Thursday, 11 May 2017

Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2017




I'm happy to have been asked to share the following press release about Poetry Day:

Kia ora and welcome all National Poetry Day organisers and enthusiasts, present and past!

Registrations for Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2017 are now open!

It’s also our twentieth anniversary, so this year is going to be bigger, better and more extraordinary than ever. (For registrations details and links, see below).

Miriam Barr, our fantastic NPD coordinator for the last couple of years, is now focussing on other interests and projects. My name is Harley Hern, and I have the pleasure of working in the new role of National Poetry Day Administrator. Many of you know me already; I look forward to working with you further. For those of you I haven’t met, I’m going to enjoy getting to know you as we work together through the countdown. Now, my aim is to build upon the strong foundation created by Miriam, and her predecessor, the glorious Siobhan Harvey.

Here are some updates:
  • Phantom Billstickers remains our sponsor, with greater involvement than ever, greater exposure for NPD through their huge list of followers (and I’m hoping lots of luscious images for us).
  • We’re growing our social media presence further, making it more dynamic and interactive. Facebook is ready for your Poetry Day promotions, comments and as many great photos as you want to post. We’re also on Twitter (@NZPoetryDay).
  • Our website (now at www.poetryday.co.nz ) will soon have fresh images and new poster templates for you to use.

This year we will also launch our soon-to-be-announced twentieth anniversary celebration, so remember to keep this anniversary in mind when you plan your events.

For easier registration, there are some changes:
- We no longer need your full blurb at registration, just an idea of what you’re planning. You can send your draft blurb in later after registrations close. This cuts down the paperwork. (Don’t worry – I’ll remind you of the deadline further in).

- The new and abbreviated online form is available here. Otherwise you can download the registration template, copy into a text document, then transfer your details to the online form in your own time.
Registrations close on the 24th of May. If you are applying for seed funding, the successful applicants will be announced 5 June. Otherwise, you’ll hear from me sooner.

National Poetry Day will be on the 25th August (the last Friday of August, as per usual).

That’s enough for now. I will send further updates, tips and advice soon. All the very best with your planning. If you have any questions, please do ask.

Let’s make this 25th August 2017 a fantastic celebration both of the power and beauty of language, and our vibrant poetry community.

Click this link: Register now!

All the very best,

Harley Hern

Harley Hern
Administrator
Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2017
New Zealand Book Awards Trust
poetryday@nzbookawards.org.nz
http://www.nzbookawards

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Reviews & Notices of Poetry NZ Yearbook 2017



I thought I'd better start listing all the reviews and notices we've received of this year's Yearbook so far. You can find a more comprehensive list here, but this should provide you with details of some of the ones I haven't yet mentioned on this blog:

  1. Nicola Legat, Massey University Press website:

    Terrific new New Zealand poetry

    Continually in print since 1951, when it was established by leading poet Louis Johnson, this annual collection of new poetry, reviews and essays is the ideal way to catch up with the latest poetry from established and emerging New Zealand poets.

    Issue #51 features 128 new poems by writers including featured poet Elizabeth Morton, Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither, as well as essays by Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert, and reviews of 33 new poetry collections.

    CATEGORY: Creative arts
    ISBN: 978-0-9941363-5-0
    ESBN: N/A
    PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
    IMPRINT: Massey University Press
    PUBLISHED: 13/03/2017
    PAGE EXTENT: 352
    FORMAT: Soft cover

  2. Sarah Thornton, Massey University Press press release (15/2/17):



    Sarah Thornton, Massey University Press press release (15/2/17)

    POETRY SLAMS, LIVE READINGS, A FLOOD OF NEW COLLECTIONS . . . POETRY IS HOT. THE POETRY NEW ZEALAND YEARBOOK 2017 CELEBRATES AND SHOWCASES NEW POETRY FROM NEW ZEALAND AND ABROAD.

    Poetry New Zealand is an institution; the country’s longest-running poetry magazine, edited by many pre-eminent poets and academics, including Alistair Paterson, Harry Ricketts, Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner.

    The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook has been continuously in print since 1951, when it was established by Wellington poet Louis Johnson. This annual collection of new writing, reviews of new poetry and discussion of poetics, has now found a new home with Massey University Press, who are proud to support the work of emerging talent and established voices.

    As Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 editor Dr Jack Ross writes: ‘Shouting from the rooftops really doesn’t work very well in the long-term. All writers depend on getting sound, well-considered reviews from their peers, and I feel that’s at least as important a part of Poetry New Zealand’s remit as providing a showcase for so many poets, young and old (97 — by my count — in this issue alone).’

    Issue #51 of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook features 125 new poems, including work by featured poet Elizabeth Morton, as well as Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Anna Jackson, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither. The collection also features essays by Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert, and reviews of 33 new poetry collections. Readers will be charmed, challenged and delighted.

    With the publication of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 comes the formal announcement of the inaugural Poetry New Zealand competition. In first place is young Wellington poet Emma Shi; eighteen-year-old Auckland poet Devon Webb takes second place; and Hamilton poet Hayden Pyke comes third.

    The book will be launched at the Devonport library on the evening of Tuesday, 14 March, at a free public event (koha on the door) featuring readings by ten poets, including Michele Leggott.

    About the Editor:

    Dr Jack Ross is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Massey University’s Albany campus. He is the author of five books of poems, including City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal’s Book (2002), To Terezin (2007), Celanie (2012) and A Clearer View of the Hinterland (2014), as well as three novels, a novella, and two collections of short fiction. He has edited a number of books and literary magazines, including (from 2014) Poetry New Zealand.

  3. Nicola Legat, 10 Questions with Jack Ross. Massey University Press website (22/2/17):

    1. Now that it’s published, what pleases you most about New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017?

    I think the thing I like best about it is the number of younger contributors we’ve managed to include. My wife Bronwyn was leafing through it the other day and suddenly burst out: ‘These kids are putting us all to shame!’ That’s about right, I think. It’s not that I’ve relaxed any of my editorial standards to ease them in over the bar — on the contrary, there seem to be a lot of younger writers out there (most of whom I’d never even heard of before), who are writing hard-hitting, honest, beautiful poems. Long may the trend continue! I think some of it may be due to the fact that we now allow — or, rather, encourage — email submissions. You have to be pretty organised (as well as pretty determined) to keep on sending out those typed submissions, complete with stamped self-addressed envelopes, week after week, month after month, the way we used to do ...

  4. Laine Moger, Poetry New Zealand's longstanding poetry magazine set to launch in Devonport. Stuff: Entertainment (9/3/17):




    Ross also maintains that those who want to get a point of view across, particularly political views, should write a poem.

    "People in power don't understand poetry. So the witty poem may be one of the last weapons we have left to puncture power."

    "The real world says poetry is a waste of their [young people's] time. But it's one of the few things that isn't wasting their time," he says.

  5. Graham Beattie, Poetry New Zealand. Beattie's Book Blog - unofficial homepage of the New Zealand book community (14/3/17):

    Poetry New Zealand is New Zealand’s longest-running poetry magazine, showcasing new writing from this country and overseas. It presents the work of talented newcomers and developing writers as well as that of established leaders in the field.

    Founded by Wellington poet Louis Johnson, who edited it from 1951 to 1964 as the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook, it was revived as a biennial volume by Frank McKay in 1971, a series which lasted until 1984. David Drummond (in collaboration with Oz Kraus’s Brick Row Publishing) began to publish it again biannually in 1990. The journal reached its 48th issue in 2014, the year its present managing editor, Jack Ross of Massey University’s School of English and Media Studies, took it back to its roots by renaming it the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook.

    Poetry New Zealand has been edited by some of New Zealand’s most distinguished poets and academics, including Elizabeth Caffin, Grant Duncan, Riemke Ensing, Bernard Gadd, Leonard Lambert, Harry Ricketts, Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner. The journal was overseen from 1993 to 2014 by celebrated poet, novelist, anthologist, editor and literary critic Alistair Paterson ONZM, with help from master printer John Denny of Puriri Press, and guest editors Owen Bullock, Siobhan Harvey and Nicholas Reid.

    The magazine’s policy is to support poetry and poets both in New Zealand and overseas. Each issue since 1994 has featured a substantial feature showcasing the work of a developing or established poet. It also includes a selection of poetry from New Zealand and abroad, as well as essays, reviews and critical commentary.

    Massey University Press - $34.99

  6. Jennifer Little, Abundance of young voices in latest Poetry NZ. About Massey: News (16/3/17):

    Young poets are out in force alongside established scribes in the latest Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, the 67th issue since 1951, and published for the first time by Massey University Press. Poet and managing editor Dr Jack Ross says the 352-page volume, launched this week – with 128 poems, as well as essays and reviews of 33 new poetry collections – includes many new, young poets writing “hard-hitting, honest, beautiful poems”.

  7. Paul Little, "Reviews: New Zealand Books". North & South (April 2017): 86.

    This belongs in the section of your bookcase you’ve set aside for quiet little miracles that we can only be grateful are still part of our literary life. The periodical published its 50th edition last year. You probably missed the newspaper features and the special edition of Seven Sharp – or, indeed, any recognition in this magazine. Here’s hoping the editor and contributors were invited to have a nice cup of tea with Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry.

    This year’s garden of poetic delights features the work of 97 poets and almost as many voices, themes and moods in a tightly formatted volume. Depending on how you calculate these things, at least three generations of poets are represented. There is work in te reo Maori and English. Contributors include venerable names such as Ensing, Leggott, Marshall and Smither, who take their place in the alphabetical queue with newcomers and mid-career poets.

  8. Laine Moger, “Devonport Library launches Poetry New Zealand Yearbook with a slam.” North Shore Times (17/3/17):

    A poet laureate, authors, literature fans and publishers, all gathered at the Devonport Library to celebrate the launch of the 51st issue of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (2017).

    A large crowd, a mix of young and old, gathered on the night of March 14 to purchase the book, enjoy some nibbles, and be entertained by live poetry readings.

    Professor Michele Leggott, New Zealand's inaugural poet laureate and Devonport resident, was the guest speaker.

    The audience was treated to live poetry readings, which included political themes, sickness, broken hearts and life guidelines. ...

    The launch also formally announced the Poetry New Zealand competition winners.

    Wellington poet Emma Shi, 20, was announced the overall winner and performed her poem live at the launch alongside Auckland poet and second place winner, Devon Webb, 20.

    Editor Jack Ross described the winner Emma Shi's poetry as awe-inspiring.

    "She appears to be one of the rare people who appears to have been born with a kind of poetic perfect pitch," Ross said.

    The event drew a large crowd from as far down the country as Wellington. ...

    Hamilton poet Hayden Pyke came third, but was not able to attend on the night.

  9. Booksellers New Zealand, "Indie Top 20 for week ending 18th March 2017.” (18/3/17)

    6

    Poetry New Zealand Yearbook:
    2017

    Jack Ross
    Massey University Press $34.99
    9780994136350.

  10. Paula Green, "Room for Kiwi Poetry to Breathe.” Sunday Star-Times (19/3/17): E27.

    Wellington poet Louis Johnson established the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook in 1951. It has just received a well-deserved makeover by Massey University Press. The new design is eye-catching, the writing has room to breathe and the content is eclectic.

    With Victoria and Otago University Presses publishing Sport and Landfall, it is good to see a literary magazine finding a home in Auckland. It is the only magazine that devotes sole attention to poetry and poetics, with an abundant measure of poems, reviews and essays.

    Editor Dr Jack Ross aims to spotlight emerging and established poets and include “sound, well-considered reviews”. There are just under 100 poets in the issue, including Nick Ascroft, Riemke Ensing, Elizabeth Smither, Anna Jackson, Michele Leggott and Kiri Piahana-Wong.

    When I pick up a poetry journal, I am after the surprise of a fresh voice, the taste of new work by a well-loved poet, the revelatory contours of poetry that both behaves and misbehaves when it comes to questionable rule books. The annual delivers such treats. A welcome find for me is the featured poet: Elizabeth Morton. Morton’s debut collection will be out this year with Makaro Press, so this sampler is perfect with its lush detail, lilting lines and surreal edges. ...

    Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, in its revitalised form, and as a hub for poetry conversations, is now an essential destination for poetry fans. Not all the poems held my attention, but the delights are myriad.

  11. Laine Moger, 'Out & About.' North Shore Times (21/3/17):



    "Out & About." North Shore Times (21/3/17)

  12. Lynn Freeman, "The poetic landscape of Aotearoa 2017." Radio NZ: Standing Room Only (Sunday 26 March 2017):



    The country's longest running poetry magazine has just put out issue 51, an impressive tally in anyone's book. Lynn Freeman spoke to Jack Ross who has edited Poetry New Zealand: Yearbook 2017, featuring new and well established writers. Jack has selected 125 new poems from hundreds submitted internationally, and supplemented them with essays and reviews by other writers keen to get people talking more about poetry.

    Duration:  11′ 20″

  13. Siobhan Harvey, "Book reviews: poetry." NZ Herald (Saturday 8 April 2017):



    In its new incarnation, the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook is a poetic treat. Published annually (rather than biannually as it was under previous editor Alistair Paterson), the compendium of contemporary poetry extends to 350 pages of fabulous poems, essays and reviews. This time the featured poet is a rising star of local literature, Elizabeth Morton, winner of the 2013 Emerging Poets Competition, shortlisted for the 2015 Kathleen Grattan Award and about to have her first full collection, Wolf, published. The Yearbook handsomely showcases this startling new voice with 20 fresh poems and a full interview. Reading the poem "Reincarnation", you'll be blown away by Morton's magical wordcraft and imagery. Equally impressive offerings come from familiar poets such as Stu Bagby, Johanna Emeney, Sue Fitchett, Olivia Macassey and Michael Steven, as well as new names such as Iva Vemich. While Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert offer a triptych of perceptive essays. The result is one of the best New Zealand literary journals around.

  14. Anna Forsyth, "Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017, edited by Jack Ross." The Reader: The Booksellers New Zealand Blog (11 April 2017):

    The best way to take the pulse and determine the health of poetry in New Zealand is to crack open the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. It is proof that the art form is very much alive and vibrant in 2017. As the first issue through Massey University Press, the journal covers a lot of ground. Since its inception in the 1950s, the journal continues to showcase poets of longstanding, such as Riemke Ensing, Michelle Leggott, Owen Marshall, Iain Britton and Elizabeth Smither, while introducing readers to younger, emerging poets, such as Devon Webb, Callum Stembridge and Harriet Beth.

    ... In 2017, the journal celebrates and promotes the work of women poets, both through featuring their work and discussing their books in the review section.

    Elizabeth Morton’s suite is accomplished and mesmerising. At times her work sends the reader on a surreal journey, like a Chagall painting. She drifts in and out of dark themes, from the personal (visiting someone in hospital) to the political (the refugee crisis). It is satisfying and intriguing work: ‘I bring you / blackberries, frankincense, / lorazepam. / I make marionettes with my hands / I make you the best alpaca you’ve ever seen.’

    ... This collection offers jumping off points for anyone, no matter your poetic inclination. Not one to be raced through, each reading brings a fresh new image, ‘when you least expect … a dull ache in the memory (When you least expect) … has the / power to flatten me.’ (Lithium).

  15. Mike, "Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook: 2017." McLeod's Booksellers Ltd.: April Newsletter (Rotorua):

    A journalist recently wrote that the very idea of poetry is seen as somewhat unmanly – it's all about feelings … the ultimate purple prose! Wrong. It's not prose at all, and that's the point. Also, what does that say about the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook here, where almost half of the many contributors are male?

    It may also be that poetry mainly sells only to other poets – in which case the inclusion of so many in this edition is probably a good idea.

    Edited by Jack Ross, the selection favours new and emerging writers. This is brave and generous because the reader is left to decide for themselves what is worthwhile.

    Having repeatedly dipped into the contents, I found myself thinking it was all a bit 'top heavy'. I mean, it's all very good but it is rather literary. There are some truly weird and wonderful lines here but the whole thing would have a wider appeal if there were some slam, some Banksy style equivalent of the message.

    Poetry is capable of this but the first thing to get right is to get a wider audience to actually read it.

    This selection is definitely worth owning, everything here has merit. It is a collection worth dipping into when you are looking for inspiration.



Charles Olsen, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 (16/3/17)


Monday, 27 March 2017

Radio NZ: Standing Room Only [26/3/17]



Standing Room Only

Originally aired on Standing Room Only, Sunday 26 November 2017:


The Poetic Landscape of Aotearoa 2017

The country's longest running poetry magazine has just put out issue 51, an impressive tally in anyone's book. Lynn Freeman spoke to Jack Ross who has edited Poetry New Zealand: Yearbook 2017, featuring new and well established writers. Jack has selected 125 new poems from hundreds submitted internationally, and supplemented them with essays and reviews by other writers keen to get people talking more about poetry.

Duration:  11′ 20″ 




Thursday, 23 March 2017

Laine Moger's article in the North Shore Times




You can read more on the subject of this year's Poetry New Zealand Yearbook by Laine Moger here and here.



"Out & About." North Shore Times (21/3/17)


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Paul Little's Review in North & South



Paul Little: "Review: New Zealand Books." North & South (April 2017): 86


A couple of extracts:
This belongs in the section of your bookcase you’ve set aside for quiet little miracles that we can only be grateful are still part of our literary life. ...

This year’s garden of poetic delights features the work of 97 poets and almost as many voices, themes and moods in a tightly formatted volume. Depending on how you calculate these things, at least three generations of poets are represented. There is work in te reo Maori and English. Contributors include venerable names such as Ensing, Leggott, Marshall and Smither, who take their place in the alphabetical queue with newcomers and mid-career poets. ...

This year’s featured poet is Liz Morton, a real page-turner of a poet whose “Googling Refugees” combines the personal and political with a pitch-perfect combination of fury and sorrow.

But the most remarked-upon feature of the book is likely to be Janet Charman’s provocative psychoanalysis of Allen Curnow, focusing on his hostility to women poets as part of a wider examination of his critical misogyny and its legacy. Non-participation in World War II and a determination to rid poetry of a taint of feminisation, says Charman, led a generation of men to over-react in claiming poetry as a masculine activity.

... The idea of a return to mainstream enthusiasm for poetry – which was probably never that great but certainly greater than now – is hardly plausible, but that shouldn’t discourage efforts, such as this book, to bring it about.

Thanks, Paul Little!



Greg Bowker: Paul Little


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Images from the Poetry NZ Yearbook 2017 Launch



Koha [photo: BL]




Books [photo: BL]




Rachel Cooper (Paradox Books) [photo: MUP]




Booktable [photo: BL]



Order of Service:

Introduction:
Jan Mason (Devonport Library Associates)

MC:
Jack Ross (Editor: Poetry New Zealand)

Launch speech:
Michele Leggott

Publisher (Massey University Press):
Nicola Legat

Featured Poet:
Elizabeth Morton

PNZ Poetry Prize winners:
Emma Shi (1st)
Devon Webb (2nd)

Other poets from the issue:
Stu Bagby
Johanna Emeney
Emma Harris
Kiri Piahana-Wong
Lisa Samuels

Conclusion:
Jack reads out Hayden Pyke's third prize-winning poem




Jan Mason [photo: JE]




Jack Ross [photo: MUP]




Jack Ross [photo: JE]




Jack Ross [photo: BL]




Michele Leggott [photo: MUP]




Michele Leggott [photo: JE]




Michele Leggott [photo: BL]




Nicola Legat [photo: MUP]




Nicola Legat [photo: JE]




Nicola Legat [photo: BL]




Elizabeth Morton (Featured poet, Yearbook 2017) [photo: MUP]




Elizabeth Morton [photo: BL]




Emma Shi (First prize winner, Inaugural PNZ Poetry Award) [photo: MUP]




Emma Shi [photo: BL]




Devon Webb [photo: BL]




Stu Bagby [photo: BL]




Johanna Emeney [photo: BL]




Johanna Emeney [photo: David Beaney]




Emma Harris [photo: BL]




Kiri Piahana-Wong [photo: BL]




Lisa Samuels (Featured poet, Yearbook 1) [photo: MUP]




Lisa Samuels [photo: BL]




The right wing [photo: BL]




The crowd (1) [photo: MUP]




The left wing [photo: BL]




The crowd (2) [photo: JE]


Key:
JE = Johanna Emeney
BL = Bronwyn Lloyd
MUP = Massey University Press

Upcoming events: Lauris Edmond Launch [2/4/17]





Steele Roberts Aotearoa Publishers
warmly invite you to celebrate the Auckland launch of
Night Burns with a White Fire
The Essential Lauris Edmond

edited by Frances Edmond & Sue Fitchett
3.30pm to 5pm Sunday, 2 April 2017
at
Gus Fisher Gallery, the Kenneth Myers Centre,
74 Shortland Street, Auckland Central
To be launched by Riemke Ensing with readings of Lauris’s poetry.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
RSVP: Frances Edmond – feedmond@gmail.com by 26 March 2017


Thursday, 2 March 2017

10 Questions with Jack Ross [22/2/17]



photograph: Mary Paul

10 Questions with Jack Ross
Editor of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017


This interview appeared on the Massey University Press website on 22nd February 2017:

  1. Now that it’s published, what pleases you most about New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017?

  2. I think the thing I like best about it is the number of younger contributors we’ve managed to include. My wife Bronwyn was leafing through it the other day and suddenly burst out: ‘These kids are putting us all to shame!’ That’s about right, I think. It’s not that I’ve relaxed any of my editorial standards to ease them in over the bar — on the contrary, there seem to be a lot of younger writers out there (most of whom I’d never even heard of before), who are writing hard-hitting, honest, beautiful poems. Long may the trend continue! I think some of it may be due to the fact that we now allow — or, rather, encourage — email submissions. You have to be pretty organised (as well as pretty determined) to keep on sending out those typed submissions, complete with stamped self-addressed envelopes, week after week, month after month, the way we used to do . . .

  3. It’s edition #51. That’s a lot of years. What's been the Yearbook's contribution to New Zealand poetry over that long period?

  4. Well, it’s done a number of things over the years. First of all, under Louis Johnson’s editorship, I think it offered a funkier alternative to the rather po-faced pieties of Charles Brasch’s Landfall. That’s not to belittle Brasch’s undoubted achievements, but his single-minded pursuit of aesthetic excellence did involve a certain abridgment of the fun factor.

    The magazine as I first got to know it, though, midway through Alistair Paterson’s twenty-year incumbency, had some rather different things going for it. Alistair was tireless in coaching and advising and prodding the poets who submitted work to him to think about every possible word and detail in their poems before he would print them. He’d ring you up and quiz you about your work on the phone, and woe betide you if you didn’t have a good reason for everything you’d done.

    I feel that I myself owe him a considerable debt not just for those coaching sessions, but for the example he set in taking his editorship of the magazine so seriously. No one would appear in his pages on reputation only. By the same token, no one was excluded who could supply him with good work.

    There’ve been many changes of personnel and approach in the seven decades Poetry New Zealand has been appearing here. I don’t think it’s ever forgotten its central goal to reflect rather than dictate the nature of New Zealand poetry, though. We’d like to be seen as more of a mirror than a poetic movement.

  5. You must be very conscious of that heritage and legacy as its current editor?

  6. Very much so. In fact, I gave a paper on that very subject, what editing a magazine called Poetry New Zealand ought to entail, at the University of Canberra late last year. After my talk a guy came up to me. He told me that the one thing I’d left out of my piece was fun. He said that the images I’d put up of the first two issues I’d edited did look like fun, but some of the covers of the earlier numbers looked anything but!




    He went on to explain that his own day job was working as a clown in hospital wards — trying to cheer up people in the most extreme distress. What he said made immediate sense to me, I must say. I do have a rather peculiar sense of humour, which is constantly getting me in trouble. But I suspect that puncturing the pretensions of the great with humour is one of the things that poetry does best. If there were no laughs in an issue of Poetry New Zealand I’d put together, I think it would be time to give up the job for good.

  7. Your featured poet is Elizabeth Morton. What is distinctive about her work?



  8. Liz Morton’s poems have a kind of otherworldly air to them which fascinates me. I love reading them, and featuring her seemed like the best way of getting to see more of them. She’s undoubtedly a writer of great technical talent, but I guess what really attracts me to her work is its uncompromising nature. She goes places other people are afraid to go.

  9. The Yearbook's reviews of other volumes of poetry are very comprehensive. Why is this important?

  10. There’s nothing more depressing than pouring your heart and soul into a book or a work of art and then getting no response to it whatsoever. And I have to admit that there’s a strong tendency in New Zealand culture to greet anything too ambitious, or which rocks the boat too much, with dead silence. I don’t feel that’s good enough. Even if our reactions can’t always be entirely positive, I still think that the time and trouble that goes into making even the slimmest volume of poems shouldn’t be ignored. In the course of my own publishing career, I’ve received some amazingly detailed and helpful reviews, from people who’ve really gone out of their way to try to understand exactly what I thought I was up to. I feel very grateful for that. The only real response to such dedication is to try my best to return the favour to others.

  11. Tell us about the poetry competition winners announced in this edition.

  12. The three prize-winners have very different attributes, as well as a few things in common:

    Hayden Pyke, the third prize-winner is, I suspect, as much at home with song lyrics as he is with poetry. The two are generally mutually exclusive, but he does seem to me to be one of those rare people who can write a poem which would work equally well on the page and as a song. There’s a mordant wit there, alongside a lot of frustrated romanticism.



    Jocelen Jenon: Devon Webb


    Devon Webb, who came second with her poem ‘Note to Self,’ has a lot of good advice to impart — and some not so good advice too, I fear. The fact that it’s so hard to tell where one begins and the other ends is (I guess) what appeals to me so strongly in her poem. How tongue-in-cheek is it? I guess we’ll never know, but it’s amusing to speculate about it.



    Emma Shi is one of those rare people who appears to have been born with a kind of poetic perfect pitch. Her work is strange, and suggestive, and disturbing. It has a lot to do with illness, and death, as well as the intricacies and perfections of nature. There’s something quite awe-inspiring about her talent.

  13. What's going on in poetry in New Zealand right now, do you think?

  14. One thing’s for certain — there’s a lot of it about. Poetry-writing, that is: not necessarily poetry-buying. We used to joke, half ruefully, that if all the people who write poetry in New Zealand bought just one book of it every year, then it would become a growth industry. Seriously, though, I think that some combination of the ease of digital distribution with a general sense of despair about the state of the world has made it seem, all of a sudden, more relevant to people than ever. If you want to attract the attention of the mighty, it’s probably more effective to write a poem than an editorial nowadays.

  15. What’s the best time of day for you for editing?

  16. Well, I write first thing in the morning, so I guess that I do most of my editing in the late morning / early afternoon. I have to feel fresh to look at people’s work with attention, but I’m also one of those strange people who quite likes arranging things tidily on a page, and making sure all the commas are in the right place, so that’s something I can happily spend hours on at any time of day.

  17. What strategies do you deploy when the going gets tough?

  18. A friend of mine, Grant Duncan, once gave me an excellent piece of advice about editing in general. He said always to be very polite, and to treat people with the utmost respect. Every time I’ve ignored that advice, for whatever reason, I’ve regretted it. It’s good counsel in a worldly sense, but also on a moral level: potential contributors to a publication deserve consideration, not disdain, and I try hard to give that to them. My other strategy is never to send off an important letter or email without sleeping on it. Nine times out of ten a tersely worded missive can be simply deleted next morning with no harm done.

  19. What are you reading at the moment?

  20. I’m reading The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, which T. S. Eliot called the first, the longest and the best detective novel in English. I’ve always had a taste for Dickens’s novels, but I hadn’t previously read much by his long-time friend and collaborator Wilkie Collins. Now I’ve read four of them in a row, and they really are among the strangest and maddest books I’ve ever read: Armadale in particular, but also No Name and The Woman in White.

    I’m also reading the new Norton Critical edition of the Arabian Nights, which is a set text for my new Massey Advanced Fiction Writing course. I have a real passion for the 1001 Nights, and have been collecting as many as possible of its different versions and translations in various languages for more than twenty-five years now.