Welcome to Turbine 2005


It’s been a busy year for New Zealand literature, and nowhere more so than in Wellington, where literary event programmes presented by the New Zealand Book Council, the National Library and the International Institute of Modern Letters continued to attract substantial audiences. The Bell Gully National Schools Poetry Award and Writing Festival drew a vibrant crowd of young talent (and their teachers) for writing workshops and panels in August. The Main Trunk Lines exhibition at the National Library offered a lively survey of New Zealand poetry, and the literary magazine Sport offered a retrospective of its first seventeen years in the recently published anthology Great Sporting Moments. And of course the usual plethora of book launches stimulated the conversations and conviviality of the local literary community.

One of our aims with this issue of Turbine was to reflect the year’s activity in and around the IIML. Accordingly there are contributions from most of the participants in the Writers on Mondays series, held from July through to September at City Gallery Wellington (with additional support from the National Library and Chen Palmer & Partners). Anne Kennedy, Emily Dobson, Jan Lauwereyns, Gregory O’Brien, Jenny Bornholdt, Nick Twemlow, Robyn Schiff, Fiona Farrell and Stephanie de Montalk all talked about and read from their work, along with the 20 writers taking part in the 2005 MA (Page) workshop, many of whom are published here.

Some of those events and writers also make guest appearances in The Reading Room, which houses extracts from reading journals kept by a number of the MA (Page) writers as an imaginative activity running in parallel with work on their manuscripts. Thus another Writers on Mondays guest, the Australian writer Robert Dessaix, is present here, not in his own words, but mirrored in the responses of writers who attended his appearances. We particularly want to thank the writers who were prepared to let their private musings see the light of publication in this way. The journals offer a window on both the writer’s mind and the writing workshop, places where the pressing questions about published work are not so much ‘What does this mean?’ or ‘How is it significant to the culture?’ but ‘How is this made?’ and ‘How is it useful to me?’

Turbine 05 is not set up to be a closed shop, however. In this issue we are also pleased to introduce new work by writers such as Wes Lee, Julie Hill, Melissa Firth and Talia Marshall, whose work simply emerged from the submissions folder.

2005 may have been the monster export year for New Zealand film directors, but in its less noisy way our poetry also found itself travelling to parts of the world where its existence had barely registered in the past. An unprecedented five New Zealanders appeared at international poetry festivals in Rotterdam and Antwerp in May (thanks in no small measure to the enthusiasm of Jan Lauwereyns). Immediately afterwards Tusiata Avia, Gregory O’Brien and Ian Wedde headed off to Moscow to help launch the first major anthology of New Zealand poetry in Russian translation. For those curious to know what impression of us they might be getting in Russia, we present the English-language versions of the Preface and Introduction to Land of Seas, as well as the contents pages.

Thanks again to David Long for recording the audio files of poets Michele Amas, Stefanie Lash and Ashleigh Young, to Imogen Mitchell for designing this issue, and to Robert Cross for photographing Victoria University Writer in Residence Stephanie de Montalk. As ever, Turbinecould not function without the administrative support of Katie Hardwick-Smith. And finally our heartfelt thanks go to Jason Darwin and Colin Doig of the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre for their efficiency and patience in getting Turbine online – and to departing director of the NZETC, Elizabeth Styron, who has been a supporter since Turbine began in 2001.

Turbine 05 represents a year of intense discussion, reading and writing. We hope readers will enjoy both the works selected here, and the conversations – explicit and implicit – going on between them.

Chris Price 
Kerry Hines