Auckland you are really shaping up for Poetry Day!
Auckland you are really shaping up for Poetry Day!
Holly Hunter has edited the latest issue of Mimicry. She has drawn together an eclectic package of art and writing that will place your finger on the pulse of emerging (well mostly!) voices. The magazine is devoted to poetry, fiction, nonfiction, comedy, music, art, photography and design. It is slim but is abundant in reading currents.
You even get a mix tape at bandcamp to listen to as you read.
Often when I pick up a poetry journal I gravitate to the familiar poets whose work I already love – like a music hook. I will share my initial hooks with the rain thundering down outside. In this case Morgan Bach because I haven’t read anything from her for awhile and I just loved her debut book, Some of Us Eat the Seeds. Her two poems here are honed out of cloud and snow and blood because they are light and airy and serious.
Looking for balance to the red interiors
in a calm sea of grasses, the dull love
of dust on a hillside, the caress of each
muscle as it contracts and expands
to pull me to a summit. That place
I would reuse to leave if I could,
but the hours have me by the ankles.
After hearing Emer Lyons read in Wellington last year, I jump to her poems in an instant. She is nimble on the page and in the ear, and tacks in fresh directions that retune me as poetry reader.
i talk too much at parties
every bee i see is dead or dying
people set fire to the sky
set the dogs howling
record themselves singing the same thing
(and The Fish goes
A A X B B X
1 3 8 1 6 8)
Chris Tse’s latest book, HE’S SO MASC, is a sublime read. I love this book because it risks and it opens. The poem here is ultra witty but dead serious.
20. It’s the way we step out of a burning theatre as if nothing’s wrong.
21. As if the smoke in our eyes is a lover’s smile caught in sunlight.
22. An uncontrollable fire is perfectly fine, given the state of the world.
23. Then why do I feel so angry?
24. Are you angry?
25. I’m angry.
from ‘Why Hollywood won’t cast poets in films anymore’
Essa Ranapiri was a highlight for me at Wellington Readers and Writers week this year. Their poem, ‘her*’, catches the way they make words ache and arc and slip between your ribs. You need to read the whole thing. To quote a glimpse is barely fair (two lines out of thirteen).
i left him wrapped in curtains
to stall the acid action of my stomach
I have only just discovered Rebecca Hawkes on The Starling. She is so good. The poem here is a linguistic explosion on the page: like an intricate and lush brocade that amasses shuddering detail and smatters expectation. You want to spend the weekend with this poem. (I want to hear her read so will be posting an audio clip of a Starling poem soon)
I ask their name and they make an unpronounceable sound / like the
curdling clink of cooling obsidian / so I call them the ultimate war machine
/ they hurl rocks into my enemies and when they beat the earth with their
fists / I feel the world quake under me / this is how I know I have fallen in
love / but also onto the ground
We are served well with fresh young literary journals at the moment (literary doesn’t seem to catch what they do). They keep you in touch with poets that continue growing on you but also take you into new zones of reading, with unfamiliar voices making themselves felt. Indelibly! I have just read Sophie van Waardenberg’s three poems and they touch me, make me want to write with their viscosity and tang.
my girl becomes a calendar and I curl up inside her
my girl becomes a tongue twister and I curl up inside her
my girl lets the spring in through her hands
she puts her hands over my ears and I remember how it feels
Cheers to a well-stocked journal to keep you going through wet wintry days. I am saving the rest of the journal for the next wild weekend. First up Louise Wallace (author of much loved Bad Things), Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor (the winner of the Landfall Young Writers Competition 2018) and Rachel O’Neill (who was recently awarded a NZ Writers Guild Puni Taatuhi o Aotearoa Seed grant to develop her screenplay).
The pleasure of good writing journals is that keep you in touch with what you know and catapult you into the unfamiliar where you accumulate new must-reads. Mimicry does exactly that.
See Mimicry on Facebook
Landfall 235 launches Emma Neale as the new editor. The cover aptly features ‘The House Party’; Kathryn Madill’s monoprint is strange and seductive with sunken black space and textured skin. It is like a poem that tempts and then holds you in an intricate grip. There is a Madill sequence inside that is equally sumptuous, surprising, lyrical.
This is an addictive issue – think of it as a musical composition that carries you through diverse and distinctive reading effects across an arc from first poem to final story. I do hope more Pasifika, Māori and Asian poets send in submissions for the next issue to increase the diversity of voice.
The two visual sequences (by Madill and photogapher Russ Flatt) are stunning. Flatt’s photographs reconstruct memories from the ‘subconscious grief’ and experience of growing up gay in Auckland in 1970s and 1980s. Wow. This is the power of art to take you some place that transcends ideas and feeling but that is ideas and feeling.
Landfall 235 also includes the winner of the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Competition, Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor, fiction (including a keenly observed piece by Airini Beautrais) and reviews. It welcomes established elders such as Elizabeth Smither and Bernadette Hall and barely published authors such as Sarah Scott and James Tremlett.
Here are a few poetry highlights:
Tracey Slaughter has turned from her dark, edgy must-read fiction to poetry. She was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize and I can see why. Her poem, ‘the mine wife’, with short-line fluidity, fictional momentum building, spiky detail, gritty feeling, is all about voice. A vulnerable, risking, space clearing, ‘self’ admitting voice:
the hand is a useless
surface for showing
the love it takes
to clear a path. Under
layers you wait for me to sift
your face from its mask.
from ‘the mine wife’
Lynley Edmeades‘ list poem, ‘The Age of Reason’, kicks off from Jean Paul Sartre’s title to move from ‘longing’ to ‘baby’, scooping up Simone de Beauvoir on the way, and all the staccato thoughts that propel a micro portrait: because why because how because who. I adore this!
Because fear of death
Because a dog might do
Because déjà vu
Because the trees
Because the population
from ‘The Age of Reason’
‘A Love Letter to My Mother: A work in progress’ by Wen-Juenn Lee is layered and probing and direct. I am wanting to read the whole work:
She takes astronomy classes at night.
I do not ask her why she stargazes
what she looks for in the oily darkness
we go to a poetry reading on migrant women
I do not tell her
I remember her crying on the plane
from ‘A Love Letter to My Mother: A work in progress’
Nick Ascroft’s playful word shenanigans in ‘A Writer Wrongs’ are a delicious shift in key as rhyme binds writer, hater and waiter:
So my fish is pallid.
So there’s a little pebble in my freekeh salad.
Is it necessary a balladeer batters
out a ballad?
from ‘A Writer Wrongs’
I haven’t encountered Rachel Connor‘s poetry before. She is a medievalist and a postgraduate student in Otago University’s Department of English. I want to read more of her poetry! Her poem, ‘Home’, captivates with its quirky tropes and agile pivots upon ‘swan’:
A swan like a carved radish kickstarts its way across the water.
It should be easier
to temper my words and make iron gates of them,
to remember the names picked out in gold
that echo a memorial garden.
Tim Vosper offers my favourite ending in ‘The False Way to the Real’
When it comes time to kill the lamp
the leaf will turn into a shade.
from ‘The False Way to the Real’
I am fan of Sugar Magnolia Wilson’s poetry and have fingers crossed she gets a book out soon. ‘Betty as a Boy’ is lush with detail and movement:
And you, outside the upmarket grocer’s, camouflaged top, khaki pants
slashed with a silk of red, a backpack strung with things that clink,
disappearing into your androgyny— the inverse of a newly minted drag queen,
appearing like a flaming comet, burning to be noticed.
from ‘Betty as a Boy’
Here is another unfamiliar poet I want to see a collection from. Susan Wardell’s poem pulsates with glorious surprising life. I will quote a piece but I urge you to read the whole thing: place rich, lithely troped, visually sparking, enigmatic, humane. I am drawn to the voice, to the word hunger, to the portrait built.
when meaning is gone, all that is left
is the grain
of the voice.
Well, hers sweeps the room like salt-flecked taffeta.
from ‘Grain of her Voice’
Writing journals, literary journals open up new avenues of reading and engagement. Landfall 235 is no exception. I have not finished, I have not yet read the reviews and all the fiction, but congratulations Emma Neale, you have taken the literary torch from David Eggleton, and the boost he gave, and turned your astute editorial eye to our advantage. I have new poets I am keen to track down. I have seen familiar poets with fresh eyes. Kind of like a poetry house party in my head.
You can also go to the Landfall Exhibition if you live in Dunedin. Opening is Thursday May 25 at 5.30 pm.
Min-a-rets issue 8 autumn 2018
edited by Erena Shingade
published by Compound Press
drawings by Harry Moritz
Freya Daly Sadgrove
Courtney Sina Meredith
This is multi-note poetry – each poem a sharp turn to different effect but the poetry co-exists so sweetly. There is not a dud note.
Today I am in the mood for surprise.
Zack Anderson’s ‘Vapor Wake’ is a lush string of words, a momentum of startling image and sound. A taste:
shadow the streaming track
the wormy spoor
the hex print
the luminous index
data streaming from me
like a wedding dress
a mantle, a mantis
Murray Edmond goes ‘Camping in the existential forest’ with tercets that wryly build a miniature narrative, strange, theatrical and evocative:
Someone coming in
gumboots. Tramp tramp tramp. Beat
of own tell-tale heart.
Courtney Sina Meredith hooks me with an off-kilter memoir-like cluster of little pieces, definitely luminous. From ‘Pony’:
Unless my memory is playing tricks on me. The rats
were white with blazing red eyes.
I’m translating myself from a time when I was sure.
I recently did an email conversation with Manon Revuelta where I enthused about her debut collection, Girl Teeth. This new poem, ‘Prayer’, shows the subtle along with the degrees of surprise and lyricism Manon is capable of. A taste:
Look at this busy dance I do with my hand
When I’m talking to people
Shredding paper in the darkness of my pocket
It is the quiet work of saying things
Min-a-ret 8 is a treat to be read on multiple occasions like a good album that needs multiple listenings.
Erena Shingade is a poet and arts writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Her work has been published by platforms such as The Spinoff, Landfall, Mimicry, Blackmail Press, Atlanta Review, Ka Mate Ka Ora, & the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre. After completing an MA thesis on the Zen Buddhist poetry of Richard von Sturmer in 2017, she continues to research the intersection of the poetic and the religious. During the day she works as a publicist for Allen & Unwin.
Haven’t read this as only back in power but Sweet Mammalian live here
Compound Press presents Minarets Issue 8 Autumn 2018
Edited by Erena Shingade
Illustrations by Harry Moritz
Launch at 7pm, Saturday 28 April at the Compound Press headquarters, 5c 55-57 High Street.
Minarets Issue 8 presents the freshest new writing from a mix of emerging and established New Zealand poets, alongside contributions from two international poets. Humorous, adventurous, and though-provoking, the journal brings a slice of the most intriguing new writing from here and overseas to the table.
Featuring the following New Zealand and international authors: Victor Billot, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Lee Thomson, Zack Anderson (USA), Murray Edmond, Courtney Sina Meredith, Manon Revuelta, Naomi Scully (USA).