Welcome to Turbine 2007


Turbine has kept a strong focus on home-grown writing this year, with many submissions coming from both established and emerging writers in the community.

But we do have sprinklings of international flavour as well. This year Medb Charleton brings her romantic Irish eye to the New Zealand landscape, and Tokyo-based journalist Brent Kininmont’s poems explore ideas of translation and cross-cultural communication. Stout Research fellow Andrew Johnston, who’s taken a year’s sabbatical from his job in Paris to write a critique of contemporary New Zealand poetry, contributed the poem ‘Foxtrot’, a playful take on the New Zealand accent. And American Dora Malech said of her poem ‘Dreaming in New Zealand’: ‘It’s not about your funny pronunciation — it’s about my funny ear.’

Turbine has always been a showcase for students from the International Institute of Modern Letters’ MA programme, and this year is no exception. We are pleased to present fresh work from the 2007 crop, as well as writing from past graduates. Recently published poets Michele Amas and Johanna Aitchison have contributed work, and we’ve included a story from MA (page) graduate Eleanor Catton, who won both the 2007 Sunday Star-Times short-story competition and the Adam Prize in Creative Writing.

The IIML’s annual Writers on Mondays series is always a fascinating opportunity to hear writers read and discuss their work — and their work habits. This year, for the first time, we’ve been recording the sessions. Hearing poetry and prose read aloud adds a new dimension of musicality and immediacy to the written word, and being able to present those recordings here is a great advantage of Turbine as an electronic journal.

The Institute’s strong connection with the renowned Iowa Writers Workshop is represented here by contributions from Iowans Sam Reed and Monica Bergers, who will visit Wellington over the summer to teach workshops in poetry and fiction. Therese Lloyd, who is currently studying at Iowa on a Schaeffer Fellowship, has also contributed a poem. And lastly we have the great pleasure of marking Dora Malech’s considerable contribution to the local writing scene — both as co-convener (or ‘co-conspirator’, as she puts it) of the 2007 MA programme and as a poet — by publishing five poems, along with audio from her Writers on Mondays session. We’ll be sorry to see her go.

We also have a lively interview with playwright, screenwriter, novelist and short-story writer Dave Armstrong, who was the Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence this year.

Lastly, look out for our regular section The Reading Room, which features excerpts from journals kept by MA (Page) students during the year. These free and often unguarded entries explore a year of immersion in the writing life, with all its attendant excitements and agonies. The reading journals make a wonderful addition to the students’ carefully crafted poems and stories. Visiting writers Eliot Weinberger, Richard Ford and Lavinia Greenlaw, who taught masterclasses at the Institute in 2007, left behind a rich legacy of reflection in the reading journals.

Turbine owes a great deal to the staff at the NZ Electronic Text Centre. Special thanks to Jason Darwin, Jamie Norrish and Samantha Callaghan for their patience and help with the technical side. Thanks also to Katie Hardwick-Smith for all her administrative support, and to Ian Finch for his stunning design.

Hope you enjoy Turbine 07!

Joan fleming

Chris Price