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

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Changes at Poetry NZ [19/1/14]

Alistair Paterson, ed.: Poetry NZ 25 (September 2002)

This is the text of a post I put up on my blog The Imaginary Museum on the 19th of January this year:

I'm happy to announce that, at a meeting at Massey University's Albany Campus on 26th November 2013, an agreement was reached between the Head of the School of English and Media Studies, A/Prof Joe Grixti, Poetry NZ's managing editor Alistair Paterson, and production manager John Denny, for the future housing of the magazine by the university.

The new managing editor, in succession to Alistair, will be yours truly. I was featured in issue 22 in 2001, and I guest-edited issue 38 in 2009, which (I hope) qualifies me for such a task - though I don't pretend to claim that I could ever adequately fill Alistair's shoes: he's certainly a hard act to follow!

But what precisely is Poetry NZ? New Zealand's most celebrated (as well as longest lived) poetry journal has been appearing twice a year since the end of the 80s, when it was started by Oz Kraus, initially with a series of guest editors, but then - from issue 8 onwards - under the editorship of distinguished poet, anthologist, fiction-writer and critic Alistair Paterson.

In another, truer sense, though, one could argue that the magazine actually started in 1951, when Louis Johnson began publishing his annual New Zealand Poetry Yearbook. That would make it the country's second-oldest surviving literary journal, after Landfall, founded by Charles Brasch in 1947. Johnson's series stopped in 1964, but a bi-annual version of the (re-christened) Poetry New Zealand was revived by Frank McKay in the 1970s and 80s and ran to six issues, each helmed by a different guest editor.

Louis Johnson (1924-1988)

Poetry NZ, in its present form, has now reached issue 47, with a 48th (to be guest-edited by Nicholas Reid) promised for next month. Longtime publisher John Denny of Puriri Press no longer feels able to undertake the myriad duties associated with the production and distribution of the magazine, however, so it seemed like a good moment to re-examine Poetry NZ's future as one of New Zealand's very few journals dedicated entirely to poetry and poetics.

Alphabet Book (Puriri Press)

I will, fortunately, be assisted in my task by an advisory board including academic and editor Dr Thom Conroy; poet and academic Dr Jen Crawford; publisher and printer John Denny; poet and academic Dr Ingrid Horrocks; poet and 2013 Burns Fellow David Howard; poet and editor Alistair Paterson ONZM; poet and academic Dr Tracey Slaughter; and poet and academic A/Prof Bryan Walpert.

From issue 49 onwards, our intention is to revert to Louis Johnson's original concept of an annual poetry yearbook, approximately twice the size of the present 112-page issues, but retaining the magazine's essential characteristics, such as the featured poet, the reviews section, at least one substantial essay per issue, and - of course - a substantial selection from the poetry submitted to us by local and international authors.

I think that all three of us, Alistair, John and myself, feel that it would be a tragedy for New Zealand poetry if this journal were to cease to appear. Where else can such a substantial cross-section of our poets rub shoulders with writers from all over the world? Where else can we debate the important question of what (if anything) defines a national poetry (or poetics)?

Hopefully having a new institutional home will enable Poetry NZ to continue its already sixty-year-old engagement with such questions in the confidence that it will never become an in-house university publication. Like Landfall, so ably supported by the University of Otago, Poetry NZ will retain its proud independence, but also benefit from the resources of one of New Zealand's largest tertiary institutions (this year celebrating its 21st birthday here on our Auckland campus) ...

Existing subscribers will be sent a copy of the enlarged issue no. 49 at no additional cost. Thereafter, though, new subscription arrangements will have to be made. Full details will be published in issue 48, and thereafter made public on the Poetry NZ website.

The most obvious change for the moment will be the fact that we'll now be open to electronic submissions (with "poetry nz" in the subject line) via email text and MSWord file attachments - in fact, that will become our preferred way to receive work. More details on that, too, later.

Alistair Paterson, ed.: Poetry NZ 47 (September 2013)

Monday 2 June 2014


Poetry NZ 38 (2009)

This blog is intended as a a gathering place for information about Poetry NZ: a place to make announcements, to ask questions, and generally to promote the journal and its community of subscribers, contributors and readers. I'll begin by quoting the "about" section in the magazine's dedicated website, run by Warren Olds of Studio Ahoy, which is where you should continue to go to renew subscriptions, find out about our submissions policy, and see back-issues.

Poetry New Zealand, also known as PNZ or Poetry NZ, began in 1951 with the publication of Louis Johnson's New Zealand Poetry Yearbook. It is therefore this country's oldest and most distinguished poetry magazine, but is still interested in new and younger writers trying to have their work recognized. It also contains reviews and articles concerning poetry in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Since Johnson ceased his editorship in the 1960s, Poetry New Zealand has been edited by some of New Zealand's most distinguished poets and academics, including Frank McKay (James K. Baxter's biographer), Elizabeth Caffin (formerly Managing Editor of Auckland University Press), Riemke Ensing, Grant Duncan, Elizabeth Smithers, Brian Turner and Harry Ricketts.

The magazine was edited from 1993 to 2014 by Alistair Paterson – a well-known New Zealand poet, novelist, anthologist, editor and literary critic – with help from guest editors including Owen Bullock, Siobhan Harvey and Nicholas Reid. The present managing editor is Jack Ross, of Massey University's School of English and Media Studies.

The magazine's policy is to support poetry and poets both in New Zealand and overseas. Each annual issue features a substantial selection from a developing or established poet in order to draw attention to that poet's work. The rest of the issue is comprised of a selection of poetry from New Zealand and abroad, as well as essays, reviews and general criticism.

While New Zealand poets receive the most attention, PNZ is always looking for high quality work from other countries. Overseas poets printed in PNZ have included: Robert Creeley, Charles Bukowski, Charles Bernstein, Eugene Dubnov, Virgil Suarez, Tom Clark, Libby Hart, Les Murray, August Kleinzahler, Wanda Coleman, Blair Ewing and many others.

If you're interested in submitting to PNZ, please see our Submit page. Any other enquiries should be directed to the webmaster.

Our personnel are as follows:

Managing Editor: Jack Ross

Administrator: Bronwyn Lloyd

Advisory Board: Thom Conroy, Jen Crawford, John Denny, Ingrid Horrocks, David Howard, Alistair Paterson, Tracey Slaughter, Bryan Walpert

Website: Warren Olds, Studio Ahoy.

Please follow us on facebook here.

James Ko: "Jack"

Sunday 1 June 2014


This site exists to provide easy access to information and online links about Poetry New Zealand, an international journal of poetry and poetics.

For details about the history of the magazine, how to submit work or to subscribe, you should go to our official website Poetry NZ, which also includes a link to our paypal account.

This, by contrast, is intended as a forum for announcements, arguments, debates and other poetry-related matters.

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