Friday, December 02, 2011


Jacket, the Australian online journal edited by John Tranter and (latterly) Pam Brown, is generally regarded as one of the most influential poetry magazines of the past two decades (you can access its entire forty-issue back catalogue, 1997-2010, from either the link above or the one below).

It's now succeeded by Jacket2, a website including Articles, Features, Reviews, Interviews, Commentaries, Reissues & Podcasts, all centred on contemporary poetry and poetics. The site is based in the US, but retains strong links with the Antipodes.

As proof of that, when I was at the Poetry & the Contemporary symposium in Melbourne in July, Pam Brown approached me about editing a New Zealand poetry feature for the site to parallel the one that she was doing on Australian poetry.

Both features are now up online. You can check out Pam's (which is pretty comprehensive: it's planned to include - eventually - 51 contemporary Australian poets) here, and my more modest selection of a dozen Kiwi poets here.

Once before I went through an exercise of this kind -- in 2004, seven years ago, when I co-edited 12 Taonga from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive with Jan Kemp for the nzepc, at the end of our work on that 40-odd-CD-long, 171-poet-strong compilation of recordings and back-up materials.

Interestingly enough, there are two overlaps with the Jacket2 feature: Apirana Taylor and Richard von Sturmer. Besides that, though, I've tried to keep to the same principle of unearthing overlooked treasures in this new international showcase. Once again, it came down to 12 poets (though a number of those I asked were unable to participate for one reason or another -- I'd originally planned on including 15 or so: still well short of Pam's 50 -- we are only a quarter of the size, though: in population, at any rate ...)

The number rises to a neat Baker's dozen when you add in the strong, strikingly colourful images of local artist Emma Smith, which I attached to each page to give a kind of consistency of tone to these otherwise wildly various materials.

[Emma Smith:
"Even though you have lost your horse, don't pursue it"
[oil on canvas] (2011)]

So what's in the feature? It's entitled "Look and look again: 12 New Zealand poets," and the twelve poets in question are (in alphabetical order):

    [Bio: John Adams]

  1. John Adams:

    • Fishing, off Kawau
    • Did you hear the snicker/ of that piwakawaka?/ In which fold/ is the artist squeezed?
    • Out the window there was a round goldfish pond with netting to keep the birds out and an aviary to keep their birds in

  2. Raewyn Alexander:

    • 'aged famous rockers tour the world'
    • girls soft as new grass
    • India - early 20th Century and other Tales

  3. [Bio: Jen Crawford]

  4. Jen Crawford:

    • promontories
    • The Black Valley

  5. Scott Hamilton:

    • Elegy for a survivor of the war on Afghanistan
    • Walking to the Dendroglyphs on Christmas Eve (a dream)

  6. Leicester Kyle:

    • Happy Valley: A Lament for a landscape about to be mined (3 pp.) [31/10/03]
    • I Like It When The Sun Doesn’t Shine [12/9/03]

  7. Aleksandra Lane:

    • Card games
    • Three cheers for liberation
    • Easter

  8. Thérèse Lloyd:

    • The Nail I
    • We’re All Here Buried
    • Takaka

  9. Richard Reeve:

    • Uptake
    • Meeting in a Field
    • Croak

  10. Michael Steven:

    • Dunedin Fives
      o The Octagon
      o Raven Books
      o Spring Broadcast
      o The Excelsior Cafe
      o Meridian
      o Le Punk
      o Dented Moon
    • Elegy

  11. Apirana Taylor:

    • fighting with words
    • dame Margot on the line
    • rat a tat tat

  12. Richard Taylor:

    • In the Silence Museum
      o again)
      o again) (2)
      o again) (3a)
      o again) (4)

  13. Richard Von Sturmer:

    • Book of Equanimity Verses
      o 58.
      o 59.
      o 60.
      o 61,
      o 62.
      o 63.

  14. [Bio: Jack Ross]

  15. Jack Ross:

    • Look and look again: Twelve New Zealand poets

  16. [Bio: Emma Smith]

  17. Emma Smith

So obviously I think that each of these poets has something interesting to say to us right now. Check them out and see if you agree. It's an idiosyncratic selection, no doubt, but not one that I've put together without thinking about it quite a lot: a kind of personal anti-canon, perhaps - but one that's intended to intrigue you rather than provoke your wrath.

The "Jackette" pun was Jen Crawford's, in the first place, but it does seem rather appropriate to what I've tried to do here, so I've gratefully adopted it ... Enjoy.

Emma Smith:
[mixed media on paper]

1 comment:

Richard said...

Thanks for this Jack (everything) and the post on the launch. Good to see Leicester's poems up there. He would have been (is?) pleased.

I'm still reading the poems on there.

These days I seem to read less poetry and more prose, criticism, "real stories" and art books.

But I have enjoyed what I have read so far in Bronwyn's book. Michelle Leggott is right, some of the ones I have read do bear re-reading.