Plucky young upstart: An interview with Holly Hunter about Mimicry by Sarah Jane Barnett

 

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For the complete interview on Sarah’s blog go here.

Mimicry is a new Wellington-based literary and arts journal with poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art, and even music. It’s the brainchild of Holly Hunter, Assistant Editor at Victoria University Press. This week I had the pleasure of talking to Hunter about the journal, editing her friends, and what she sees happening in young writers’ work.

Sarah Jane Barnett: The journal’s opening page states that ‘Mimicry 1 is an act of nepotism,’ and that your contributors are your ‘incredibly talented and creatively driven friends.’ Tell me where the idea for the journal came from, and about the process of putting Mimicry together. I think many creative people have late night ideas, but most don’t go ahead. I’m glad you made this one happen – it’s a great read. What inspired you to make it happen? Was it difficult to edit and select work from your friends?

Holly Hunter: The opening page is as much a joke as it is a disclaimer, because I think most New Zealand journals are cliquey and nepotistic. In fact the journal was almost called Nepotism, but I backtracked when I realised that poor, well-meaning contributors would forever have it on their record that they were ‘published in Nepotism’—which isn’t exactly an impressive addition to a bio. If nothing else, I want to make a habit of pretentious, grandiose and controversial opening pages that either make the reader laugh or slam the journal shut. Journals could do with more character, I reckon, to live and breathe in their own right alongside the work.

The drive behind Mimicry was less calculated than how I think it’s been received. More than anything it was born from a sappy place of admiration for the people I know who live and breathe their creative side-hustles and deserve a space to display their work. But Mimicry also partly comes from a place of frustration with what I sometimes worry is a vortex of a literary environment. I like reading things that feel raw and contemporary, like they could spin out of control and off the axis, or that don’t care how they’re read but, at the same time, are tight and controlled. Mimicry’s approach isn’t entirely new; the chapbooks, journals and zines of Jackson Nieuwland and Carolyn de Carlo have been doing edgy, fresh things for years. One of their chapbooks, Bound: an ode to falling in love (Compound Press), is a diary of love poems from the perspectives of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Zines like theirs, and journals like The Lifted Brow, showed me what something like Mimicry could look like. It probably also helps that I’m a plucky young upstart with no sense of responsibility or consequence.

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