I have been musing on the variety of journals we have, both in print and on line, that are publishing poetry, various fictions, essays, images. Each issue feels like a one-off gathering that provokes, surprises, consoles and delights. I sometimes feel I have wandered into someone’s front lounge and am eavesdropping on the conversation currents of a mix of house guests. Sometimes it feels like family – kindred poets – other times it is altogether different. Nobody is afraid to say what they feel. Or get political. I like that.
MIMICRY 5 is edited by Holly Hunter and Ollie Hutton (Mouthfull Productions); the contributors epitomise a cool new wave of writers – some barely published, some gaining recognition in the performance / slam / spoken word scenes. The images are excellent plus you get a Mimicry mixtape.
Eliana Gray‘s terrific debut collection Eager to Break is recently published – so how very fitting to have their poem ‘Sometimes I wonder if my salt water mouth / should be allowed to speak at all’ open the gathering. The first line sets up the poem: Sometimes I wonder if my poems should have been tweets’. Each line shimmies as both poetry and as potential tweet and the effect is glorious – I am swung and I slide and the effect is mood and it is dark and it is burning.
Alisdair Armstrong is studying at Victoria University and loves rock climbing which makes sense when you read ‘Sitting in a blast crater’. This is his first published piece of writing and it is wry and deft and I am loving the image of the speaker sitting ‘at the bottom of a blast crater in a puddle’. This is the line I love: ‘I introspect for awhile.’ The scene would be enough to delight but other people turn up and then it is just exquisitely funny.
We’re lying down in this crater, we tell him.
He asks why we haven’t got out.
We tell him we’re introspecting.
Molly Robson‘s three photographs are eye-popping (‘Tongariro’ is B & W but the others use a palette of surreal orange-reds with distancing and estranging grey /blacks. The empty rooftop chair is unbearably uncanny. I want to sit in it. I want to sit in it and read a novel until the sun comes up. The tilts will be numerous.
Rhys Feeney‘s ‘current mood’ is genius in the way it catches the overwhelming anxiety we feel as we face climate change and the loathsome mountain of products that will outlast us.
there’s a feeling in your chest
& it’s not going anywhere
it has the permanence
of a pile of used plastic
on the oil-slick surface
Erik Kennedy follows suit with ‘Microplastics in Antarctica’. This is poetry at its most vital – making connections with a groundswell of global protest; poetry is linking ideas and anxious voices and I applaud it.
The snow contains a finer snow.
That’s how it gets there, this plastic
that maybe one kept a lettuce green
or packaged another plastic package.
Scratch the scalp of civilisation
and bits of it go all over the place.
Concerned about those embarrassing flakes?
You should be.
Enter this lounge and you will find the miniature scenes of Rebecca Hawkes, rich in physical detail, feeling and sonic surprises along with Jordan Hamel‘s genius found mash-up that evokes a ‘Regular Kiwi Bloke’.
What I love about these literary lounge gatherings is meeting new voices. Sometimes it is like an electric shock upon skin – like how good can poetry get? Michaela Keeble is an Australian writer living with her family just north of Wellington. She writes climate-change press releases and has published fiction and poetry in various places. Her poem ‘Bob Marley was a poet’ had me listening hard because it feels so fresh and surprising and full of invigorating movement. The poem sets your attention in myriad directions, leaves gaps for you to traverse, gathering together politics, intimate thoughts, the beauty of the moon and the river, the joy of contemplation.
a few days after Waitangi Day
Bob Marley’s birthday
I sit down at the side of the river
the river is an estuary
is homemade paper
Rose Peoples brings an equally satisfying moment of attentiveness to ‘Hoots’. But here the poet/storyteller pivots and leaps off from the hooting ruru; and poetry becomes a form of storytelling that is to be savoured. Slowly. Sweetly. You need to read the whole poem but here is the opening stanza:
The ruru hoots each night
with a regularity which rivals the
tinny beeps of the digital watch.
The sound is directionless
it simply sits in the air,
In this version of the story,
it s the glow of the streetlights
that makes its way through
the gaps in the blinds.
The final charismatic poem, Jane Arthur’s ‘Snowglobe’, showcases the addictive mix of verve and imagination that you find in her poetry. Watch this space for my musings on her new collection Craven.
I have just realised
I have just now realised
I am in a snowglobe! and that is why
leaves blow around and around but never away
and that is why I feel shook up
amazingly shook up so often.
MIMICRY probably features more artwork than any other local literary journal – and again features excellent lounge guests. For me MIMICRY 5 was like a well-needed retreat from routine and requests. I loved it. Such invigoration. I look forward to the next one!