Best New Zealand Poems is published annually by the International Institute of Modern Letters, and aims to introduce readers—especially internationally—to leading contemporary New Zealand poets. The poems are chosen to show the vitality and range of current writing. We have shamelessly modelled this online project on the successful US paperback anthology, The Best American Poetry. Each year we publish 25 poems from recent literary magazines and poetry collections, where possible including notes about and by the poet, as well as links to related publishing and literary websites. In this way we hope that readers will be able to follow up fresh discoveries. There are plenty to be made.
The editorship of Best New Zealand Poems changes annually. This year’s editor is Christchurch poet, editor, playwright and fiction writer Bernadette Hall, who taught at the IIML during 2011. Earlier editors were Chris Price (2010), Robyn Marsack (2009), James Brown (2008), Paula Green (2007), Anne Kennedy and Robert Sullivan (2006), Andrew Johnston (2005), Emma Neale (2004), Robin Dudding (2003), Elizabeth Smither (2002) and Iain Sharp (2001).
This edition brings with it another changing of the guard. Bill Manhire retires at the end of 2012, and while he hasn’t yet left the building, he has already relinquished the role of series editor for Best New Zealand Poems. The anthology is just one of many lively projects Bill has initiated during his time at Victoria University, and we aim to take good care of it as it enters its second decade.
While Best New Zealand Poems is a digital native, we still like books—and so last year we chose to celebrate the journal’s tenth birthday with a great leap sideways from the digital domain into the world of print. The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (Victoria University Press), edited by Bill Manhire and Damien Wilkins, offers a condensed view of the first decade, with over 60 poets represented. In a period when the future of the book is being hotly debated, we are encouraged that the anthology is already in its second printing.
Best New Zealand Poems is supported by a grant from Creative New Zealand, whose assistance we gratefully acknowledge. Creative New Zealand’s grant goes entirely to contributors and editor.
Thanks as ever to Ralph Hotere, whose drawing for the first edition of James K Baxter’s Jerusalem Sonnets (Bibliography Room, University of Otago, 1970) we have used on our opening page.
International Institute of Modern Letters