Tag Archives: Sophie Van Waarden

In the hammock: reading Mimicry IV

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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.


from ‘Terrific’


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

on repeat


(and The Fish goes


1 3 8 1 6 8)


from ‘strays’


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


from ‘her*’


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


from ‘Crush’


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


from ‘schön’


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

Enquiries: mimicryjournal@gmail.com

My two poetry readings to launch my new book feature some of my favourite poets

Like so many poets, I loathe people making speeches about me or my work. Much better to stage a poetry reading and celebrate the pull of cities.

My new poetry collection comes out of ten exceptional days I spent in New York with my family awhile ago. So I have invited a bunch of poets I love to read city poems by themselves and others. Big line-ups but it will free flow and leave time for wine and nibbles.

Once I got to fifteen I realised what poetry wealth we have in these places. I could have hosted another 15  in each place easily. That was so reassuring.

If I had time and money, I would have staged similar events in Christchurch and Dunedin where there bundles of poets I love too.

Please share if you have the inclination.

And you are ALL warmly invited!








Tastes of Ika 3 – Ika 4, a few days left for submissions



Ika 3 looks cool. It is the literature and arts journal from Manukau Institute of Technology and is edited by Anne Kennedy. Anne is a poet and novelist and she is about to head to Victoria University where she will be the 2016 Writer in Residence.

The internal design is fresh. The issue looks like it is wrapped in brown paper. It feels slightly rough to the hand. It features prose, poetry and art from students and staff, and stretches out to include work by well known writers from both here and overseas.

The mix is eclectic. There are appealing grades/gradients of lyricism and subject matter, but what makes this issue pop out from others is the political elbow that juts out, the raw angles, the Pacific Island presence. Compared with this journal, others seemed saturated in white. To have such diverse reading lines in to brown skinned voices makes this newish journal a vital presence within our writing/reading options.

A bundle of poets made me snap to attention. I love the playfulness of Tusiata Avia’s ‘We are the diaspora of us all’ where play becomes play with a potent bite. I love the way Chris Tse’s ‘This house’ is inventive, detail rich, personal, kinetic and catches both heart and mind. Faith Wilson’s ‘Echo (bootleg remix)’ is a poem bisected in two and the interplay of dual voices is sharp, hard, heart hitting. You need to read again to find different paths. Donovan Kūhiō Colleps wraps place and moment so acutely in ‘Muscular Dreams,’ and I love the way lines coil and repeat. J A Vili’s ‘Mother’s Rope’ is spare, just a handful of words on the page, but it is the white hot core of the issue. Sophie Van Waarden’s ‘Water Girl’ confirms that this young poet writes with linguistic grace, verve and surprise and is an emerging poet to watch.

There is much more. See some treats below in the photos, including Anna Jackson’s surprising ‘Leaving the hotel room.’ This journal is worth a subscription! The art is mind catching as well as eye-catching. Again I come back to the words fresh and vital.


Work is about to start on the next issue. Submissions for Ika 4 are due by February 1st.

Submit here.

Submission details:

We invite submissions across Moananui for Ika 4 from emerging to established practitioners in the fields of writing (poetry, prose fiction, non-fiction), performance, and visual art.

Ika 4 will be published in print and accompanied by a website for moving image and performance, to be launched as part of the Auckland Writers Festival in May 2016.

Electronic documents are preferred, but printouts together with a self-addressed envelope may be mailed to: Ika Journal, Faculty of Creative Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology, Private Bag, 9400, South Auckland Mail Centre 224, New Zealand.

Video works must be in the form of mp4 files and can be submitted via private Vimeo / Youtube links.

The submission limits are: eight poems, eight images, three video/performances, 7,000 words of prose.

Inquiries to: ikajournal@gmail.com

Editor: Anne Kennedy
Arts Editor: Richard Orjis