Welcome to Turbine 2004


Welcome to the fourth issue of Turbine, the annual online journal of the International Institute of Modern Letters. Turbine 04 features a lively mix of new and established writers of fiction, poetry and memoir. While some work in this issue was produced during 2004 workshops at the IIML, and some contributors are graduates from previous years, the work presented here comes from all over New Zealand, and around the world. Earle McCartney and Megan Johnson, Schaeffer Fellows who are teaching the Iowa Workshop in fiction and poetry during the summer of 2004/05, contribute samples of work produced during their time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Andrew Johnston continues to write home from his Paris domicile. And within New Zealand, contributors come from as far north as Kaitaia, as far south as Dunedin.

With this issue we introduce a new section, The Reading Room. The writers in the IIML’s MA (Page) workshop are asked to keep a reading journal over the course of the year. These journals are intended to record their reflections on the short stories, poems and novels each has chosen to read for the purposes of inspiration or instruction while working on their manuscripts. Since writers are prone to avoidance, the journals also tend to reflect the digressions and detours that often seem so appealing when we are putting off the real work: what kind of pen name should I have? How do published writers cope with public performance? The journals are not written for public consumption, and the format doesn’t call for rigorously footnoted academic argument or carefully constructed opinion: it’s a first-person, present tense record of the writer’s mind figuring out how it’s done, both on the page and in the world. The results are lively and conversational, and we hope to continue presenting excerpts from the reading journals in future issues.

And then there’s a long interview with the 2004 Victoria University Writer in Residence, James Brown, conducted by the novel method of inviting a secret sample of people who know James and his poetry to provide the questions. For the poet’s views on the presentation of women in his work, the question of ’academic-élitist’ poetry versus performance poetry and the virtues of mountain-biking, look no further.

Thanks go to Elizabeth Styron, Sanjan Kar, Colin Doig and Jason Darwin at the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre for patient technical direction and for hosting the Turbine site. Thanks again to David Long for recording most of the poetry (Hinemoana Baker’s poem was recorded by Jason McClelland at Radio New Zealand), and to Imogen Mitchell for designing this issue. Turbine could not function without the support of Fiona Wright and Katie Hardwick-Smith.

We hope you enjoy Turbine 04!

Kirsten McDougall
Chris Price