Poetry NZ Issue 38
Issue 38

Jack Ross

Johanna Aitchison, Raewyn Alexander, Rosetta Allan, Ruth Arnison, Serie Barford, Guy R. Beining, Robert James Berry, Iain Britton, Tony Chad, Janet Charman, Jennifer Compton, Craig Cotter, Jen Crawford, Brett Cross, Shirley Deuchrass, Grant Duncan, J. J. Fagan, Derek Fenton, Sue Fitchett, Janis Freegard, Michael Hall, Alice Hooton, David Howard, Linda Hunter, Hayden Hyams, Helen Jacobs, Sophia Johnson, Mahdy Khaiyat, Leonard Lambert, Noel Monahan, Tim Nees, Jenny O’Brien, John O’Connor, Jacqueline C. Ottaway, Mark Pirie, Kerry Popplewell, Lee Posna, Richard Reeve, Nicholas Reid, Michael Sharkey, Michael Steven, Ann Walker, Saint James Harris Wood

Lee Posna: Contemporary American Poetry

Richard Reeve: Classic, Contemporary and New NZ Poets in Performance, ed. Jack Ross & Jan Kemp (3 vols)

Books and magazines in brief:
Jack Ross

Poetry NZ, New Zealand's leading poetry magazine, showcases 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. This issue features the poetry of Jen Crawford, one of the most innovative of our younger poets, who has published widely both in this country and in Australia. Three sample poems can be found here: from Pop Riveter by Jen Crawford, Night by Jenny O'Brien, and Summer 1943 by Kerry Popplewell.


A couple of touchstones:

  • My feeling about technique in art is that it has about the same value as technique in lovemaking. Th at is to say, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill; but what you want is passionate virtuosity.
    — John Barth
  • One example of the genuine article undoes all the ambient speciousness.
    — Lee Posna
I’d like to add a third: this one from the review in this issue of Poetry NZ of the trilogy of New Zealand Poets in Performance anthologies edited by myself and Jan Kemp:
  • All criticism is inherently subjective; why should it matter anyway? Stop reading; go out and buy the things. — Richard Reeve
Keep at it appears to be the common factor behind all of these statements. It’s never been a particularly easy task to make good poems, and once you stop the talking and get down to writing there’s a disconcerting lack of signposts.

That, perhaps, can be the value of a magazine such as this. It’s not that any editor’s opinion of your work should matter all that much, but there is the pleasure of seeing your poem jostling and chumming up with the other poems, rather like a child on the first day of school. Some of those kids will become friends, others sworn enemies, most just faces in the crowd, but your interactions with them will teach you a lot of vital things about yourself.

‘Robust and opinionated’ would be my description of Richard Reeve’s review of Jan and my set of audio/text anthologies. Nor does Lee Posna’s essay on Contemporary American Poetry pull many punches. I’m not sure I agree either with Richard’s attempt to revive those old South Island / North Island divisions or with Lee’s strictures on a certain anthology entitled Legitimate Dangers. I like their commitment and seriousness, though. Above all, I respond to the joy they clearly take in discussing (and writing) good poems.

Th anks to Alistair Paterson for allowing me to take on the guest-editing of this issue; thanks to Lee Posna and Bronwyn Lloyd, who helped so much with shaping it and putting it together; thanks to John Denny for his wisdom and expertise; thanks, too, to Jen Crawford, whose searing ‘Pop Riveter’ poems seem to me to sum up everything implied by the phrase ‘passionate virtuosity’.

Jack Ross

when I make one cup
Dafur says
‘why you make
only one

when I make
two cups
Dafur says
‘Th ank you,
thank you,
thank you,

doesn’t make tea.)

— Copyright Jen Crawford, 2009.


Another day ends
it’s night yet again
How I hate the dark
How I wish it would never come

I lie in bed watching TV
and listening to my cat purr
I jump at every noise
Why am I so scared?

I know God’s with me!
So why am I still scared?

My cat jumps on my bed
and looks at me with me
with his big yellow eyes
I give him a kiss

It’s still night and I still can’t sleep
Why, oh why, do I hate night so much?

When, oh when, will this night ever end?

— Copyright Jenny O'Brien, 2009.

Summer 1943

We live in a house of women.
Somewhere else, there is war.

Blades of gladioli close over my head.
I walk down a thin strip of grass.

Flowers open their moist mouths above me.
Petals have the bloom of face powder.

The air is still, but not silent.
The dog falls asleep on the step.

In the paddock, plums are ripening
On trees heavy with heat.

— Copyright Kerry Popplewell, 2009.