Tag Archives: Frankie McMillan

Still time to submit prose poems/small fiction/flash fiction to Bonsai

 

IMMEDIATE CALL — ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS THROUGH NOVEMBER 30!

Editors Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe are seeking submissions for a comprehensive book of compressed fiction to be published in 2017. This is an ambitious project, the first of its kind in New Zealand, and we aim to include the very best small fictions from around Aotearoa.

The book will be a wide-ranging collection in three parts: one section will feature the best of previously published work; one section will feature considerations and essays by noted practitioners on the short narrative form and its development/ growth in New Zealand; one section will feature entirely new work, to showcase the fast-changing landscape of New Zealand small fictions.

 

Contribute to this uniquely New Zealand collection by sending your best work, up to 300 words not including title, with ‘BONSAI’ in the subject line.

 

  • Send new work as well as previously published pieces to: bonsaifiction@gmail.com
  • Up to three new pieces; up to three previously published pieces.
  • Please include your name and contact details.
  • Please send a .doc or .docx file with all submissions in the same document; no pdfs, unless absolutely necessary to demonstrate the layout of specific formatting.
  • Deadline for story submissions: November 30, 2016.

 

There is no theme for this anthology. We will include a variety of stories exploring a range of topics and themes – from humorous to wicked to sublime. We encourage experimental writing, as well as haibun, prose poetry and stories in te reo (accompanied by an English translation). We encourage new and experienced writers. We encourage very short flashes of inspiration or stories that take up the full 300 words. We want to see stories that light up the page and take readers to unexpected endings. We are looking for stories that leave us breathless, wanting more. We aim to put New Zealand flash fiction on the map even further, so give us your shiniest stuff!

 

Whatever approach you take, make every word count.

The editors’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. Payment will be in copies of the anthology.

Deadline for story submissions: November 30, 2016.

 

#nzbookshopday I recommend buying Frankie McMillan’s breathtaking small fictions: My Mother and the Hungarians

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My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions Frankie McMillan, Canterbury University Press, 2016

Frankie McMillan has published several collections of poetry along with a volume of short stories. Owen Marshall claims her as ‘our maestro of flash fiction.’ She won the New Zealand Flash Fiction Award in both 2013 and 2015. Much of her new book, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions, was written when she held the Ursula Bethell Residency in 2014 at the University of Canterbury. She teaches at the Hagley Writers’ Institute.

Frankie is currently in Hungary as the guest of the Hungarian Embassy in Wellington. She was invited to attend a commemorative event of the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Representatives of the Embassy attended the launch of the book at the 2016 WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival in August.

It was expected that Frankie would be the only guest from New Zealand at a gathering of potentially 100,000 people on the Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian Parliament building on 23 October.

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The new book is a gem. Beautifully produced by Canterbury University Press, the internal design, the cover, the shape and the feel of the paper are spot on. Most of the writing occupies the right-hand page which leaves a left-hand stream of blank space. I liked that – the empty space stands in for the unsaid, for sidetracks or pauses on the part of the reader. The writing is elegant, spare, captivating. At times there are jolts of the unexpected.

Much of the collection pivots upon location and dislocation. At the heart, are the stories of family and the Hungarian refugees that come to stay. There is an undercurrent of getting lost and finding one’s way. The parents of an old school friend of mine were Hungarian refugees and I was fascinated by their stories, mostly imagined on my part, in terms of their flight to New Zealand, and their life in a strange country. They tried to plant Hungarian roots in the soil, in the moonshine in the basement, in the language spoken, in the preserves and the cooking. So reading Frankie’s small fictions really affected me. There is a clarity in her writing, a mustering of strange and delightful detail. It feels unbearably apt to be reading behind the lines of the refugees. Disconcerting. Moving.

‘We did not have much; most of what we carried was in our heads, a smell, a snatch of song, our mother’s face, but we had our suitcases and Imre had letters and we had each other of course, though some would say let’s not gnaw that bone again. And though some of us shared a room or a bed it was our little space in the world and a place where Stefan hid when the Hungarian Welfare Officer came with his briefcase, his smell of government and questions.’

from  ‘… and in a flash it seemed all the unliving we had loved were flying overhead …’

 

The book raises the prickly question of genre. Is it small fiction, flash fiction, short short stories or prose poetry? I don’t think it matters an iota. Call it what you will. This writing should hook anyone who sniffs at flash fiction because Frankie shows how good it can be.

I have much admired Frankie’s poetry but it seems to me with this book she is on the bicycle and hitting the right gear; the writing wheels are humming so sweetly. Brava maestra!

Canterbury University Press page

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS – BONSAI: The Big Book of Small Stories

Editors Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe are seeking submissions for a comprehensive book of compressed fiction to be published in 2017. This is an ambitious project, the first of its kind in New Zealand, and we aim to include the very best small fictions from around Aotearoa.

The book will be a wide-ranging collection in three parts: one section will feature the best of previously published work; one section will feature considerations and essays by noted practitioners on the short narrative form and its development/ growth in New Zealand; one section will feature entirely new work, to showcase the fast-changing landscape of New Zealand small fictions.

Contribute to this uniquely New Zealand collection by sending via email:

  •   your best work, up to 300 words not including title, with ‘BONSAI’ in the subject line. Deadline for story submissions: November 30, 2016.
  •   a proposal for an essay or reflection concerning the compressed form – we are open to ideas and are presently considering essays on composition and technique, history of the form, prose poetry and story-telling, teaching flash in the classroom, representation of Pasifika writing in the short form, music and the rhythm of flash, compressed story-writing as a tool for all writing, experimentation and play in very short stories, literary criticism of the compressed form. Note: there are many themes to explore! Please send an email about your essay proposal by October 28 to discuss with the editors.

    Send new work and essay proposals to: bonsaifiction@gmail.com

  • Please include your name and contact details.

    There is no theme for this anthology. We will include a variety of stories exploring a range of topics and themes – from humorous to wicked to sublime. We encourage experimental writing, as well as haibun, prose poetry and stories in te reo (accompanied by an English translation). We encourage new and experienced writers. We encourage very short flashes of inspiration or stories that take up the full 300 words. We want to see stories that light up the page and take readers to unexpected endings. We are looking for stories that leave us breathless, wanting more. We aim to put New Zealand flash fiction on the map even further, so give us your shiniest stuff!

    Whatever approach you take, make every word count.

    Writers may submit up to three unpublished works for consideration. Please send a .doc or .docx file with all submissions in the same document; no pdfs, unless absolutely necessary to demonstrate the layout of specific formatting.

    The editors’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into. Payment will be in copies of the anthology.

    Deadline for story submissions: November 30, 2016. Deadline for essay proposals: October 28, 2016.

Poetry Shelf, Poet’s Choice: David Eggleton makes some picks

 

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Some of my most intense local poetry reading experiences this year have been as a literary editor, working my way through hundreds of poems and finding something wonderful in many of them, and then cherry-picking from these for Landfall 229 and Landfall 230; but beyond that the stack of new slim volumes looms, and I’ve elected to mention four poetry collections I enjoyed musing over.

‘No, not Bali or Samarkand. Take/ me down to the Dominion Road . . .’ Peter Bland commands in his collection Expecting Miracles (Steele Roberts), drawing you in immediately with his canon-echoing rhythms and decluttered simplicity. His poems have a casual, conversational tone that belies their craft, bolstered by an oldster’s genial humour and air of wry bemusement at the oddity of the quotidian: he’s a metropolitan in a provincial culture.

  Gregory O’Brien‘s Whale Years (Auckland University Press) navigates its way around the South Pacific as if following the drift of ocean currents. In this collection, he’s a beachcomber pointing to curious flotsam and jetsam. His poems are mantras, notations, journal jottings, gatherings-together of cadenced imagery, and compelling in the way they combine astrological zodiacs, weather balloons, shipwrecks, islands. Collectively, the sense is of a star-trek odyssey, recapitulating ecological markers of the anthropocene era, Notably, too, the exoticism of travel helps generate a semi-arcane vocabulary, serving to align his verses with the baroque wing of New Zealand poetry: there where Kendrick Smithyman sculls in the sunset.

I was also very taken by the skewed reminiscences in Morgan Bach‘s first collection Some of us eat the seeds (Victoria University Press). Spiky, terse, yet also lyrical and tonally subtle, they recount a sense of adolescent awkwardness and estrangement, almost as if at times she’s ogling the outside world and its emotional coldness from her own private igloo, growing up in small town provincial New Zealand and longing to be elsewhere. But if she offers a return to childhood as a rejection of the sugar puff Disneyland of a commodified Nineties environment, she does this by crafting a version of Banksy’s subversive Dismaland: ironic, comic, sharply observant about the advertised ‘great expectations’ we have been led to expect from the product called ‘Life’.

Her poetic intuitions result in a cleverly-written-up sequence of what might be termed out-of-body experiences: the feeling of towering over shuffling Japanese passers-by in Tokyo; watching her screen-actor father die successively in movie after movie; and then ultimately a kind of ecstatic insight that turns her collection full circle: ‘the way you felt swimming/ in the rain that hammered/ when you put your head above water to see/ lightning flash in the pitch of the sky’ (‘The swimming pool’).

Frankie McMillan‘s There are no horses in heaven (Canterbury University Press) contains a multitude of poems rife with the storyteller’s art, proving her a kind of fabulist, distilling states of enchantment and sometimes states of disenchantment into a few lines ever so lightly and delicately, so that her shortish poems seem to musically chime with one another. And it’s as if you can carry them with you wherever you go. As she puts it: ‘What I want to say is something small/ enough to hold within the crook of my arm/ and that is not the half of it’.

And then there’s her poem ‘Observing the ankles of a stranger’, about a tourist being startled out of her wits when Ruaumoko’s seismic fists of fury pummeled central Christchurch almost into the ground on February 22nd, 2011. Here enchantment— or metamorphosis — takes the form of feeling lost in a familiar habitat as the dust settles. We need more such terrific poems.

David Eggleton

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