Wednesday 12 April 2017

Reviews & Notices of Poetry NZ Yearbook 2017

I thought I'd better start listing all the reviews and notices we've received of this year's Yearbook so far. You can find a more comprehensive list here, but this should provide you with details of some of the ones I haven't yet mentioned on this blog:

  1. Nicola Legat, Massey University Press website:

    Terrific new New Zealand poetry

    Continually in print since 1951, when it was established by leading poet Louis Johnson, this annual collection of new poetry, reviews and essays is the ideal way to catch up with the latest poetry from established and emerging New Zealand poets.

    Issue #51 features 128 new poems by writers including featured poet Elizabeth Morton, Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither, as well as essays by Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert, and reviews of 33 new poetry collections.

    CATEGORY: Creative arts
    ISBN: 978-0-9941363-5-0
    ESBN: N/A
    PUBLISHER: Massey University Press
    IMPRINT: Massey University Press
    PUBLISHED: 13/03/2017
    PAGE EXTENT: 352
    FORMAT: Soft cover

  2. Sarah Thornton, Massey University Press press release (15/2/17):

    Sarah Thornton, Massey University Press press release (15/2/17)


    Poetry New Zealand is an institution; the country’s longest-running poetry magazine, edited by many pre-eminent poets and academics, including Alistair Paterson, Harry Ricketts, Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner.

    The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook has been continuously in print since 1951, when it was established by Wellington poet Louis Johnson. This annual collection of new writing, reviews of new poetry and discussion of poetics, has now found a new home with Massey University Press, who are proud to support the work of emerging talent and established voices.

    As Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 editor Dr Jack Ross writes: ‘Shouting from the rooftops really doesn’t work very well in the long-term. All writers depend on getting sound, well-considered reviews from their peers, and I feel that’s at least as important a part of Poetry New Zealand’s remit as providing a showcase for so many poets, young and old (97 — by my count — in this issue alone).’

    Issue #51 of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook features 125 new poems, including work by featured poet Elizabeth Morton, as well as Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Anna Jackson, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither. The collection also features essays by Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert, and reviews of 33 new poetry collections. Readers will be charmed, challenged and delighted.

    With the publication of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 comes the formal announcement of the inaugural Poetry New Zealand competition. In first place is young Wellington poet Emma Shi; eighteen-year-old Auckland poet Devon Webb takes second place; and Hamilton poet Hayden Pyke comes third.

    The book will be launched at the Devonport library on the evening of Tuesday, 14 March, at a free public event (koha on the door) featuring readings by ten poets, including Michele Leggott.

    About the Editor:

    Dr Jack Ross is a senior lecturer in creative writing at Massey University’s Albany campus. He is the author of five books of poems, including City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal’s Book (2002), To Terezin (2007), Celanie (2012) and A Clearer View of the Hinterland (2014), as well as three novels, a novella, and two collections of short fiction. He has edited a number of books and literary magazines, including (from 2014) Poetry New Zealand.

  3. Nicola Legat, 10 Questions with Jack Ross. Massey University Press website (22/2/17):

    1. Now that it’s published, what pleases you most about New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 2017?

    I think the thing I like best about it is the number of younger contributors we’ve managed to include. My wife Bronwyn was leafing through it the other day and suddenly burst out: ‘These kids are putting us all to shame!’ That’s about right, I think. It’s not that I’ve relaxed any of my editorial standards to ease them in over the bar — on the contrary, there seem to be a lot of younger writers out there (most of whom I’d never even heard of before), who are writing hard-hitting, honest, beautiful poems. Long may the trend continue! I think some of it may be due to the fact that we now allow — or, rather, encourage — email submissions. You have to be pretty organised (as well as pretty determined) to keep on sending out those typed submissions, complete with stamped self-addressed envelopes, week after week, month after month, the way we used to do ...

  4. Laine Moger, Poetry New Zealand's longstanding poetry magazine set to launch in Devonport. Stuff: Entertainment (9/3/17):

    Ross also maintains that those who want to get a point of view across, particularly political views, should write a poem.

    "People in power don't understand poetry. So the witty poem may be one of the last weapons we have left to puncture power."

    "The real world says poetry is a waste of their [young people's] time. But it's one of the few things that isn't wasting their time," he says.

  5. Graham Beattie, Poetry New Zealand. Beattie's Book Blog - unofficial homepage of the New Zealand book community (14/3/17):

    Poetry New Zealand is New Zealand’s longest-running poetry magazine, showcasing new writing from this country and overseas. It presents the work of talented newcomers and developing writers as well as that of established leaders in the field.

    Founded by Wellington poet Louis Johnson, who edited it from 1951 to 1964 as the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook, it was revived as a biennial volume by Frank McKay in 1971, a series which lasted until 1984. David Drummond (in collaboration with Oz Kraus’s Brick Row Publishing) began to publish it again biannually in 1990. The journal reached its 48th issue in 2014, the year its present managing editor, Jack Ross of Massey University’s School of English and Media Studies, took it back to its roots by renaming it the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook.

    Poetry New Zealand has been edited by some of New Zealand’s most distinguished poets and academics, including Elizabeth Caffin, Grant Duncan, Riemke Ensing, Bernard Gadd, Leonard Lambert, Harry Ricketts, Elizabeth Smither and Brian Turner. The journal was overseen from 1993 to 2014 by celebrated poet, novelist, anthologist, editor and literary critic Alistair Paterson ONZM, with help from master printer John Denny of Puriri Press, and guest editors Owen Bullock, Siobhan Harvey and Nicholas Reid.

    The magazine’s policy is to support poetry and poets both in New Zealand and overseas. Each issue since 1994 has featured a substantial feature showcasing the work of a developing or established poet. It also includes a selection of poetry from New Zealand and abroad, as well as essays, reviews and critical commentary.

    Massey University Press - $34.99

  6. Jennifer Little, Abundance of young voices in latest Poetry NZ. About Massey: News (16/3/17):

    Young poets are out in force alongside established scribes in the latest Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, the 67th issue since 1951, and published for the first time by Massey University Press. Poet and managing editor Dr Jack Ross says the 352-page volume, launched this week – with 128 poems, as well as essays and reviews of 33 new poetry collections – includes many new, young poets writing “hard-hitting, honest, beautiful poems”.

  7. Paul Little, "Reviews: New Zealand Books". North & South (April 2017): 86.

    This belongs in the section of your bookcase you’ve set aside for quiet little miracles that we can only be grateful are still part of our literary life. The periodical published its 50th edition last year. You probably missed the newspaper features and the special edition of Seven Sharp – or, indeed, any recognition in this magazine. Here’s hoping the editor and contributors were invited to have a nice cup of tea with Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry.

    This year’s garden of poetic delights features the work of 97 poets and almost as many voices, themes and moods in a tightly formatted volume. Depending on how you calculate these things, at least three generations of poets are represented. There is work in te reo Maori and English. Contributors include venerable names such as Ensing, Leggott, Marshall and Smither, who take their place in the alphabetical queue with newcomers and mid-career poets.

  8. Laine Moger, “Devonport Library launches Poetry New Zealand Yearbook with a slam.” North Shore Times (17/3/17):

    A poet laureate, authors, literature fans and publishers, all gathered at the Devonport Library to celebrate the launch of the 51st issue of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (2017).

    A large crowd, a mix of young and old, gathered on the night of March 14 to purchase the book, enjoy some nibbles, and be entertained by live poetry readings.

    Professor Michele Leggott, New Zealand's inaugural poet laureate and Devonport resident, was the guest speaker.

    The audience was treated to live poetry readings, which included political themes, sickness, broken hearts and life guidelines. ...

    The launch also formally announced the Poetry New Zealand competition winners.

    Wellington poet Emma Shi, 20, was announced the overall winner and performed her poem live at the launch alongside Auckland poet and second place winner, Devon Webb, 20.

    Editor Jack Ross described the winner Emma Shi's poetry as awe-inspiring.

    "She appears to be one of the rare people who appears to have been born with a kind of poetic perfect pitch," Ross said.

    The event drew a large crowd from as far down the country as Wellington. ...

    Hamilton poet Hayden Pyke came third, but was not able to attend on the night.

  9. Booksellers New Zealand, "Indie Top 20 for week ending 18th March 2017.” (18/3/17)


    Poetry New Zealand Yearbook:

    Jack Ross
    Massey University Press $34.99

  10. Paula Green, "Room for Kiwi Poetry to Breathe.” Sunday Star-Times (19/3/17): E27.

    Wellington poet Louis Johnson established the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook in 1951. It has just received a well-deserved makeover by Massey University Press. The new design is eye-catching, the writing has room to breathe and the content is eclectic.

    With Victoria and Otago University Presses publishing Sport and Landfall, it is good to see a literary magazine finding a home in Auckland. It is the only magazine that devotes sole attention to poetry and poetics, with an abundant measure of poems, reviews and essays.

    Editor Dr Jack Ross aims to spotlight emerging and established poets and include “sound, well-considered reviews”. There are just under 100 poets in the issue, including Nick Ascroft, Riemke Ensing, Elizabeth Smither, Anna Jackson, Michele Leggott and Kiri Piahana-Wong.

    When I pick up a poetry journal, I am after the surprise of a fresh voice, the taste of new work by a well-loved poet, the revelatory contours of poetry that both behaves and misbehaves when it comes to questionable rule books. The annual delivers such treats. A welcome find for me is the featured poet: Elizabeth Morton. Morton’s debut collection will be out this year with Makaro Press, so this sampler is perfect with its lush detail, lilting lines and surreal edges. ...

    Poetry New Zealand Yearbook, in its revitalised form, and as a hub for poetry conversations, is now an essential destination for poetry fans. Not all the poems held my attention, but the delights are myriad.

  11. Laine Moger, 'Out & About.' North Shore Times (21/3/17):

    "Out & About." North Shore Times (21/3/17)

  12. Lynn Freeman, "The poetic landscape of Aotearoa 2017." Radio NZ: Standing Room Only (Sunday 26 March 2017):

    The country's longest running poetry magazine has just put out issue 51, an impressive tally in anyone's book. Lynn Freeman spoke to Jack Ross who has edited Poetry New Zealand: Yearbook 2017, featuring new and well established writers. Jack has selected 125 new poems from hundreds submitted internationally, and supplemented them with essays and reviews by other writers keen to get people talking more about poetry.

    Duration:  11′ 20″

  13. Siobhan Harvey, "Book reviews: poetry." NZ Herald (Saturday 8 April 2017):

    In its new incarnation, the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook is a poetic treat. Published annually (rather than biannually as it was under previous editor Alistair Paterson), the compendium of contemporary poetry extends to 350 pages of fabulous poems, essays and reviews. This time the featured poet is a rising star of local literature, Elizabeth Morton, winner of the 2013 Emerging Poets Competition, shortlisted for the 2015 Kathleen Grattan Award and about to have her first full collection, Wolf, published. The Yearbook handsomely showcases this startling new voice with 20 fresh poems and a full interview. Reading the poem "Reincarnation", you'll be blown away by Morton's magical wordcraft and imagery. Equally impressive offerings come from familiar poets such as Stu Bagby, Johanna Emeney, Sue Fitchett, Olivia Macassey and Michael Steven, as well as new names such as Iva Vemich. While Janet Charman, Lisa Samuels and Bryan Walpert offer a triptych of perceptive essays. The result is one of the best New Zealand literary journals around.

  14. Anna Forsyth, "Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017, edited by Jack Ross." The Reader: The Booksellers New Zealand Blog (11 April 2017):

    The best way to take the pulse and determine the health of poetry in New Zealand is to crack open the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. It is proof that the art form is very much alive and vibrant in 2017. As the first issue through Massey University Press, the journal covers a lot of ground. Since its inception in the 1950s, the journal continues to showcase poets of longstanding, such as Riemke Ensing, Michelle Leggott, Owen Marshall, Iain Britton and Elizabeth Smither, while introducing readers to younger, emerging poets, such as Devon Webb, Callum Stembridge and Harriet Beth.

    ... In 2017, the journal celebrates and promotes the work of women poets, both through featuring their work and discussing their books in the review section.

    Elizabeth Morton’s suite is accomplished and mesmerising. At times her work sends the reader on a surreal journey, like a Chagall painting. She drifts in and out of dark themes, from the personal (visiting someone in hospital) to the political (the refugee crisis). It is satisfying and intriguing work: ‘I bring you / blackberries, frankincense, / lorazepam. / I make marionettes with my hands / I make you the best alpaca you’ve ever seen.’

    ... This collection offers jumping off points for anyone, no matter your poetic inclination. Not one to be raced through, each reading brings a fresh new image, ‘when you least expect … a dull ache in the memory (When you least expect) … has the / power to flatten me.’ (Lithium).

  15. Mike, "Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook: 2017." McLeod's Booksellers Ltd.: April Newsletter (Rotorua):

    A journalist recently wrote that the very idea of poetry is seen as somewhat unmanly – it's all about feelings … the ultimate purple prose! Wrong. It's not prose at all, and that's the point. Also, what does that say about the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook here, where almost half of the many contributors are male?

    It may also be that poetry mainly sells only to other poets – in which case the inclusion of so many in this edition is probably a good idea.

    Edited by Jack Ross, the selection favours new and emerging writers. This is brave and generous because the reader is left to decide for themselves what is worthwhile.

    Having repeatedly dipped into the contents, I found myself thinking it was all a bit 'top heavy'. I mean, it's all very good but it is rather literary. There are some truly weird and wonderful lines here but the whole thing would have a wider appeal if there were some slam, some Banksy style equivalent of the message.

    Poetry is capable of this but the first thing to get right is to get a wider audience to actually read it.

    This selection is definitely worth owning, everything here has merit. It is a collection worth dipping into when you are looking for inspiration.

  16. Edward Reilly, "Book Review: Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017." Azuria #6 (Autumn 2017): 107-08.

    Azuria #6 (Autumn 2017)

    Edited by Dr. Jack Ross for Poetry New Zealand, this collection presents a diverse mix of established and new writers, from New Zealand and overseas.

    Poetry, essays and reviews all contribute to an interesting reading list. In particular, I enjoyed 'Untitled' by Courtney Speedy, for both its length and her strong voice.

    Likewise, Tony Beyer's 'After Hesiod' struck me as having gone deep into his land's roots, emulating the Greek Poet's appreciation of the essentials of a farmer's life, and reminding me of Heaney in its directness, tonality and wording.

    Then there's Chris Parson's 'A Song of Ian Paisley', which had a visceral effect on me. The woman's plaintive whispering, 'what took you so long Ian Paisley', is an effective comment on the manufactured Troubles in Ulster, for having dragged on too long. Now, there's a resolution in sight, strangely through the Brexit, whereby a reunited Ireland can put aside the horrors of the past and its people can face the future together, without rancour.

    Janet Charman's essay 'A piece of why' introduced me to the life and work of the poet Allen Curnow (1911-2001) whose complexity is attractive, being at once tough-minded and also deeply reflective of the condition of being a New Zealander. It's a pity his work is not better known in this country.

    Overall, this collection serves as a very useful introduction to contemporary poetic practice in a neighbouring country, about which we know so little and yet are ready enough to joke about, albeit in a fraternal way. But that's the rub. Like cousins, we follow our own paths, occasionally meet, exchange news and leave it at that. A pity, because there's more across the Ditch than sheep, hakas and saunas.

  17. Harry Ricketts, "Book review - The New Zealand Poetry Year Book." Radio NZ: Nine to Noon (Wednesday 5 July 2017):

    Harry Ricketts reviews 'The New Zealand Poetry Year Book'. Published by Massey University Press.

    Duration:  6′ 40″

Charles Olsen, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017 (16/3/17)