Welcome to Turbine 13.
The poetry in this edition of Turbine represents a range of poets in various stages of their careers, from those just setting out from their MA year into the wild world of a writing life, to those who have long-since forged the way — many established and prize-winning poets, editors and teachers, and visiting international poets who we are thrilled to feature in the edition.
Some poetry highlights of Turbine 13 include American poet Mary Ruefle’s ‘Long White Cloud’, a work inspired by her visit to New Zealand as an IIML international guest writer, and ‘Some Things to Place in a Coffin’, former IIML director Bill Manhire’s tribute to NZ artist Ralph Hotere, who died in 2013. We are lucky enough to have a recording of Bill reading the poem too. (In a delightful quirk in the way loops form in time, the 03 and 13 editions of Turbine have a connection to Ralph Hotere — he appears in the cockpit of a Tiger Moth in the masthead of Turbine 03 — worth a look.)
We have poetry from the 2014 IIML Writer in Residence, Hinemoana Baker, and also from Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Sara Martin, convenor of a poetry workshop at the IIML this summer.
The content and style of the poetry section is as varied as its contributors, and shows a poetry community alive and thriving in New Zealand. Stylistically we have a span from more traditional lyric forms to a prose poem book review. Thematically there’s absence — a missing dog and mother, a father caught only in the distance of time and image. There’s a tension between what is said/unsaid — by a family on a beach, in political talk at a party. There’s exploration of the discomforts of ‘normal life’ — our negotiations for space with nature/birds, coming to terms with ageing and time (a year now ‘a mere tilt of the head’), a family Christmas rubbing up to death (indeed there’s an ever-present semi-sinister mortality in many of the poems, even in an icon of children’s literature). We use language to draw our lives and the spaces we exist in, and in some of the poems language seems to be getting away on us, while in others it’s used to regain control — to ‘in story/tell them/back into the ground’.
We hope you will enjoy the poetry on offer here, and find some poems that for you ‘make our experience the mysterious thing it is’, to quote Mary Ruefle. In wrapping up on the poetry, we’d like to offer a couple of other gems from Mary Ruefle’s masterclass to contemplate:
(On poetry): ‘It’s a life-long journey, it never ends. We remain humble beginners every time we sit down to a blank page and it scares the shit out of us’.
And this flooring and accurate statement: ‘The world you are born into is not the world you will die in... It will be unrecognisable’.
At best poetry might offer us that same experience of making our world and lives unrecognisable and somehow new.
A highlight of Turbine 13’s non-fiction spread is an extract by Helena Wiśniewska Brow, whose 2013 folio Give Us This Day was the first memoir to win the IIML’s Adam Foundation Prize and will be published by Victoria University Press in October 2014. We’re pleased to see the number of non-fiction submissions increasing and are delighted with the variety of pieces we have here. A challenge to the 2014 edition perhaps to grow this further!
This edition of Turbine features extracts from novels, short stories and flash fiction from emerging writers and published writers. Nine of the eighteen prose pieces were contributed by MA students who attended the IIML in 2013, and there is also work from graduates of the 2011 course.
Closeness, it turns out, is a theme in many of these stories. An elderly man yearns to increase his connection with a visitor who seems oddly familiar. A theology student trips on magic mushrooms in an attempt to feel closer to god. A single mother on a housing estate takes her first steps towards her exotic new neighbour, while a young woman discovers that staying true to a mentally ill friend exposes rifts in other relationships.
Time travels backwards to reveal the end of a childhood friendship, and then its beginning. An ocean swimmer sets himself the perilous goal of reaching landforms he christens Close Island and Far Island. Will he make it? Can he bridge the gap?
There are collisions and confrontations: between cars, between hospital patients, between a man and a rattlesnake, between a painter and his increasingly sinister subject. A country boy and a city boy explore the meaning of meaning of violence in their lives, while a boy from another world finds a satisfying way to expel an unwanted passenger from his magic carpet.
New beginnings beckon. An island of birdsong, stranded jellyfish and mad-eyed possums is harder to live in but even harder to leave, while the shiraz-quaffing members of a book group debate whether to grant a former member a fresh start after her release from prison. Meanwhile, in a bach beside the sea, two women play Scrabble while contemplating domestic betrayal.
IIML prose students are encouraged to be collaborative rather than competitive, but the gloves – the oven gloves, at least – are off when it comes to baking. The baking roster for the Thursday writing workshop found an unexpected echo in two of the works collected here. A Christmas cake and a birthday cake are offers not just of empty calories but of love: will they be accepted or rejected?
In addition to offering stimulating new writing, Turbine offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the IIML. A Q&A with Victoria University writer in residence Carl Shuker explores subjects as diverse as postmodernism, the narrative voice, secret codes of office life and the joy of discovering books in borrowed baches. Excerpts from students’ reading journals discuss writing about war, the treatment of time in novels, and the endings of chapters.
Collected quotes from a talk given by visiting Scottish writer Janice Galloway range from the inspirational (‘Art is showing the ordinary in an extraordinary way’) to the comforting (‘Most of us don’t really know what the hell is going on’) to the strangely liberating (‘Destroy!’).
On that joyous note of creation and destruction, we leave you to go forth and read.
Linley Boniface & Morgan Bach.
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