Sunday, February 14, 2016

Indexing Poetry NZ

Joseph Severn: Shelley at the Baths of Caracalla (1845)

“Now my summer task is ended,” wrote Shelley, as he reclined in a rowboat, having just completed his massive 12-canto epic Laon and Cyntha (1817).

My summer’s task has been somewhat less creative - though I have to confess that at times it seemed every bit as arduous - compiling a comprehensive online index for the journal variously known as New Zealand Poetry Yearbook (1951-1964), Poetry New Zealand (1971-84), Poetry NZ (1990-2014), and – now – Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (2014-?).

Over the past 65 years, 67 issues of this magazine have been issued by publishers including A. H. & A. W. Reed, Pegasus Press, John McIndoe, Nagare Press, Brick Row Publishing, Puriri Press, Massey’s School of English and Cultural Studies, and – now – Massey University Press.

These 67 issues, edited by 16 editors, contain 6784 pages of material: editorials, essays, reviews, and – of course – many, many poems, reviews and essays by 947 authors (but who's counting?).

And what have I learned from this extremely laborious exercise? Well, I suppose it’s given me a renewed appreciation for the sheer coverage achieved by this journal in its two-thirds of a century of existence. Who, among New Zealand’s canonical poets and writers, isn’t there? Adcock, Baxter, Curnow, Doyle, Glover, Hyde, Manhire - you name them, chances are they're there (as you can readily verify by visiting the Author index page).

And then there are the overseas contributors: Charles Bernstein, Charles Bukowsky, Robert Creeley, August Kleinzahler, Les Murray - again, the list goes on.

How should you use the index? Well, the quick answer is to go here, where I've given some brief instructions on the subject.

If you're curious, though, I'll just remarks that it is – in conception, at least – as simple as I can make it. There’s a separate page for each issue, with images of the Front and Back Covers, Title-page and Copyright details, and the Table of Contents: together with any details I can find about such matters as the Contributors and the Subscription Details - on average, ten separate images per issue.

If you want to know about a particular issue, you can either link to it from the right sidebar of the site, or – alternatively – from the Contents or Site-Map pages.

If, however, you want to know what a particular author has published in Poetry New Zealand over the years, you can go to the Author Index page, which provides a numbered list, alphabeticised by surname, together with chronological details of each writer's contributions. You can imagine how much fun it was putting that together!

No doubt there are still many typos and other errors left, though I've tried to proof-read it as carefully as I went along. 1,000-odd A4 pages of material provides scope for a good many mistakes, however. I’d appreciate it very much if you would alert me to any lacunae you detect, and promise to correct them as soon as I can. You could start by checking the details of your own contributions to the magazine over the years, perhaps.

For the rest, I’m not really proposing that anyone should try to read this monstrous compilation for pleasure, but hopefully future researchers into modern New Zealand poetry may find it of some use. It’ll certainly be a great help to me as the present editor of the magazine.


James Ko: "Jack" (c.1996)


Richard said...

Enormous work! Another! You had me stuffed Jack, the huge Shelley poem I had not heard of, but good old Wiki reveals it is 'The Revolt of Islam' which is not as such about Islam but (as I read) a kind of philosophical poem. It is one of those vast works that remain largely unread in favour probably of his wonderful 'Ode to The West Wind'.

My deep terror Jack, is that you have actually read it all....well, I have read 'Promethues Unbound' and a few other things...also 'Prometheus Bound' by (Greek playwright - name, forget, (pass)).

Well more work by you Jack. Your entry on me looks correct. I recall I got a few good poems in around 1998 to 2000 or so and some more recently in the longer tome.

It went, or has gone on for a long time for sure. I had a lot of support from Alistair Patterson who I thank now, he did a great job working on PNZ.

Dr Jack Ross said...

Dear Richard,

Thanks for checking your own entry in the index: much appreciated.

Yes, you're right about The Revolt of Islam -- Laon and Cyntha was the title under which it first appeared, though. I have to confess that I never got to the end.

I've read a good deal in Shelley from time to time, but there are still great tracts I may never get to.

best, jack

Sacha Jones said...

Great job, Jack.

So many poets! The A's alone are a lifetime's reading.

Daunting, on the one hand, inspiring on the other.

Many thanks,