Monthly Archives: November 2018

Poet Alice Miller is the winner of the Landfall Essay Competition 2018




Alice Miller, a New Zealand writer based in Germany, is the winner of the Landfall Essay Competition 2018.

Her winning entry ‘The Great Ending’ impressed with “its teeming yet elegantly controlled catalogue of international and national, Pākehā and Māori historical events”, says competition judge and Landfall editor Emma Neale.

Alice Miller says her essay began to write itself about five years ago, when she was working on another project about the home front.

“It is indebted to the National Library’s amazing Papers Past archive, which I quietly believe is one of the best things on the internet.”

The judge’s report noted her essay stood out for the lyricism of the prose, which “glided from moments of understated comedy to those of stark horror”.

“The essay uses the catalogue and a lyrical style to evoke complexity and simultaneity — it achieves both lament and a kind of guarded eulogy. It lifts its focus to the retreating horizon of history, pulling it closer in the way it colours the telling with plangent grace,” says Emma Neale.

Second prize winner was Susan Wardell’s ‘Shining Through the Skull’ and third place was awarded to Sam Keenan’s ‘Bad Girls’.

There were two highly commended essays: ‘Aquae Populus’ by Toby Buck and ‘That’s Not a Māori Name: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Aotearoan adventure’, by Derek Schulz.

A further five essayists were commended: Bryan Walpert (‘One Eye Open’), Justine Whitfield (‘The Klimt Bubbles’), Kirsteen Ure (‘Puriri Moth’), Jocelyn Prasad (‘Uncut Cloth’) and Nadine Hura (‘A Thing of the Heart’).

Alice Miller wins $3000 and a year’s subscription to Landfall.

The winning entries will be published in Landfall 236, available later this month. Landfall is published by Otago University Press.

Around 90 anonymous entries were received in this year’s competition, an increase of around a third on the 2017 competition.

For more information about the Landfall Essay Prize and past winners, go here

Alice Miller’s new poetry collection, Nowhere Nearer, is published by Auckland University Press and Liverpool University Press.

See my interview with Alice here






A poem from Pat White’s Watching for the Wingbeat: new and selected poems


There’s much more going on here

for Hone Tuwhare


From where we sat talking the hills take on a painter’s

tone, light and dark, valley and ridge, bush at night

with the small owl sounding far enough away. Both of us

a bit deaf, we shout observations across the back porch


two old gramophones not quite used to listening. Today

stumbling across that ridge, half-lit seen at dusk last night

it’s different, each step testing mud-slide sheep track

fallen trees, such subtle geomorphology, rough slopes facing


north, telling how little distant perspective gets to know

of that hare bursting from beside your foot, fooling

with your sharp-eyed observations about literature

of landscape borrowed from an unpaid library book.


Old Bess the bitch would have given chase once, but today

she thinks better of activities meant for puppied bounce

the silliness of charging off up hill when there’s perfectly

good bones back home rotting under the macrocarpa


it’s enough to be out there, reading the breeze. I watch

you stop, lay a flat hand against grass bruised and bent

by the hare’s body warmth, her form hid beside dead thistle

stalks, dry and buff coloured in winter, it is still warm.


This hare has learned to be elusive, still, till instinctive

urge to flight has her bursting away, past the skylark’s nest

through the rusting fence, pushing the heart’s capacity

to run. We romance the hills from our chairs, our beer


out of the sun’s heat, the rain’s beat, knowing

next to nothing. The risk of leaving our bones out there.


©Pat White  Watching for the Wing Beat: new and selected poems Cold Hub Press, 2018)




Pat White is a writer and artist living near Fairlie. He has an MFA from Massey University, and an MA in Creative Writing from IIML Victoria University. In August 2018 Roger Hickin’s Cold Hub Press published Watching for the Wingbeat; new & selected poems. In 2017 his biography/memoir of the teacher, author, environmentalist, Notes from the margins, the West Coast’s Peter Hooper, was published. An exhibition Gallipoli; in search of family story has been shown in museums and art galleries a number of times in recent years.

Sport 46 launch



We don’t usually hold a launch for Sport but issue 46 is too crazy good not to. Please come celebrate!

With readings from Bill Manhire, Rose Lu, Jane Arthur, Oscar Upperton, Anthony Lapwood, Freya Daly Sadgrove and Nikki-Lee Birdsey.

Thursday 22 November (that’s next week!)
at Vic Books, Kelburn Parade, Victoria University of Wellington.



2 poems and a conversation – All of Us by Adrienne Jansen and carina gallegos




she waits

for her children

to fall asleep

before she opens

their schoolbags

and studies their homework.

they learn

so much faster

and she’s falling behind.

they speak her language

with an accent now

and she can’t

understand what they say

when they speak

among themselves

in their new

mother tongue.


carina gallegos




Lost in translation


Lev has learnt

the word in English.


He points at the book

and says in his thick accent


It’s freezing cold,

frost on the window.

‘Rabbit’ comes out

in a rush of smoke.

‘No’ I say,

‘that’s not a rabbit.’

I point at the book.

‘It’s a pig.’

He breathes heavily,

clouds of white steam

rising around him.

He goes to the window.

A dog is running

on the white grass.

‘Rabbit!’ he shouts

‘Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!’

and bursts into tears.


Adrienne Jansen



©Adrienne Jansen and carina gallegos All of Us, Landing Press, 2018

Watch a clip from the book launch



Adrienne and carina  gave me kind permission to post their conversation which forms the  introduction to the collection.


Where did these poems come from?

Adrienne: I wanted to write a series of poems from two perspectives: what does someone from Syria, for example, experience when they go to a railway station, compared to what I experience going to a railway station? What would happen if we each wrote about our experience of the railway station?

So I started to write a series of poems that were about ‘there’ and ‘here’. One of the reasons it appealed to me was because I didn’t want to take on the voice of the migrant or refugee. I might be recording the stories and experiences they’ve told me, but I’m not taking on their voice.

Now you can talk about where your poems came from.

carina: my poems aren’t imagined either, they’re just sharing the experiences that people have shared with me. they’re the observations of ‘here’ and ‘there’, when you work with people or communities from refugee backgrounds, you hear these stories over and over again. the stories go on for days and people experience them in their heads every day, and to tell them in a poetic context brings them alive in a more succinct way. but we don’t get to experience the ‘there’, we only experience the ‘here’.

coming from a migrant background it was easy for me to relate to some of their stories too.

Adrienne: Both of us are retelling the stories that we’ve heard and heard and which we think are very important to pass on, and in this case, we’re recording them in poetry.

carina: exactly. it’s storytelling poetry.

that was the other part of the vision – that we were going to write poetry that was accessible to a wide range of people. it wasn’t conceptual poetry, it wasn’t difficult, it was poetry that a lot of people could read and understand, even if there were other layers of meaning, even if there were stories between the lines. there was something there, regardless of whether you could read between the lines or not.

Adrienne: Tell me why you don’t use capital letters.

carina: because i don’t like capital letters.

Adrienne: Because … ?

carina: ever since i was a little girl i’ve had an issue with authority (that’s a longer conversation). i don’t mean for the lack of capital letters to be an obstacle for people. it’s quite common for poets to play with capital letters and punctuation and with the aesthetics of letters and words. i love full stops and commas and use them in a very traditional way. i just don’t like capital letters. i don’t even use them to spell my name.

Adrienne: So that was a challenge for us, how to combine two quite different styles. I use capitals and punctuation because I see them as a kind of small signpost to the reader and a kind of fine-tuning for the writer. That would be my approach.

But there are other differences in style too. Like yours – would you describe your style as Latin American style? It’s more discursive.

carina: we talk a lot. latin americans, i mean.

Adrienne: You talk a lot. Right. And of course, New Zealanders don’t talk so much. This could be very interesting!

carina: we’re long-winded people.

Adrienne: That’s why you’ve got longer poems than mine. We’re both being true to type.


carina: and there’s also the weather factor. we’ve been told that in the poems it rains a lot. the weather here is not tropical. if we lived in central america or south america, we’d be writing about mugginess or bad hair days. but in new zealand the challenge is the weather, even for people who were born here. it’s the cold weather that challenges people.

Adrienne: So that’s why it rains a lot.

carina: that’s why it rains a lot.

Adrienne: In the poems.

carina: because in new zealand it rains a lot.


From All of Us, published by Landing Press November 2018


Carina Gallegos has a background in journalism and development studies. She grew up in Costa Rica, moved to New Zealand thirteen years ago, and has worked with refugee-background communities since 2011. She lives in Wellington with her family.

Adrienne Jansen has published numerous books (poetry, novels, nonfiction). She teaches on the Creative Writing Programme at Whitireia Polytechnic. For ten years she was part of the writing team at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. She lives in Wellington.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle’s ‘From the discomfort of my own home’



I had a brief period last week where I didn’t hate everyone. But now I’m back to hating everyone. Someone from an online dating website asks me if I am going to this music festival because everyone he knows is going and he feels left out. I’ve never heard of it, I say, I don’t even know what that is. I say I don’t have any friends though so maybe that’s why I don’t hear about these things. He says, everyone loves to say they don’t have friends when they actually do. I say, Yeah, and everyone loves to say to people who say they don’t have any friends, that they actually do have friends because they’ve never been in a position where they haven’t had friends so they can’t actually imagine it. Well, your negative energy is probably putting off potential friends right now, he says.




Woke up to a message from someone I haven’t spoken to in a while that said “hey so if u could send me nudes that would be appreciated, I’m going to jail soon for 2-3 years.” The only thing I have going for me right now is that I have good nipples and good eyelashes. On the train on the way to a job interview I’m looking at my own nudes to build my confidence. The interviewer asked me what I was doing between 2013 and 2015 and I didn’t feel like I could say debilitating depression and poor physical health so I said I worked as an English tutor for an educational company, but then she asked for a reference from them.




Is the noise I can hear coming from the inside of the building or the outside, I can’t tell. No one is replying to any of my messages. Last week I was supposed to go on a date with someone who already cancelled on me twice. The first time he said he was too tired, the second time he said the weather was too warm. I said to him, look, if you have changed your mind about meeting, that’s ok, let me know, otherwise we could do Thursday. He didn’t acknowledge the part of the message about changing his mind or not, he just went ahead and made a third plan for Thursday. But when I woke up on Thursday, there was a message from him at 7.50am that said he couldn’t meet up. He said he’d gone to his therapist and realised he wasn’t in the right state to meet people at the moment. Well, I could have told you that for free, I wanted to say, but I didn’t reply.



©Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle


Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle is from Auckland, NZ and currently lives in Melbourne. She is the author of Autobiography of a Marguerite (Hue & Cry Press, 2014). Her chapbook, nostalgia has ruined my life, was recently a finalist for the Subbed In Chapbook Prize 2018. You can donate to their fundraising campaign here