Tag Archives: Emma Neale

New editor appointed for Landfall journal

 

Emma Neale.credit Abe Baillie.jpeg

Emma Neale has been appointed as the new editor of Landfall, published by Otago University Press.

Neale, who lives in Dunedin, has published six novels and five poetry collections, and edited several anthologies.

 

She is a former Robert Burns fellow (2012) and has received numerous awards and grants for her writing including the Janet Frame/NZSA Memorial Prize for Literature (2008), the University of Otago/Sir James Wallace Pah Residency (2014), and she was Philip and Diane Beatson/NZSA Writing Fellow in 2015.

Neale was awarded the Kathleen Grattan Award for 2011 for her poetry collection The Truth Garden, and was a finalist for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017 for her novel Billy Bird.

She has extensive experience as a literary editor and reviewer, and holds a PhD in New Zealand Literature from University College London (UK).

In making the announcement, Otago University Press publisher Rachel Scott says the role of Landfall editor is one that is at the heart of New Zealand arts and literature.

“Otago University Press is pleased to entrust this position to a writer and editor of such distinction and talent.”

Landfall is New Zealand’s foremost and longest-running arts and literary journal. Published biannually, it showcases new fiction and poetry, as well as biographical and critical essays, cultural commentary and visual arts.

 

Landfall was founded in 1947 by the Dunedin writer, critic and arts patron Charles Brasch.

Retiring editor David Eggleton was editor between 2009 and 2017 (from issues 218 to 234), one of the longest tenures of any Landfall editor. An award-winning poet and critic, Eggleton was recently awarded a Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency.

Poetry Shelf Winter Season: Emma Neale off-piste

 

 

Fourteen Daydreams through Spanish Translation

 

The wind rotates in the sky’s blue socket.

I wish Ryan would love me.

Okay, notice me. Look at me, even.

But not when I’m smiling with my braces showing.

 

‘Turn over your tests. You may start.’

 

Ode to Sunday.

 

Oh yellow sun, lonely armadillo,

cancel your gut’s groans

with a spade

under the sober trucks

a zap of cheese.

 

What? Starving. Skipped breakfast. Want cheekbones though.

My sandwiches cat-nap in my lunch box

all fat white stomachy with family love

big and bricky as awful school shoes.

 

In the cities

the dearness, the world,

agonise us, peg us

in the egg yolks

of the pulverised chicken.

 

That can’t be right

but the clock’s got hysterics, the minutes

are spilling down its face, gotta crack on with it …

 

We are suddenly gulping gold

accusing ourselves

with piety pie

and cactus spines

with hot stones

and the mouth

sulphurates

 

Rotorua. Smelly eggy air. We went there.

Dad was relaxed for once. Funny that it stunk.

 

More than all the gifts:

it has salt, the throat, the teeth,

the lips and the language

 

Ryan hardly speaks, but I’ve seen the soft hairs

on his upper lip and I haven’t minded them at all,

so do I smile too wide? Feelings coated all over me

in oily sheen? Do I clip my hair too tight?

Is it my ugly yellow school bag that cries out, gormless?

I know it is. I’m so ashamed. And of how near my breasts

the gap between my shirt-buttons pouches

on plump skin white as baby scorpions.

But Ryan, he’s café au lait calm,

he’s a cool bronze casting

of himself.

 

We want to drink cataracts

the blue night, the poles

and then, crucifying the sky,

the coldest of all the planets,

the round, the supreme,

the heavenly sanity.

 

Oh what? Change the title, quick! ‘Ode to Sanity’?

 

It is the fruit of the tree of salt.

It is the ballerina of green truth.

 

The ballerina of green truth!

Ryan — sanity is the ballerina of green truth.

Do you like that, would you agree?

I’ve heard your mother is very strict

she hasn’t been well, people say she isn’t coping

and I don’t really know what that means.

Could I help, like, somehow? With the dishes?

Is it hard to be so much older than your brother?

You shouldn’t be embarrassed; it makes you seem wiser,

the way you walk him in his carriage, your face so I don’t know,

iron of jawbone, so soccer-practice-serious,

looking like science somehow,

upright, serious science. But your baby brother:

that you have to be another father to him,

and your mother doesn’t like you to be with girls…

 

If I were thinner, if I were a dancer,

would you fall at my feet so I could laugh,

flick back my hair like some Follyfoot filly,

(‘Grow, grow the Lightening tree …’)

then say, Ryan, no! Stand up! Please don’t!

So you could say, ‘You are even worth asphalt scrape-holes

on my school uniform knees…’

 

It is the dry universe

all of a sudden stained

by this fresh heaven

 

Yes, yes, yes, Ryan when I see you,

it is the dry universe

all of a sudden stained

by this fresh heaven

 

Quiet water coffin

queen

of the fruit stall

 

(What? That’s a compliment?

I thought they said this poet was romantic.

If only Ryan would say,

my golden colt, my blazing girl,

my ballerina of the heart, my zap of cheese

it doesn’t matter that you are fat,

you are not fat to me ….)

 

earthly bistro of depth, moon.

Oh pure one

in your abundance

of undressed rubies.

 

Well that’s just rude.

blah, skip, skip, skip.

 

If I could see his soul … pink, glowy,

like when the sun shone through his ears

yesterday at the bus stop

and it wasn’t even geeky somehow, it was ….

 

We divide you in the soft salt

like a mini mountain

of splendid food

 

Oh crap, is this about FOOD?

 

Skip skip skip

blah blah blah

we haven’t even been given half this vocabulary

this test SUCKS.

 

Oh hell, the bell! I can’t revise, that was way too fast.

 

‘Papers to the front. Pack your bags.’

 

Oh my GOD my skirt’s side zip’s undone. Please don’t tell me Ryan saw that today. Shit-shit. He would have. It’s been undone all day. You can see the gap between where my shirt tucks in and — God my school regulation underwear. I hate my parents for buying them. I am going to pass out from shame. That’s why he looked away and hardly spoke. Thinks he’s so superior. I’m giving up boys forever. My big fat watermelon hips. My big fat watermelon belly. I’m skipping lunch. I’m throwing myself into my schoolwork from now on. Oh yellow sun. Oh lonely armadillo.ª

 

ª Fourteen is struggling with ‘Oda a la Sandía’ (‘Ode to the Watermelon’) by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The version set for the test (‘No dictionaries allowed. You have forty-five minutes, starting from now’) is reprinted in The FSG Book of Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, edited by Ilan Stavans. The translation here is entirely her own.

 

© Emma Neale

 

Author note: I’ve been working and reworking this adolesecent girl’s monologue for a couple of years. I’ve submitted it elsewhere once or twice, immediately sticking my fingers in my ears as if waiting for an explosion (of distaste or mockery, etc.). As the two modes it uses are quite far apart – the teenager speaker’s bad translation, and her internal thoughts – it stretches the container of the poem so far it might split. Perhaps that feeling of excess is okay, though, for an adolescent voice. Young people can be so receptive, sensitive, energetic, inventive, critical, vulnerable, wise and yet also wildly unknowing, there’s a symphonic orchestra of emotions competing on any ordinary day during these years, it seems to me. And each emotion is such an intensely coloured version of itself, what single poem could contain them all, even if it limited itself to one class test, on one day?

 

Emma Neale‘s most recent poetry collection, Tender Machines, was long-listed in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2016 and her latest novel, Billy Bird, was short-listed for the Acorn Prize at the same awards in 2017. She works as a freelance editor.

 

From Paula: For Poetry Shelf’s Winter Season, I invited 12 poets to pick one of their own poems that marks a shift in direction, that is outside the usual tracks of their poetry, that moves out of character, that nudges comfort zones of writing. It might be subject matter, style, form, approach, tone, effect, motivation, borrowings, revelation, invention, experimentation, exclusions, inclusions, melody …. anything!

Tim Upperton critiques Manifesto Aotearoa at Pantograph Punch

Manifesto_feature.jpg

 

Full review here. This is terrific writing that raises issues on poetry and the whole business of political poetry.  I realise that statement is ambiguous – so take it to mean both the review and the anthology!

 

Two cheers for democracy: A review of Manifesto Aotearoa

 

‘One hundred and one political poems, by nearly one hundred and one poets – who knew we had so many? Yet it’s odd, in an anthology as generous and inclusive as this, how you notice who’s missing. It’s a shame that outstanding political poetry from the past is outside the ambit of this book – the broadsides of Whim-Wham, Glover, Baxter, Fairburn and Frame would have provided a rich historical context for this contemporary offering.

Co-editor Philip Temple rightly points out that there’s another anthology-in-waiting here. I particularly missed Bill Manhire’s ‘Hotel Emergencies,’ and among other practising poets, I also missed Helen Lehndorf, Jenny Bornholdt, Ashleigh Young, Hinemoana Baker, Stefanie Lash, Bob Orr, Tim Jones, Sarah Jane Barnett, Sam Hunt, Helen Heath, and Apirana Taylor (there’s an excerpt from Taylor’s ‘Sad joke on a marae’ in Temple’s introduction). But this is an invitation-to-submit volume rather than a survey of what’s already out there in books, magazines and online, so maybe some poets simply missed the memo. (I missed the memo.) And maybe some poets just don’t have a political poem in them. But maybe every poem is political. And if that’s too woolly and undefined, then what is a political poem, exactly?

 


 

‘Poetry on the page, in New Zealand at least, seldom raises its voice, so when it does, you prick up your ears and listen.

But the strident, raised voice of many of the poems here also bothered me.’

Some highlights in the 70th anniversary edition of Landfall

otago638671.jpg  otago638671.jpg  otago638671.jpg

Landfall 233 edited by David Eggleton

 

Last Sunday I was feeling travel worn, flat, depleted, sick and I could not settle on anything. The kind of day where you pick this up and put it down. You pick that and then this and then that and then this. And then find yourself back at the start again. It was only when I opened the new Landfall I found my self settling back and reading.

The 70th Birthday issue is terrific. It includes testimonies from Chris Price and Iain Sharp (both candid on the difficulties of editing a key literary journal), Philip Temple (on the controversial dismissal of Robin Dudding and efforts to revive the flagging enterprise) and Peter Simpson on Charles Brasch and Landfall. Simpson quotes Brasch musing on when to quit editing. He decided he must stop at 15 years – although it stretched to 20. He concluded:

‘I shall have nothing to live for, nothing I badly want to do, nothing I am forced to do in order to live …’

 

Sometimes I like to read a journal from first page to last page in order to follow the contours and harmonies of editing. This time it was pick n’ mix poetry. As I read I jotted down:

vibrant fresh vital diverse essential reading unfamiliar voices much-loved voices direct indirect

 

Adore the Art Portfolios by Chris Corson-Scott and Heather Straka.

 

Two prose pieces caught me eye first. Both surprising and stick like biddibids.

‘Last-ditch Daisies’ Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

‘It’s All I Had’ Joanna Cho

 

Then the poetry:

 

‘Four Transformations on a theme of Philip’ by Anne Kennedy is like a return to her brother (1951 – 1973). Every time I pick the book up it falls open here and I read it again. The short lines shift patterns on the pages like little twitches of contemplation, memory, bright retrieved detail with indents, parentheses, fluency.

 

Catch me in the garden

and put me in a jar

 

the air where I was

in the palm of your hand

 

 

‘Morning Song’ by Emma Neale builds a loving grandfather portrait that weds sharp detail with war undertones spiky within a family’s daily life. It is sumptuous writing with things hiding off the edges.

 

Gramps stole eggs, green seeds of song, from their nests

to show us wonder; hairline cracks ran

our sooks’ hearts as we watched the robbed mothers fly home.

 

 

‘Mr Anderson, You Heartbreaker’ by Helen Rickerby teases and bites into Hans Christian Anderson and his depiction or wooing of women and harnesses Helen’s adult eyes on the Little Mermaid.

 

And really, if she’d just held onto her tongue

she could have sung him to her

reeled him in, drunk him down

one prince, on the rocks, coming up

 

 

‘Storm’ by Amanda Hunt is a glorious lyrical snapshot that slows down the pace of contemplation to the point each detail is under an enviable spotlight. ( I am reminded of how Janet Frame wanted to slow down the pace of her poems)

 

a butterfly flutter

of moth-soft feathers

glancing across my shoulder

 

‘Fear of Feathers’ by Michael Gould delivers a surprising passage through the lines to the final enticement ‘life is good.’

 

Some sounds of birds (unseen but heard)

may confound those with no sense of the absurd

 

‘Personal Space’ by Johanna Emeney refreshes the domestic poem beautifully and needs to be read in its completeness to catch the humour, the pathos, the politics, the poetry, the feeling. I am including the last stanza.

 

She should clear a space

beneath the sudden worry of crowded floors,

the scatter of feet; the shock of doors,

run downstairs and shut herself in

the last room at the bottom,

then spin, arms open,

to see just how wide

she has forgotten.

 

 

‘Inflammable’ by Anna Jackson is a poem that catches the dark and light of life and living beneath the flicker of candle light. It reminds me of the way a particular moment, against all the millions lost and faded, that is luminous on return.

 

The world was flammable we knew it was.

 

‘Art Is Weak’ by Nick Ascroft is smart and sharp and hooks you from the first line.

 

Conceptual art is not so empty sleeved

and brained.

 

‘The Bee Elle’ by Lynley Edmeades curls and coils deliciously around a physical view and subterranean ideas.

 

Everyone is hooked up

to various elsewheres

as if our bodies don’t matter.

 

‘How a New Zealand Sunrise is Different from Other Sunrises’ by Erik Kennedy is like a landscape poem standing on its head and is thus invigorating to read (I am a landscape poem fan for all kinds of reasons).

 

Pinks and yellows collude to orange the hillside,

but they trick you into thinking the hills are proper orange

on their own, like an oyster catcher’s lurid bill