Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 7. 1969.
I Wish to thank Grant Thompson in the last Salient for taking the trouble to comment on my reply to your Literary Editor. To promote more discussion, to open the debate Trevor James seems to hove been attempting to foster for some weeks now, was part of my intention.
Mr Thompson is, however, at error in one or two of hit suppositions about me. The "New Zealand literary set" is something in which I have little interest, preferring at I do to go it alone: indeed. I know only four poets personally. There are the cliques, of course, but these are by their very nature pretty masturbatory and therefore, hardly fertile ground for the development of a distinctive and healthy literature. I look issue with Mr James primarily because of what I thought to bo hit peculiar preachings, which have at times bordered on arrogance. I sympathise with his general aims.
The way of my laying what I said was not, so far at I am aware, derivative from any of the tin gods of Kiwi Poetry. It was, I think, vigorously put—hardly the hallmark of our national polemic.
As for my standing "on the scene". I have been published in "The N.Z. Listener", "Cock". "Crucible", "N.Z.U. Arts Festival Yearbook 1968", Salient, and I am to be published in "Arena" and "Argot". Don't think I'm boasting —one seems to need "Landfall" behind one to do that—but I am fairly well-known at a poet—good or bad. I've had my share of rejection slips — which is, presumably, the same hang-up as the one which prompted your snide remarks re certain of our literary magazines.
I don't regard myself at a "Contemporary New Zealand Poet", simply because, like a few others, I'm not exactly in the mainstream of Kiwi Poetry—and never, God willing, will be. And I know all about poetry Before Eliot—I just happen to think the freer poetry it of formal restrictions and devices these days, the better it is for it.
My reference to Mr James being an "academic" does not put me on side with The Pig—it's all a matter of Who understands What.
"Amateurism" among student poets? A sweeping statement. Pick up a volume by one of the aforementioned tin gods sometime, and see if you reckon it the work of a "professional".
And, Mr Thompson, do you really Know death? Do you Know the purpose of life? Are you Sure you Have a soul? That's what poetry's about—digging for answers, emerging with clues to what could be the truth. That's also why poetry parallels life Itself to bloody well.
I do not "not like" the literary page. I do not "like" pages, or magazines, or books per se— but what's in or on them, yes, may be. And in spite of, or perhaps because of Mr James' Continuing Campaign, he has yet to come up with much of any worth or value—as he himself has the good sense to admit. And, oh, those SHY people who hide behind initials — apart from Pound and Apollinaire, of coursel
An "honest" response it may well be—but, unfortunately, there's more to literature and art (or Art) than naked, ingenuous honesty. The difficulty is always to keep that none-the-less integral quality there, in just proportion to such things as style, form, end good expression , Most Kiwi Poetry is NOT honest for these reasons, an din my humble opinion it isn't GOOD for the same reason. There's a vacuum at the tired heart of it, and the job young poets in this country have other, more various heart — be-is to move away and make an-cause the old one, even reconditioned, or as we have teen in the work of some, transplanted, just won't go. Given a fair chance publications-wise, I'd say, going from the evidence of the work of a lot of relative "unknowns". I'd give us excellent odds. We don't need A School —but practical collaboration on the creation of new outlets would not go amiss.
As you're one of the unknowns, Mr Thompson, you might like to contribute to a book called "The Next Revolution", P.O. Box 3538 Wellington. We're not concerned with fashion—we want good, honest poetry.