Monday 8 December 2014

Poetry NZ Wellington Launch [1/12/14]

Cover image: Renee Bevan / Cover photograph: Caryline Boreham
/ cover design: Ellen Portch & Brett Cross


As part of Massey University’s sponsorship of the Australian Associated Writing Programmes Conference, we are proud to launch the Poetry NZ Yearbook and invite you to attend the celebration.

The launch event will include Jack Ross, the new Managing Editor of Poetry NZ, and a number of the other poets included. The issue will be launched by Dr Ingrid Horrocks of the School of English and Media Studies.

The evening will begin with the launch of the Aotearoa Creative Writing Research Network (ACWRN) website.

The line-up of invited readers includes the following:

Jake Arthur
Paul Hetherington
Ingrid Horrocks
Thérèse Lloyd
Janet Newman
Karina Quinn
Liang Yujing

Date: Monday 1 December
Time: 6pm – 7:30pm
Venue: Meow Cafe, 9 Edward Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Light refreshments will be served during the evening.

We are also grateful to the W.H. Oliver Humanities Research Academy at Massey for supporting this event.

You are also welcome to attend the many other public events associated with the AAWP conference being held on Massey’s Wellington campus. Hone Kouka, Emily Perkins, and Martin Edmond will all be giving plenary addresses, and over sixty other New Zealand and Australian writers will be speaking. For more information about registration please visit

& here (courtesy of the amazing Maggie Hall) is the one picture I have of the event:


Saturday 15 November 2014

Radio NZ: Nine to Noon [14/11/14]

Nine to Noon

Originally aired on Nine to Noon, Friday 14 November 2014

Poetry New Zealand originated in 1951 and has continued under a range of editors. From this year it is now edited and published by Massey's College of Humanities and Social Science - under creative writing lecturer, Jack Ross.

Duration:  14′ 34″ 

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Images from the Poetry NZ Yearbook launch

Souvenir Programme

The Booktable

Mixing & Mingling

l-to-r: Robert Kempen, Lisa Samuels, Ya-Wen Ho, Michele Leggott & Olive the guide-dog

Dagmara Rudolph with Jack Ross

l-to-r: Alistair Paterson, Elizabeth Morton, Richard von Sturmer, Iain Britton, Michele Leggott &
Lisa Samuels, Jack Ross, Dagmara Rudolph & Kirsten Warner

Inside the Massey Albany Theatre Lab

Rand Hazou, drama lecturer & sound man

Grant Duncan launches the issue

Jack Ross introduces the poets

Lisa Samuels reads

[NB: photos 3, 5, 6 & 8 above were taken by Bronwyn Lloyd,
the others were taken by Sonia Yoshioka-Braid]

Monday 3 November 2014

Upcoming Events: Poems in the Waiting Room [28/2/15]

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ)


The 2015 poetry competition will be judged by Carolyn McCurdie

1st prize: $175 2nd prize: $150 3rd prize: $125

The UBS Dunedin best unplaced Dunedin poet prize: $75

Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ) is a Dunedin based arts in health charity. We supply free poetry cards every season to medical waiting room patients, rest home resident, hospice patients and prison inmates.

Unpublished poems of up to 25 lines on any theme will be accepted. Entry Fee: $5.00 per poem or $10.00 for up to three poems.

Each poem should be typed on one side of A4 paper and two copies posted to Poems in the Waiting Room (NZ), 19 Hunt St, Dunedin 9013, to be received no later than 28 February 2015. No email entries please.


With thanks to our sponsors

Otago University Press

University Bookshop Dunedin

Sunday 26 October 2014

Upcoming Events: Poetry NZ Launch [31/10/14]

Sir Neil Waters Building (Massey Albany)


As part of Massey University’s Writers Read series, we are proud to launch the Poetry NZ Yearbook and invite you to attend the celebration.

The launch event will include Lisa Samuels, the featured poet in this issue, Jack Ross, the new Managing Editor of Poetry NZ, and a number of the other poets included. The magazine will be launched by A/Prof Grant Duncan, of Massey University's College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The line-up of invited readers will include the following:

Iain Britton
Scott Hamilton
Michele Leggott
Elizabeth Morton
Alistair Paterson
Richard von Sturmer
Kirsten Warner

Date: Hallowe’en – Friday 31st October
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Venue: Drama Lab, Sir Neil Waters building,
Albany campus, Massey University

Light refreshments will be served during the evening.

Come in costume if you dare!

Click here to RSVP by Wednesday 29 October

For more information, please contact Jack Ross

For more information about the venue (pictured above), together with down-loadable maps, please visit our website here:

Albany Campus (2014)

There will also be a WELLINGTON launch for the magazine on:

Monday, December 1st

6.00-7.30 pm

Meow Cafe
9 Edward St
Te Aro
Wellington 6011

For more details about this event, and the readers we've invited, watch this space!

Friday 24 October 2014

Booknotes Unbound Interview [23/10/14]

Rachel O'Neill
Photograph: Kim Lesch

Interview with Jack Ross, new editor of Poetry NZ

This interview, by editor Rachel O'Neill, appeared in the NZ Book Council's Booknotes Unbound journal on 23rd October 2014:

Poetry NZ is an international print journal of poetry, established in 1951 by Louis Johnson, and edited between 1993 and 2014 by Alistair Paterson. The magazine is now housed by Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and is edited by Jack Ross. We asked Ross a few questions about editing Poetry NZ, and about local poetry and the brand new issue (full launch details below).

1. If the poet is ‘the priest of the invisible’ as Wallace Stevens put it, the editor is…?

Interesting question. I suppose the obvious answer is ‘the office manager’ (though it’s tempting to say the Pope) – but I have to admit that I tend to prefer rather more subversive models of the poet.

If, like Stevens, one agrees that the function of poets is to give “to airy nothing / a local habitation and a name,” then I myself like to imagine it as a kind of espionage: “God’s spies,” as Shakespeare says in King Lear.

Continuing with that analogy, I guess I like to fantasise about being the editor-as-M (from the Bond films), a kind of shadowy spy-master who assembles the bits and pieces coming across the desk to create a composite mosaic picture of where the principal dangers lie – all those dangers to humanity (eco-catastrophe, political fanaticism and intolerance, the erosion of empathy), which I’m convinced that it’s poets’ job to speak out about. “With your unconstraining voice / Still persuade us to rejoice,” as Auden put it in his great elegy for W. B. Yeats.

2. Poetry NZ was established in 1951. What attracted you to the role of editor of Poetry NZ in particular?

Over the years I’ve received a good deal of help and support personally from Alistair Paterson, my immediate predecessor in the role, and I’ve also seen just how much time and passion he gave to Poetry NZ and all its subscribers and contributors. I didn’t see any way in which I could emulate that degree of commitment while still retaining any time for my own writing (not to mention the demands of my job), so I did turn it down when he initially spoke to me about it.

When he and John Denny, the magazine’s publisher, approached me again late last year, though, it was with the suggestion that Massey University be asked to take over the journal – rather as Otago University has Landfall – and that was quite a different proposition. I began to see ways in which it might become a collective effort, rather than one person’s life’s work.

I think if the magazine is to continue, it has to draw in as many people as possible: guest editors, reviewers, essayists, artists, designers, event-planners and so on. A university gives you good access to such people. Having said that, though, I should emphasise that this is, and will remain, a magazine which reaches out beyond the confines of the institution – or, for that matter, the country. Poetry NZ exists as much to bring our poetry to the world as it does to mirror solely what’s going on in New Zealand.

3. A poet is usually profiled in each issue of Poetry NZ. Can you tell us a little about the featured poet for this issue?

Yes, I’d love to. The featured poet for this issue is Lisa Samuels, who teaches poetry and poetics at Auckland University. The reason I chose Lisa is because she’s an extremist: her poetry is of an extravagantly experimental type, which still tends to polarize people in this country. Also because she’s not a New Zealander, although she has chosen to settle here (and has written a very amusing meditation on the experience in her long book-length poem Tomorrowland – now also available as a CD).

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be reluctant to feature local poets in the future. Like Alistair Paterson, though, I think it’s important that we don’t get too protectively nationalistic in our approach to poetry here. Lisa, for me, ticked all the boxes – and I think that you’ll find the poems I’ve selected from her latest collection a challenging mixture of melopoeia and subversion: though perhaps it’s necessary to hear her perform them to get the full effect.

4. You mentioned that you are keen to showcase ‘emerging – and inevitably challenging – poetic trends, voices and styles.’ Are there interesting threads that link emerging work at the moment, or is the work interesting because it’s diverse?

A bit of both, I guess. I’m no enemy to political engagement in poetry, though I think it has to go beyond mere slogans, to be self-questioning, if it’s to retain any poetic interest. I’m also very interested in the growth of the new pastoral, together with its theoretical branch of eco-poetics, and I see a lot of passionately committed new work coming up in this field. Finally, I have a strong interest in translation and multicultural approaches to poetry. All three of these trends are represented in the issue, but I’d like to be able to include more work under each of these headings in the future.

5. Can you describe some of the poetry that will appear in this issue?

My favourite line so far in from everything I’ve read for the issue (well over a thousand poems, from an estimated 2-300 poets who’ve submitted) has got to be: “Holy s***! A talking cat!” That’s from a poem called ‘OCD and Conversations with Cat,’ by a young Chinese poet from Christchurch.

My favourite poem is probably ‘Life in Unfair,’ by an eleven-year-old girl who sent us a letter which assured us that her parents’ assent had been obtained before the poem was submitted. The poem is about bullying – and it speaks from the heart. I have to say that the moment I saw it I was determined to put it in (I did have a tangential vision of her whipping out a massive copy of Poetry NZ next time she runs into one of the ‘popular girls’ who hound her so unmercifully, and casually flicking it open to her name in the contents page. I suppose that they probably wouldn’t be all that impressed. I can’t think of a better way of protesting the unfairness of life, though, than by writing a poem about it and getting it printed in one of our most widely read literary journals …)

Besides that, there are some lovely translations from the Chinese, which I’ve been able to present in dual-text; some Russian poems translated by Anne Stevenson in collaboration with their author, Eugene Dubnov; a poem written simultaneously in French, English and Portuguese by the Angolan writer Landa wo; poems from Australia, Europe, Ireland, North America, and a variety of other places as well as virtually every corner of New Zealand. I hope I’ve provided enough surprises to keep everyone guessing!

6. What are your favourite reading conditions?

I’m sorry to say that I can only read comfortably whilst lying on my bed like a Roman emperor, with a book or bundle of papers balanced on my stomach. I’d like to be able to say that I can also, at a pinch, read in an armchair, or a café, or at my desk, but it would be a lie. I’ve been thinking of experimenting with lying and reading in a hammock over summer, but I’m a bit doubtful about the strength of the branches in our backyard which would have to hold it up.

7. What’s on your bedside table?

A travel book by Lawrence Durrell; an old children’s book by Arthur Ransome; a collection of SF short stories by Arthur C. Clarke; a collection of stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Snow Image); a collection of fascinating tales from archaeology called The World’s Last Mysteries; and an MA thesis which I’m reading for examination. Until very recently there were a couple of dozen slim volumes of verse which I was reading for the reviews section at the back of Poetry NZ, but I’m giving myself a bit of a holiday from poetry at the moment. I like to jump from book to book, depending what mood I’m in: some I read in the evening, some in the morning before getting up.

Jack Ross is a poet, fiction writer and editor. He has published books of poetry and short fiction and has edited numerous collections of writing and a variety of journals. Ross has worked as a teacher of New Zealand literature and creative writing, and he is co-editor of a series of books dedicated to capturing New Zealand poets in performance. You can find out more about Jack Ross in his Book Council Writers file.

Auckland launch of Poetry NZ: Poetry NZ Yearbook will launch as part of Massey University’s Writers Read series, and you are invited to attend the celebration.

The launch event will incude Lisa Samuels, the featured poet in this issue, Jack Ross, the new Managing Editor of Poetry NZ, and a number of the other poets included. The magazine will be launched by A/Prof Grant Duncan, of Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The line-up of invited readers will include the following:

Iain Britton
Scott Hamilton
Michele Leggott
Elizabeth Morton
Alistair Paterson
Richard von Sturmer
Kirsten Warner

Event details: Friday, October 31st, 6.00-8.00 PM, Drama Lab, Sir Neil Waters Building, Albany Campus, Massey University. All welcome! Full details here.

Wellington launch of Poetry NZ: Monday, December 1st, 6.00-7.30 PM, Meow Café, 9 Edward Street, Te Aro, Wellington. All welcome!

Tuesday 21 October 2014

‘Machinery for imagining’ in Poetry NZ [17/10/14]

Dr Jack Ross
Photograph: Sonia Yoshioka-Braid (9 Oct 2014)

The following press-release, by Jennifer Little, appeared on Massey News on 17th October 2014.

An adolescent's poem on bullying, and experimental works by an American poetics professor echo the diverse voices in the first edition of the country’s longest-running poetry journal to be published by Massey University.

The 49th issue since the journal originated in 1951, its new incarnation under managing editor Dr Jack Ross will be launched at the Albany campus on October 31.

The “bumper” selection of 117 poems by 93 poets (including 11 by feature poet Lisa Samuels) was siphoned from well over a thousand submissions sent in via post and email. Two essays, a review and brief notices of 25 new poetry books and magazines are also included.

Ross – a poet, editor and critic who teaches fiction, poetry, and travel writing in the School of English and Media Studies – replaces distinguished poet, anthologist, fiction-writer, critic and retiring editor Alistair Paterson, who held the role of Poetry New Zealand’s editor for 21 years.

He suspects his choice of “extravagantly experimental” Lisa Samuels as the featured poet could be controversial. That the University of Auckland-based writer’s work is considered “difficult”, even by some connoisseurs of poetry, should not be an impediment to publication, he says. “As if being easy were some kind of duty for writers, to be ignored at their peril!” he comments in his introduction.

He says Samuels’ poetry sparks questions about how, not just what, poetry communicates.

In an interview in the book, Samuels describes her approach to writing poetry as capturing what she calls “the dispersed inexplicable” – or the fragmented, disordered observations and thoughts that flit through our minds when not focussed on a specific task.

“I want to represent the dispersed inexplicable, since that for me is the most real,” she says.

She also “loves sound”, and much of her meaning can be understood through hearing her poetry, which she says is “like machinery for imagining”.

The choice of a poem by an 11-year-old girl, titled "Life is Unfair", indicates his open-minded approach as editor.

Although it is “without artifice”, he hopes the publication of the poem about being bullied and misunderstood might persuade its author that “the world is not an entirely malign place, and that the best way to react to injustice is to put it on record”.

He didn't include it because it was “good for an 11-year-old” or a “good start” but because “I thought it was a good poem. End of story. All the other poems in this journal are here for the same reason”.

The new-format journal includes new work by well-known poets, such as Michele Leggott, Emma Neale, Anna Jackson and Tracey Slaughter.

With a shift to producing one substantial edition, as opposed to two slimmer volumes a year, Poetry New Zealand is an ideal platform for diverse voices and styles, says Ross.

While most of the contributions are by New Zealand writers and written in English, there are several translated poems, including in Chinese, French and Portuguese. Work by poets from the United States, Australia, Ireland, England, Scotland, Russia and Singapore highlight the journal’s status as an international publication.

A re-designed cover has replaced the traditional feature poet’s portrait. For his first edition, Ross has chosen a photographed image called "Stream of Thoughts", by a young Auckland artist, Renee Bevan.

“It represents a year's worth of her diaries reduced to ashes and poured over her head,” says Ross. “That’s the kind of ‘blaze of glory’ I think appropriately characterises a successful poem”.

With its mission to present the work of “talented newcomers and developing writers as well as that of established leaders in the field”, Ross says he is above all seeking “a freshness of outlook.”

“There has to be something about each poem that makes me ask the question; ‘Is this a poem?’”

An element of surprise is essential too. Revealingly, a poem by Christchurch-based Chinese poet Wei Sun contains his favourite line in the book, from the poem titled "OCD and Conversations with Cat': “Holy shit! A talking cat!”

In other words, expect to be surprised.

Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 1 [PNZ issue #49] is available from the Poetry NZ website at, as well as from bookshops such as Unity Books in Auckland and Wellington.

Poetry NZ cover

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Upcoming Events: Worldwide Reading for Edward Snowden [8/9/14]

Dunedin poet David Howard writes in to say:
Dear Jack,

I don't presume to know what other New Zealanders think - I leave that to the Prime Minister - but you might be interested in this initiative on behalf of Edward Snowden. Currently the only New Zealand reading is at Otago University, where I have been fortunate to receive support from the National Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies and Otago Continuing Education. But there must be people elsewhere who would like to organise a reading. If you know of any then please forward this to them:

From: "worldwidereading"
Date: 19 July 2014 4:39:11 AM NZST
To: "worldwidereading"
Subject: Worldwide Reading for Edward Snowden on September 8th 2014

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

we are calling on all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about freedom and civil rights to participate in a worldwide reading of texts about surveillance in support of Edward Snowden, on 8th September 2014. The appeal is available in several languages so it can be supported worldwide:

Attached to this email you will find the poster for the worldwide reading demanding liberty and recognition for Edward Snowden. If you like you can print it out and use it for your reading. We are pleased to announce that over 200 international authors have confirmed their support and participation.

The texts to be read are based on interviews and statements from Edward Snowden. Here are some of them:

We would be more than pleased if you could spread the word through your city. Take responsibility and make a statement. The support of local radio stations would also be very much appreciated. All texts for the reading will be available from July 30th on our website Please contact the ilb if you would like to participate. The email address is:

Warmest wishes, Team ilb

internationales literaturfestival berlin, Chausseestraße 5, D - 10115 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 27 87 86 - 65 Fax: +49 (0)30 27 87 86 85
E-Mail: //
The international literature festival berlin is an event organized by the Peter-Weiss-Stiftung für Kunst und Politik e.V. It is supported by the Capital Cultural Fund in Berlin. The international literature festival berlin is a guest of the Berliner Festspiele.

David Howard (2012)

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Advice on Submitting to Poetry NZ

The most rewarding part of any editor's job is finding exciting new pieces of work in a stack of submissions - and still having enough room in the issue to accept them for publication! The most painful part, without exception, is writing rejection letters.

A number of you, having recently received such letters from me, have asked for further advice on submitting to the magazine.

Rather than reply to each of these messages separately, it seemed more sensible to me to try to concentrate any generalised advice I have to give in one place. It divides up fairly easily under three headings:

I've followed the policies of the previous managing editor, Alistair Paterson, by retaining the comment "We do not wish to receive more than five poems in any one submission" on the Poetry NZ website.

In particular, it's generally an error to send only one poem. This is insufficient to give a clear sense of you as a writer. Including a few more will enable you to display a range of different styles and subjects.

Repeated submissions for the same issue can also be extremely hard to keep track of, so I'd encourage you to think carefully before you press the "send" button on your email programme. A series of messages, each with one or two poems attached, is the worst way to approach an editor.

Content and style:
The website specifies (again) that "Poetry NZ accepts poetry on any theme, and in any style." This remains valid.

However, poetry is by its nature - I would contend - a condensed form of utterance (in contrast to prose) and a long poem, particularly one in several parts, therefore has to work that much harder to justify its length.

If there's really only one striking or original idea in your poem, you do have to ask yourself whether it couldn't be edited back to be shorter and punchier, and thus have the potential of engaging more readers.

The website also remarks "make sure that your work is typed and thoroughly edited." Please, in particular, spell-check carefully what you've sent. There's a place for deliberate dialect, misspellings or slang in poetry, but it must be introduced carefully and by intention - not by accident.

Policy on revisions:
One of the many reasons why Alistair Paterson is such a difficult act to follow as editor of this magazine is the sheer amount of time and care he was willing to devote to mentoring and advising beginner poets about their work. This, I should state quite clearly, is not an area where I can hope to emulate him.

I work as a university lecturer in Creative Writing and - in that role - do a great deal of reading and critiquing of students' work. That, however, is within a formal pedagogical setting.

I won't rewrite or advise on revisions of the poems submitted to this magazine - except in very rare cases where I might communicate with you to say that some slight change of title or wording would make the difference between acceptance and rejection of the piece. Even then, the choice of whether or not to accept the alteration will be left entirely up to you.

Like anyone else, I have my prejudices. Long wordy poems about nothing in particular do little for me. Short, punchy poems about concrete ideas or events tend to please me better.

Having admitted that, though, I should say that I do bend over backwards to give each new submission - each poem - the benefit of the doubt, trying to let it persuade me of the validity and interest of its author's point-of-view.

There were over 170 email submissions to this issue, most of them containing the suggested five poems - in some cases several more. On top of that, there were another 100 or so print submissions. If you haven't been successful in getting into the issue, there's certainly no stigma in that. Even a bumper-sized issue of Poetry NZ can afford to accept fewer than half of those who've submitted work.

Please do feel free to try again. However, while you can still submit poetry to us at any time, now that we've shifted to an annual, single-volume format, it might make better sense to wait until next year before sending work for the next issue. Submissions have now closed for issue 49, and there's no particular advantage I can see in lining up right now for issue 50 (2015).

Friday 25 July 2014

Submissions closed for Poetry NZ 49

I'm afraid that I have to report that submissions for the next issue of Poetry NZ, no. 49, due out - I hope - in late October, are now closed. I'll continue to add various commissioned reviews and other bits and pieces to the text, but any unsolicited work that's sent to me from now on will have to wait to be considered for next year's issue instead. You're welcome to send me material for PNZ 50 [PNZ Yearbook 2], but it might be better to hold off till early 2015 unless you're in a very great hurry.

That is, I'm afraid, one of the problems with the new yearbook format. I had originally planned to make the end of June this year my deadline, but fascinating submissions have continued to come in, so I can't say that I regret stretching that a bit.

Some of you have also been feeling a bit uneasy about the lack of a reply to the poems you've sent. I do apologise for that. I inherited quite a lot of material from the previous editorial team, and have continued to receive a steady stream of submissions ever since. I do promise in future to keep more closely to the guideline of a reply within three months of receipt, though. That's one of the new systems I'd like to get in place for future issues.

Rest assured that I am working through them all, and that all of you will receive a reply in the very near future.

The advantage of the new format, though, is that I'll be able to put in far more poems, and far more extras generally. I'm looking forward to showing you all the excellent material that's been collected so far!

Friday 4 July 2014

Upcoming Events: Poetry on Film [7-9/14]

Debbie Fish of the New Zealand International Film Festival writes in to say:
Good afternoon Jack,

The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) will be screening around the country during July, August and September. We have just launched our Auckland & Wellington programmes and we have a few films about poetry and poets that we thought Poetry NZ may be interested in. A flyer with details about these films is attached here.

Exact details of session dates and venues can be found online for Auckland at and for Wellington at For further information about any of the films, or to discuss reserving group bookings, contact me on 04 802 2576.

We would love for you to share this information with your networks. To keep up to date with NZIFF news and announcements, visit our website at

Kind regards,


The two films in question are "Reaching for the Moon," about the love story between the great American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo, and "First Cousin Once Removed," about poet and translator Edwin Honig. Check them out. I will ...

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Upcoming Events: Ascending from War [24/7/14]

Alisa Cassidy of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra writes in to say:
Hi Jack,

I am the Marketing Assistant at the APO and we have a concert that fuses poetry and music in a performance that commemorates 100 years since the start of WWI, with the Newstalk ZB Remembering WWI concert, Ascending from War. Highlight of this concert is the much-loved The Lark Ascending by Vaughn Williams, which features APO concertmaster Andrew Beer in his first solo performance with the orchestra.

Throughout this concert Veteran actor George Henare and two secondary school students (selected via an audition process and receiving some mentorship and coaching from Mr Henare) will read poems by Jessie Pope, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves. Acclaimed NZ slam poet Dietrich Soakai will read his new poem "To the Soldiers," together with George Henare. These poems will be presented throughout the evening, between the musical performances.

You can even stay after the concert for a special free poetry recital in a more intimate setting.

24 July
Auckland Town Hall
Book at

I have attached an e-flyer and we would be grateful if you could please let your members know that this amazing event is coming up next month?

Let me know what you think,

Kind regards,


PS. We have some amazing fliers that can be displayed if you wish? Just let me know if you have space.

Sounds like a must-see, to me.

Sunday 8 June 2014

Radio NZ: Standing Room Only [8/6/14]

Originally aired on Standing Room Only, Sunday 8 June 2014

The Poetry New Zealand journal has had to adapt to survive more than most in its fifty year history. And with the appointment of Massey University lecturer and writer Jack Ross as its new managing editor, more changes are planned. But Jack tells Justin Gregory that his changes should feel more like renewal rather than reinvention.

Duration:  9′ 41″ 

Thursday 5 June 2014

Hard-hitting or controversial work welcome in Poetry NZ [5/6/14]

This is the text of a piece by A/Prof Elspeth Tilley, published in the Expressive Arts blog on 5th June 2014:

Jack Ross, new editor of Poetry NZ, will be featured on Radio NZ National this Sunday. Jack is being interviewed by Justin Gregory about his plans for Poetry NZ on “Standing Room Only”, this Sunday (8/6). The programme starts at 12:40 pm. Jack said he will be talking with Justin about his plans to keep the journal at the cutting edge and encourage ground-breaking, even controversial, work. “As the new managing editor of Poetry NZ, I’d like to keep up a sense of excitement in the magazine. My predecessor, Alistair Paterson, was careful to maintain a youth-focus — both with the poets he featured and the work he included. I’d like to be as open as he was to new styles and new poetic approaches. Nor do I have any problem at all with including hard-hitting or controversial work. “Louis Johnson, who founded the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook in the 1950s, refused to withdraw some poems which the funding agencies objected to in the early sixties, and instead paid for the last volume of his yearbook himself! It’s that kind of courage I’d like to emulate. I don’t want there to be anything predictable about what people can expect when they open a copy of Poetry NZ. As the poet Alan Brunton once put it: “Keep the surprise alive!’ “The School of English and Media Studies at Massey University has been generous with a publishing subvention, and I hope that in future this journal can fold into our programme in numerous ways: perhaps principally by providing some of our graduate students with an internship in the world of practical magazine publishing.” Jack himself has published four poetry collections: City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal’s Book (2002), To Terezín (2007) and Celanie (2012).

The interview can be found at:

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Massey editor for new-look Poetry NZ [28/5/14]

Jack Ross
Dr Jack Ross

The following press-release, by Jennifer Little, first appeared on Massey News on 28th May 2014. it also appeared in the NZ Book Council's online newsletter Booknotes Unbound on 29th May.

Watching an Al Jazeera television item about a young Arab poet spraypainting words of protest on a wall somewhere on the West Bank struck a chord with Massey University English senior lecturer Dr Jack Ross.

In his new role as managing editor of the country’s longest-running poetry journal, Poetry New Zealand, he hopes to infuse something of the spirit and energy of that far-flung poet in future issues of his new literary baby.

In the spirit of his predecessors at the helm of the periodical, he intends to keep it youth-oriented, politically engaged, experimental, and culturally diverse – all necessary attributes for an international journal of poetry and poetics.

Ross – a poet, editor and critic who teaches fiction, poetry, and travel writing in the School of English and Media Studies at the Albany campus – replaces distinguished poet, anthologist, fiction-writer, critic and retiring editor Alistair Paterson, who held the role for 21 years.

From this year, Poetry New Zealand will be edited and published by Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. An agreement was signed by its head of the School of English and Media Studies, Associate Professor Joe Grixti, Poetry New Zealand’s former managing editor Paterson, and production manager John Denny, for the future housing of the magazine by the university.

The journal originated in 1951 when poet Louis Johnson began publishing his annual New Zealand Poetry Yearbook. Johnson’s series stopped in 1964, but a bi-annual version re-christened as Poetry New Zealand was revived by Frank McKay in the 1970s and early 80s with a total of six issues, each with a different guest editor. It began appearing twice yearly under Oz Kraus at the end of the 1980s, initially with a series of guest editors and then with Paterson at the helm.

Currently working on his first issue, the 49th in the series, which is due out in October this year, Ross says the journal will continue to feature work primarily by established local and some overseas poets, as well as commentary and reviews. Pivotal to attracting and fostering a new generation of poets is his wish to showcase emerging – and inevitably challenging – poetic trends, voices and styles.

“There will still be a featured poet in each issue – but we’ll have to wait and see who’s been chosen to inaugurate the new yearbook version. It may be surprising to some!” he says. “Poetry New Zealand is for readers and poets who crave stimulation and real challenges from encountering experimental work that’s not always immediately accessible,” he adds.

He’s keen on the idea of including some foreign language poetry in translation by overseas-based or migrant writers living here.

Cosmetic and technological changes are afoot too. The feature poet’s portrait as the cover will be replaced with fresh new artwork. Contributers can also submit their work electronically for the first time. And instead of two issues per year there’ll be an annual edition with roughly twice the number of pages.

The changes will not only open up new directions for readers and writers, but an opportunity for graduate students studying creative writing and communication at Massey’s three campuses in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North to become involved in editing, design and layout through internships.

“It [Poetry New Zealand] will help complement the link between teaching and doing your own work. It’s good for students to see that while you are at university, even in arts and literature you can be learning in a pragmatic way. These are real world skills.”

Ross, who was featured in Poetry New Zealand’s Issue 22 in 2001 and guest-edited Issue 38 in 2009, has a wealth of experience in writing, editing and teaching poetry. He shares his poetic interests via a highly stimulating literary blog, The Imaginary Museum.

No stranger to experimenting with genre, as in City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal’s Book (2002), and To Terezin (2007), as well as in foreign languages with Celanie, (which he translated from German – via French – into English), he also co-edited the trilogy of audio and text anthologies Classic, Contemporary and New NZ Poets in Performance (AUP, 2006-8).

While he acknowledges editing Poetry New Zealand is a time-consuming labour of love fitted around a busy teaching and PhD supervision schedule, he will be supported by an advisory board including Massey academics, poets and editors Dr Thom Conroy, Dr Ingrid Horrocks and Associate Professor Bryan Walpert; along with poet and academic Dr Jen Crawford; publisher and printer John Denny; poet and 2013 Burns Fellow David Howard; poet and editor Alistair Paterson ONZM; and poet and academic Dr Tracey Slaughter.

Ross says his ultimate aim is to make Poetry New Zealand as relevant and rivetting to a new generation of readers and writers as the most powerful films, novels and digital content. Like the graffitied words of that young Arab poet.

Dr Ross on an earlier Poetry NZ cover