Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 2. 7th March 1973
Two basic groups of literary magazines' coexist in New Zealand, those that publish as sufficient material and means come to hand, concentrating on 'literature', and often with scant regard to layout or unity, and the two heavies which both purport to be 'a New Zealand Quarterly', and to reflect trends far more than the smaller fry.
However, there are only a limited number of "names' to go around; Islands has successfully wooed the best of them, that is, the more exciting workers. The list of contributors to the latest Landfall (No.104) tells the keen observer of the local literary jungle that Landfall has been forced to employ writers from the lower level of the literary pecking order, writers who can be described as conservative, rather than the brash experimenters whose work seeks to confront rather than seduce. The one lively piece in Landfall 104 is Jill McCracken's interview with Jenny McLeod. Louis Johnson returns with two subtle and rather unobtrusive poems? his relaxed style showing up the less assured style of the younger poets printed. Alister Campbell's brief appearance is like a Wild-smith illustration, a strong colouring of the event. Public affairs is covered by F.M. Auburn's solemn pronouncement on the proposed government computer centre; he seems just as upset at how much of 'the taxpayers' money' it could waste as at the threat to privacy. The book reviews are sound but tend to get bogged in pomposity; Con Bollinger's review of 'Womans Suffrage in NZ' the only relief. On the whole Landfall 104 is as dull as its cover, which looks like faded wallpaper.
Islands 2 manages far better to live up to its 'NZ quarterly' aim, with an extremely good coverage of theatre (three articles, including Murray Edmunds on NZ group theatres), books, and two lucid if a little dated articles on the Listener debacle and Immigration policy-plus a profusely illustrated appreciation of Brent Wong's work (compared with Landfall's' photos of 4 Doris Lusk paintings), and a heap of good reading. Islands 2 is in fact far more interesting than Islands 1, which augurs well for future issue.
The editor has managed to put his hands on three good short stories (a feat which in NZ publishing deserves an accolade), one of which, by J.R. Wilkins is a beauty. There are three poetry sequences which all explore relationships between the poet, his environment and his consciousness of how these hinge together i.e. the editor has edited his material not only in the selection of good material, but also in publishing related pieces in the same edition—a rare occurrence in NZ. I'm also pleased to see some unheard names, again rare in the claustrophobic mutual admiration literary scene.
Lipsync 2 shares many of Islands 2 good qualities—a sense of unity in the selection, a good coverage of books not reviewed elsewhere, and potted autobiographies of the writers. Again, this issue is a lot better than the first. Pasley provides a good selection of 'conversational' poetry, the stuff which cross references experience in a monologue both internal and external. Much of this is well worth reading, particularly Alan Loney and Diane Hooper. The tendency to crib from others' tone and experience, plus a dash of self-indulgence is evident in Murray Edmunds and Don Long. Brian Turner's article on Baxter is one of the more balanced tributes, but reads a little jerkily. Tony Simpson comments on his wife's drawings in an excellent piece of high school cleverness.
Lively and sincere, if a little sentimental is Don Colebrook Jnr's collection 'Poems or Something'. No consummate technician of the glib emotion like eg. Sam Hunt, Don nevertheless endears himself in a very uneven, entertaining collection.
Peter Olds surfaces again in a Cave Edition of 'On Probation' a long poem which has force, but misdirected into maudlin self indulgence instead of harshness, which is how it needs to go