Welcome to Turbine | Kapohau 23
Reading submissions can feel like sliding a searching hand into a fairground lucky dip; the barrel overflowing with parcels disguised and made drab with brown paper. Each holds the promise of a gift that will reach out and clasp your heart. Such was the Turbine | Kapohau submission pile. And as co-editors we could open them all. We were gluttonous, tearing off the wrapping paper, searching for words that sparkled on the page, prodded at the gut, or tweaked the funny bone. We read and waited for those pieces that refused to stay put, and followed us, whispering in our ears while we drank our coffee, or loaded the dishwasher.
Our team of three began this task at the end of the tidal surge of the MA hand-in. We were word-worn and fuzzy, sick of the sight of our own work, and ready to relish that of others. We found it was a distinct and profound pleasure to read and select the pieces which make up the 2023 issue of Turbine | Kapohau. Contained here are works which, amongst a throng of high quality writing, reached up and waved out, refusing to be ignored.
Among our final selections, shimmers the work of many of our IIML classmates, as well as from emerging and established writers across Aotearoa, and a few from further afield. Notably in these pages, we are proud to feature work from the 2023 Adam Foundation Prize winner Joseph Trinidad, and poems from 2023 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry winner, Ella Borrie.
Where does good writing come from? Sometimes it seems like an elemental magic, a conjuring trick. Out of thin air.
And yet, the writers featured in this issue stay close to a sense of place and landscape. A sort of personal topography is revealed—a cartography act that involves the various tricks of memory, the elisions of the heart. These pieces hold landmarks particular to each writer: a certain tree, a suburb, an island; an object that might be ordinary to another.
Perhaps good writing, then, is not only creation, but excavation.
In Māori pūrākau (oral histories and myths), names and stories are interwoven with landscape features, so that the stories are written in the peaks and hollows of the land; pūrākau are a map, and the land records moments that must be remembered. So too with these stories: Jackson McCarthy stands by a lake that is a place of great loss; Freya Turnbull shows us the sharp devastation of the Christchurch Earthquake through the eyes of a possum; powerful rivers swirl through the words of Elliot McKenzie, Hannah Patterson and Maddie Fenn.
On Rakiura, Jane Bloomfield finds her experience of reading a Penguin classic shaped by the island’s personality; on Rangitoto, Lou Annabell finds the strata of midden overlaid and braided with layers of family history.
There is a rice paddy somewhere in the Philippines that will forever be the place a bored eleven year old had his version of The Talk; somewhere a pōhutukawa withered by a placenta. We are given multiple different versions of Newtown, in all its crumbly glory. We are given many shades of a blue sky.
In her interview with Gráinne Patterson, 2023 Te Herenga Waka University – Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence, Noelle McCarthy, speaks of her desire when young to escape Ireland and travel to England, and how she believes that feeling partially shaped her response to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, around which her new memoir in progress is centred.
Sasha Abbasova’s poignant untitled poem reflects on a homeland left reluctantly behind as the city is ravaged by war.
These landscapes can be both grounded and surreal. Sarah Scott takes us inside a painted world, layer by brush-stroked layer. Ruben Mita invites us into a series of imaginary cafés, replete with curious proprietors. Tara Leckie takes us down into the physical space that holds up the ethereal internet.
Yes, these are strange maps we are given—yet perhaps they show the world as it really is to live in, full of memory and myth.
We would like to extend our gratitude to everyone who submitted their work this year – it was a joy and an honour to read the pieces you entrusted to us. Thank you for sharing the maps to your worlds.
Kā mihi nui to the people who have supported us through this year and through the publication of this journal. Our convenors: Chris Price, Kate Duignan, and Tina Makareti; all the supervisors who supported us throughout the year; the administrative team: Katie Hardwick-Smith and Clare Moleta, without whom we would surely sink into a chaotic void; Peter Molteno for guiding writers through the audio recordings; Robert Cross for photography; and Rachel O’Neill for making this web publication so streamlined and intuitive.
Finally, thank you for coming here and reading. Take these pieces, these maps to otherwise unknowable worlds; set forth and explore.