Poetry NZ, New Zealand’s foremost poetry magazine, edited by Alistair Paterson (ONZM), presents the finest in new writing from home and abroad. Each issue offers poems by talented newcomers and developing poets as well as already acclaimed and established writers. Issue 41 features the work of Richard Reeve of Dunedin, whose four published volumes of poetry have received wide critical acclaim. Three sample poems can be found here: The old breed by Richard Reeve, A farmer’s daughter contemplates by Janet Newman, and The family prospers by Ann Walker.
The ones that are presented hesitantly and self-effacingly by first-timers. The ones written by old stagers who have been around the block often and often. The blustering ones that challenge you with notes declaring ‘I’ve been published widely overseas, so you’d better print me or else!’ The modest ones, even from the well-established. The therapeutic ones that started as a journal at the suggestion of a doctor, and are now continued as a blog, regular as the daily Aurorix. The degree-in-creative-writing ones. The wouldn’t-touch-a-creative-writing-class-with-a-bargepole ones. The academic ones. The bohemian ones. The rhymed ones. The unrhymed ones. The ones from people who still know what assonance and alliteration and half-rhyme are, and can pick a metaphor from a simile from an allusion sure as breathing. The almost-prose ones. The free-form ones. The one-word-per-line ones. The purely prose ones. The stuck-on yesterday’s- avant-garde ones. The trying-hard-to-be-today’s-avant-garde ones. The what-the-hell-is-the-avant-garde? ones. The come-back-Willy-Yeats ones. The nationalist ones. The cosmopolitan ones. The mementoes-of-my-European-trip ones. The referenced-to-the-great-tradition ones. The pop culture ones. The hip ones. The from-the-hip ones. The hipreplacement ones. They are all poetry. They can all work or not work or light a flame or lie there and die there. They all cross an editor’s desk or materialise in an editor’s in-box. They were all written by people who cared. Acceptance is a joy, and rejection a pain for both editor and edited. To all who submitted work to Poetry New Zealand #41, thanks and humility in equal measure. And a curse strong and loud to the prescribers, the you’re-not-in-the-right-in-group-so-you-don’t-count people, the mentors who insist on one model only (Pound or Creeley or whomsoever), the clingers to the once experimental that has now ossified. To all who read widely, see strongly, write hopefully and find their own voice, a golden crown. This issue’s featured poet sees the world with the eyes of a man still young. By happenstance, most (but not all) of the books given short reviews here were written by older people. Siobhan Harvey reviews two books on people old enough to be definitively collected. Denys Trussell writes of two people whose long careers have fostered much poetry. As for the plan of attack, so for the age-group in poetry. Ain’t no age for rock’n’roll.
— Nicholas Reid
Schist-head, bog republican, right river ranker
at work on the slippery floor of their stream. So they regard him
who knock heads with this old outcrop
professor, ecologist-irritant to the corporates,
friend of a just farmer, foe of the plain greedy.
The Busters, clan Tuft-Giddocht, Smiths, Feckhoffs,
sniping at mountains, skinning the tussock
for their dairy and gondolas, vehicle-testing stations,
wind farms, reservoirs, quarries, skifields,
insatiable; yet he tolerates their ignorance.
Exhausted humanist, botanist at home on a scarp
assessing grasssweat, or yanking out the pines
that creep from plantations bordering the Takitimu Mountains,
the Southern Garvies, the Lammermoor;
shadowy hill beauty in his threats, the vulnerable
reluctance of water and earth to conform.
Unimproved country, who will fight for it
when time takes him?; when man worn down
no longer considers the gentian and the gecko,
and jackhammer, plank and crawler crane
fake grumbling congress in the hinterland.
— Copyright Richard Reeve, 2010.
This time last year
I was bogged in gumboots, Swanndri,
up to my chassis in mud splat,
wading through Scotch thistle,
blackberry gone Triffid.
Now, the Tararuas cut a graph
above anorexic contours,
stringy sheep nibble limp knots
lashed to bedrock, cows collapse
gasping for greenery, rumens clogged.
Relatives from West Australia ogle
tongues of glaciers, even Mount Cook’s
peak (last time they came the mountains
were invisible, earth and sky indivisible
with cloud stiff as egg white all month long).
The nation’s farmers dream of rain
(and accompanying sou’westers’ scream
blaster, frozen nights, slosh and batter).
I cleave to the sun:
— Copyright Janet Newman, 2010.
The children’s chaos masters you;
the city you, offices, sirens in place:
faces file before you, thoughts unspoken,
chaos, unaffordable! Great Pater/Mater
familias, behind the face the skull, best
be busy. Baubles elemental/human made,
streets no darker/lighter than trees burrow,
how can things fantastical not divide, multiply,
not profit more than as & where birdsong, cars
rifle hard down a street up, where flowers
rush uniformly yellow at the end of uniformly
green bushes, engines on a high, where all
on Spring lean, & thanks to Earth rotating,
away lean, that up to a bidding no sprier,
more alluring in the exhaust of a city,
a four-poster magnolia took the honours,
rooted, airily circling, flowers posted,
perfumed, large, cream-white.
— Copyright Ann Walker, 2010.