book’s book tokens


Closing Date: 1st  August 2016


The competition is open only to writers considered ‘emerging’

i.e. have not published one or more books (fiction, poetry, nonfiction) with a New Zealand or overseas publisher,


is a current or former undergraduate (BA, Hons, BSc, BComm etc) or Masters student attending The University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, Manukau Institute of Technology and Massey University (Albany Campus, Auckland only)


Poetry Shelf Poem – Heidi North-Bailey’s ‘The Women’ is like a delicious sweet almond with a bitter sweet kernel

Mary McCallum from Mākaro Press and Heidi North-Bailey have given me permission to post this marvelous mother poem from Heidi’s debut poetry collection.  The poem is so beautifully lyrical, exquisitely layered, the gaps large and resonant, the line of women vital; the hidden stories pull you back for another look, and then another. This is one of my favourite poems of the year to date.

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©Heidi North-Bailey 2015


Possibility of Flight cover WEB


Submissions open for Sweet Mammalian


Send us your writing, be it a roar, purr, or pip-squeak.

Sweet Mammalian aims for diversity and inclusiveness—we want all different kinds of poetry, from all different kinds of writers. In order to make this possible we need your submissions, so send us your thrilling writing!

Submit up to 5 poems of any length. Please send your work in a word doc attachment to and include a short bio note in the body of the email.

Submissions for Issue Four are open now. We’ll be accepting submissions until the end of August.

Go here

Poetry Shelf Poem: ‘Listening In’ by Lynley Edmeades

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Listening In


The mere presence of her was the necessary part.

Over-hearers, their little coves of ears

were, of course, listening in.

Together, we could hear history

painting a diagram of itself, and things began

to form layers. My mother’s hand

upon the pillow, the pillow soft upon the bed.


©Lynley Edmeades from  As the Verb Tenses Otago University Press 2016



This mother poem is a perfect advertisement for a collection that shows how real life can give poetry a vital tang; that poems excised from who you, where you and where you are from sometimes lack the power to kick start your heart from daily routine. The gaps are resplendent. The detail: lyrical, tender, uplifting, deliciously layered.

Everything slows down to a leisurely pace.

Elsewhere in the book: ‘You’re wondering what to do with this, this slowness.’

Absorb and connect. Absorb and connect. This is a terrific debut (oh! and a stand-out cover).




Cyphers – Irish J0urnal has a NZ poetry feature



Last night I dreamed I was heading to Europe (only way I will be doing this is in a poem!) but the airplane was more like a truck so I pulled out at the last moment. Much better to open a parcel this morning and find a cluster of NZ poems in an Irish setting.

Plus Roger Hickin from Cold Hub Press shares some thoughts on NZ poetry.