Tag Archives: Landfall

In the hammock: Reading Landfall 235

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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 antidepressants

Because déjà vu

Because the trees

Because the population

Because plastic

 

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.

 

from ‘Home’

 

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.

 

They say

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.

 

Landfall page

You can also go to the Landfall Exhibition if you live in Dunedin. Opening is Thursday May 25 at 5.30 pm.

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Some highlights in the 70th anniversary edition of Landfall

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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

 

Congratulations: Airini Beautrais wins Landfall Essay Competition 2016

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Airini Beautrais has been named the winner of the 2016 Landfall Essay Competition for her essay ‘Umlaut’.

Competition judge David Eggleton said that her essay stood out as ‘written by someone unwilling to be boring, willing to take risks, and enough of a seasoned practitioner to carry it off with sustained verve’:

‘Umlaut’ is dextrous, exuberant and comical, if sardonic. It’s an account of the vexing business of unusual names and the thorny encounters they can provoke in this country with bureaucracy, with the insular-minded, with the proudly ignorant. It’s about the absurdities of modern life: how we negotiate otherness, how we negotiate our constantly revised colonial heritage on a daily basis. Sometimes verging on slapstick, nevertheless it’s a tour de force of a kind.

 

Airini Beautrais says she had thought that the umlaut in her children’s surname would make a good subject for a poem: ‘But the notes I put together seemed to lend themselves to an essay. As I wrote it and considered the issues around names, language and culture I found a lot of anger surfaced, but also a lot of humour. I was surprised how emotional this piece of writing became for me.’

Airini has published three books of poetry: Secret Heart (2006, winner of the NZSA Jessie Mackay award for best first book of poetry at the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards), Western Line (2011) and Dear Neil Roberts (2014, longlisted for the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards). She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters and her poetry and short fiction has appeared in a range of print and online journals. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Sarah Broom poetry prize. Airini lives in Whanganui with her partner and two children.

 

The Landfall Essay Competition is judged ‘blind’ by Landfall editor David Eggleton. The winner receives $3000 and a year’s subscription to Landfall. There were 51 essays submitted for the 2016 competition.

Michalia Arathimos came second, and third place went to Carolyn Cossey. The three essays will be published in Landfall 232 in November.

 

Poetry Shelf Postcard: Landfall 231

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We are well served by literary journals at the moment. Each delivers slightly different treats, biases, focuses but all offer high quality writing that resist any singular NZ model.

The latest Landfall (as you can see) has a stunning cover with its Peter Peryer photograph.

Inside: poetry (37 poets!), fiction, non-fiction, art and book reviews (including an excellent review of Anna Smaill’s The Chimes, one of my top fiction reads of the past year).

The poets range from the very familiar, whether young or old, to those new to me. And that is as it should be. David Eggleton is keeping the magazine fresh whilst giving vital space to our literary elders and maintaining a strong and welcome Pacific flavour.

 

A tasting plate of lines that got me (I seem to have been struck by mothers, fathers, surprising images, little twists):

 

from Brian Turner’s ‘Weekends’:

think of what a place could be

when it’s not what we possess

that counts most

but what we are possessed by

 

from CK Stead’s ‘One: Like a bird’ (for Kay):

You were beautiful, and I

sang, as I could in those days

all the way home—like a bird.

 

from Leilani Tamu’s ‘Researching Ali’i’:

I searched for you in boxes

the archivist muttered poison

 

from Rata Gordon’s ‘A Baby’:

I want to make a baby out of one peach and one prickle.

I want to use the kitchen sponge, sticky rice and a rubber band.

I want to use the coffee grinder.

 

from Siobhan Harvey’s ‘Spaceboy and the White Hole’:

he pictures matter barely visible, the light

of white holes as they transmit their secret

messages, sharp elegies, about letting go.

 

from Ruth Arnison’s ‘The Visit’:

Even from the road her house gave us the creeps.

Pale, communion wafer thin, and disapproving,

its severe windows three-quarter blinded.

 

from Heather McQuillan’s ‘In which I defend my father’s right to solitude’:

our father has a fine tooth way

of finding vulnerabilities

on the outward flanks

the wolf is always at his door

 

from Doc Drumheller’s ‘My Father’s Fingers’:

Days after my father died I felt a sense

of urgency to take care of his hot-house.

 

from Koenraad Kuiper’s ‘from Benedictine Sonnets’:

Mother always knitted particularly socks.

Knitting socks is a fine skill under the lamplight.

 

from Elizabeth Smither’s ‘Three “Willow” Pattern Bowls’:

My father thought I meant the plate

and wrapped one from the china cabinet

I carried it close to my heart

all the way back for a second reprimand.

 

from Bob Orr’s ‘Seven Haiku’:

I don’t care about

frogs

basho’s dead

 

from Will Leadbetter’s ‘Three Variations on “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams’:

Nothing depends upon

the green wheelbarrow

 

Great winter reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf review: Six reasons to pick up Landfall 230

 

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The latest issue of Landfall is a vibrant read. Edited by David Eggleton, it includes the results of the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award with Emma Neale’s Judge’s report (Michael Harlow was the winner with Hannah Mettner, Elizabeth Morton, David Howard, Nick Ascroft, Alice Miller and Victoria Broome Highly Recommended).

The journal continues to showcase the strength of South Island writers, whilst casting a spotlight elsewhere. It is one of the few journals that include a healthy dose of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, along with book reviews, both in print and online. This eclectic reach is praiseworthy in view of our impoverished discussions of local books in print media.

 

Six high points in my reading so far:

One: This issue includes the results of The Landfall Essay Competition 2015, along with David Eggleton’s Judge’s comments. The top four are included in this issue.

 

The winner: Tracey Slaughter

Second: Phil Braithwaite

Third: Louise Wallace

Highly Commended: Therese Lloyd

Commended: Ludmila Sakowski and Bernie Coleman

The winning essay, ‘Ashdown Place,’ is astonishing. It utterly hits the mark for me. Memoir as essay, essay as memoir. It is a high-octane, detail compounding, breathtakingly rhythmed reading experience. It drenches you in time and place and then startles you in its revelations. This woman can write!

 

Two: Emily Karaka’s painting suite along with her eye-catching cover.

Three: Airini Beautrais’s longish poem, ‘Summer’ with its delicious lyrical narrative flow.

Four: Lynley Edmeades’s ‘Some Bodies Make Babies’ with its pitch perfect loop, simplicity and sharpness. A poet to watch.

Five: Hannah Mettner’s prose poem, ‘Reasons Ross Should Be Happy.’ Want to read more. Hits you on a number of writing levels. Do hope that shortlisted manuscript gets published!

Six: Jack Ross’s provocative nonfiction piece, ‘Is is Infrreal or is it Memorex?’ Jack juxtaposes quotes from Roberto Boleraño with a letter to Leicester outlining literary gossip (a scandalous poetry reading).

 

 

 

Just out: Landfall 230 is a strongly multicultural issue – includes Grattan Awards poems

Landfall 230

 

Press release:

 

Landfall 230 is a strongly multicultural issue, reflecting the diversity and energy of contemporary New Zealand writing, with contributions by, among others, writers of Mexican, Samoan, Rotuman, Chinese, Irish and Indian backgrounds.

A significant series of just-completed small oil paintings by Jeffrey Harris make up the first stunning art portfolio in this issue, followed by a series of 2015 paintings by Emily Karaka.

 

Featuring new poems by Riemke Ensing, Michael Harlow, Fiona Kidman, Cilla McQueen, Robert Sullivan, Peter Olds, Bernadette Hall, Airini Beautrais, Olivia Macassey, Kay McKenzie Cooke, Carolyn McCurdie, Hannah Mettner, Joanna Preston and Rogelio Guedea (translated by Roger Hickin) — Landfall 230 demonstrates the vitality and range of current poetic practice in New Zealand.

The Landfall Review includes, among other reviews, William Dart’s commentary on a recently published collection of writings by composer Douglas Lilburn; Peter Simpson’s review of Charles Brasch: Selected Poems; David Herkt writing about novelist James Courage; and Paul Moon’s review of Tony Ballantyne’s Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Māori and the question of the body.

Emma Neale, judge of the 2015 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award, takes us through the difficult process of choosing a winner; and there is a showcase selection of the four best essays from the 2015 Landfall Essay Competition – eloquent, passionate, exhilarating non-fiction delivered by Tracey Slaughter, Philip Braithwaite, Louise Wallace and Therese Lloyd.

Celebrating the power of the literary imagination with inside stories and true confessions, short fictions and thoughtful critiques, Landfall 230 is testament to the rich variety and dynamism of the current state of New Zealand culture.

 

 

Landfall 230

Edited by David Eggleton

Release Date: November 2015

ISBN 978-1-877578-91-5, $30

http://www.otago.ac.nz/press

Ten things to love about Landfall 229

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Shortly after Sport arrives in my box, I get a bright new issue of Landfall. My little list below maps my ‘loves’ so far — like little ‘like’ ‘share’ ‘favourite’ or ‘retweet’ buttons. Editors might compile a journal with an arc of contours (aural, thematic, emotional pitch, genre, experimentation, quietness and so on) as I have always done with an anthology so you move through shifting readerly experiences from start to finish. However, I never read a journal like this.  It’s dip and delve.

1. Straight to the review section to books I have missed, and books I have reviewed. Ha! I Have missed (all meanings intended) reading Ian Wedde’s The Grass Catcher: A digression about home (Victoria University Press). Martin Edmond’s scintillating review meditates on the implications of writing the past alongside his critique of Ian’s illuminations of his own. ‘Home’ was a key notion that came under scrutiny within my doctoral thesis and within the context of Italian women writing novels in the twentieth century. It still fascinates me. This review has sent me scuttling to buy the book. In particular: ‘This is not one of those writer’s memoirs that says: here is how I became the resplendent creature I am today. It is too multi-faceted, too in love with the world, you might say, to serve such a purpose.’

2. Rata Gordon’s poem  ‘Tinkering’ is like an electric train on electric tracks. You get to the end and you want to travel that route again. Wow!

3. Discovering Michael Harlow picked  Sue Wootton’s poem, ‘Luthier,’ as the winning entry in The Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize (2015). This poem is sumptuous in detail and that detail evokes mood, music, character, place in a transcendental kind of way. I would love to hear this poem read aloud to hear the poet lift and connect and pause, the hit of certain words on the line (flitch, slink, Sitka, bedrock). Sue demonstrates the way a poem can take a small moment/thought/action/thing and then open out intimately for the reader. A word that comes to mind and that is so overused when speaking poetry is luminous. But this poem is utterly and breathtakingly luminous.

4. Discovering Christina Conrad still writes poems.

5. Short poems can be very very good. So much happens in the white space that holds them This is the case with Louise Wallace’s ‘Mirage/Arizona.’

6. Tina Makeriti’s essay, ‘This Compulsion in Us.’ Strikes a chord because I am fascinated by museums too; enthralled by the things that stick to the objects that only you can see or hear or feel. Loved Tina’s exploration of a museum’s paradox, in that it preserves treasures yet ‘also captures and immobilises things that make sense only in motion, that should breathe and transform.’

7. Runner-up in The Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize (2015), the opening lines in Jessica le Bas’s ‘Four Photographs from a Window’ : ‘The first is a shot in the dark/ buttoned up and black suited’

8. An Elizabeth Smither short story that underlines what an exquisite hand she has when it comes to fiction (‘The Trees’).

9. The way Sue Reidy’s poem, ‘The primitive,’ became etched on my skin.

10. Lots more delights but I have to mention the Unity-Books, standout ad. A child reading a book, thank you!

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