With the latest issue, Ika is planting its feet firmly on the NZ writing landscape, as a journal to take notice of. Each issue tweaks the design a little. This one looks good. Poems luxuriate on the page. The art is honoured. The internal design is appealing to the eye.
Anne Kennedy, with her astute eye and ear, has assembled writing that matches the fresh appeal of the design. Like Sport, the journal acknowledges its links to its Creative Writing programme and allows established writers to rub shoulders with students. I applaud the celebration of Pacific writing. You will find art, poetry, fiction, an interview and nonfiction. A feast indeed.
Lovely launch at Auckland Central Library on Saturday with a fitting speech by Sue Orr, a handful of readings and wow-factor song.
A taste of poetry:
Annaleese Jochems: She is a graduate of MIT and is now doing a Masters in writing at Victoria. Her poem is your entry into the book and it leaves you wanting more. Just what a new voice offers: surprising lines, audacity, elasticity.
I must go home for dinner,/ but I don’t want to go home/ where I play my unrequited/ love like a banjo
Poet and publisher Kiri Piahana-Wong has a suite of poems that I think are her best yet. How do you reproduce feeling in a poem in 2016? Kiri shows how: ‘A month later my chest/ still felt like a stone/ was inside it so I stayed/ there and I kept waiting’
Bill Manhire also has a suite of poems. The first poem, ‘We Work to be Winners’ got under my skin because I loved the surprising juxtapositions of one line alongside the next. It got me thinking about the origins of the poem. Sometimes if you know that, it changes the way you read the lines. In this case I began inventing origins as I waited in a festival queue. It felt like the poem had a fascinating backstory which could become a poem in its own right. It might be a found poem (but from where? that is what intrigues). It could be written from the point of view of someone who writes a sentence in a diary each Thursday. Or the offbeat biography of a hippy from the 1970s. Get the journal and decide for yourself. First line: ‘I left the ashram running for my life.’
Craig Santos Perez: ‘Micronesians in Denial’ brings mouth-watering detail alongside history alongside political spikes. I also loved ‘Aunty of rainwater and Smoke’ – the title says it all. This is poetry song and poetry joy.
David Eggleton (winner of Poetry Category at NZ Book Awards last week) is hitting his poetry straps so to speak. You get two poems that are a linguistic explosion in the ear with musical chords sneaking in and rhythms pulling you along at breakneck speed. It is not just aural gold though because there is the visual weave that ignites all senses.
Awks: you winged Auk-thing, awkward, huddling;
you wraparound, myriad, amphibious,
stretchy try-hard, Polywoodish
juggernaut’ (from ‘Edgeland’)
I am flicking in and out of the journal waiting for a session at the festival and stumble upon these lines by Hera Lindsay Bird (she has a book out with VUP later this year!): ‘O Anna/ let us jettison the manky quilts/ of our foremothers’ Yep – it is a terrific poem.
Courtney Sina Meredith’s ‘of all the bricks we laid in our sleep’ stuck with me, haunted me as I drove home on Sunday with festival fatigue. this poem was like a haunting refrain. ‘and hear your soft waiata/ through the floorboards’
This stanza from Doug Poole‘s ‘The light I had hoped’ also got to me:
As a child I would lie awake listening to my grandmother slapping
clothes on her bedside chair, speaking aloud her thoughts of the day,
clicking rosary beads and whispering her prayers
This afternoon I fell upon ‘Chasing Spirits’ by Kim M. Melhuish. A voice keeps asking ‘how’s this’ and the answers tumble like little poetry postcards perfectly formed:
fishing for love
the night ahead.
And then it was this delicious morsel from Vivienne Plumb from ‘Peach Tree’:
The cactus unfurls its one brilliant
blinding flower. Excuse me,
there is no poetic peach tree here.
AND I still have to read poems by these poets: Airini Beautrias, Bryan Walpert, Charlotte Steel, Elizabeth Morton, Gregory O’Brien, Makyla Curtis, Manisha Anjali, Ria Masae, Richard Von Sturmer, Sophie van Waardenberg.
I applaud everyone involved. This is a journal worth subscribing to.