Landfall 233, 70th anniversary edition, edited by David Eggleton.
Dunedin: OUP (2017).
RRP: $30. Soft cover, 207pp.
ISBN: 9780947522520. www.otago.ac.nz/press/landfall/index.html
Reviewed by Patricia Prime.
Landfall 233, edited by David Eggleton is the 70th Anniversary Edition. Eggleton is a poet, writer and critic. His most recent collection, The Conch Trumpet (OUP, 2015), won the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Award for poetry.
Landfall 233 features artwork by Chris Corson-Scott, Heather Strada, Jenna Packer and Samuel Harrison, many featured writers and ten reviews. The journal has been published for a lengthy period. However, the present volume brings with it, along with numerous well-known names, several new ones. The integrity of the Editorial Board has contributed greatly to the liveliness and catholicity of the journal. They have read submissions, garnered new work and commissioned reviews.
I found much to admire in Chris Corson-Scott’s photographs of outdoor shots of images of ruined buildings. Heather Straka’s paintings of the bare backs of young women are riveting for their beauty, simplicity and sensuality. Jenny Packer’s image of a rampaging bull in a gritty piece of drawing and Samuel Harrison presents the final piece of art in a sensual woodcut of a couple posing in the nude.
There are ten reviews in the section “Featured Reviews” by Paul Moon, Kristyn Harman, Edmund Bohan, Chris Else, James Norcliffe, Airini Beautrais, Peter Bland, Murray Edmond, Erena Shingade and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.
The journal also announces the winner of the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition, 2017. Any Xie’s winning essay is a piece about migration, transformation and the self-sacrifice of his parents. The emotional restraint and terseness of his lines is a hallmark of his writing. The difficult memories are contained within the essay’s formal structure. Feelings of loss and coming to know another culture are captured in these sentences.
Landfall is a journal that draws you in slowly and subtly to think more about the way language is used. The poetry is variably witty, intimate and lyrical. There is appeal here for many readers. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the poetry in Landfall is its range of tone. As well as satire, there is powerful and evocative narrative, as in Anne Kennedy’s “Force Transformations on a Theme of Philip” (dedicated to Philip Kennedy), which is a three-page poem in four parts. It contains simple words and phrases, yet there are evocative moments, as in Trans3:
a bone cup
put your trust
in the pattern of the room
Light the fuse
on a piano
punk the black and white
don’t look forward, don’t look back
Victoria Broome’s enactment of seeing Dr Zhivago at the Vogue Theatre (in a poem of that title), brought back happy memories to me of seeing the film myself:
When I was thirteen a neighbour took me to see Dr Zhivago.
In the upstairs circle of the Vogue Theatre in Barrington Street,
the red velvet Austrian pleats fell into themselves
as they rose to the darkening ceiling.
There is a melancholy excursus into the past in Dunstan Wood’s poem, “Reading Iain Lonie”, with its focus on a poet’s Collected Poems: This is the first verse from part 1:
The man who wrote these poems killed himself,
rejecting the ‘sober’ southern light of the city
where I was born, the same year he arrived
on what he saw as ‘the other side of the globe’.
Jenny Powell’s “Triforium Gloria Three Canticles” is a glorious “concrete” poem. This excerpt is from Canticle Three:
O heavenly joy
In this wondrous place we see you
beneath the triforium
Side wall triforium
below the clerestory
over the sanctuary.
Mark Young’s prose poem “Episodes from a Life of Occasional Intersections” is a vivid account of the death of his brother from diabetes, which ends with three simple, heart-rending sentences:
I sent him a Christmas card. I got a letter back from his wife saying he had died some months before. I had not known.
The wide array of subjects and scope take the reader travelling across personal reflections, geographies and histories – including Hans Christian Anderson, birds, territory, high-wire intensities, more seemingly personal poems, such as the beauty of the countryside in Karen Zelas’ “Flesh”. Here are the first lines:
These quilted hills stitched with vines roll further
than the eye’s compass, seamless transition from this
holding to next, defined only be the occasional estate
name, here a rose bush marking a row, there white
netting, a bridal veil, trailing the contours, barely
a blade of grass for sheep or cow.
There are numerous wonderful poems, too many to include in a review, such as Riemke Ensing’s “The Last Summer of the World”, Doc Drumheller’s wonderful evocation of ‘the upstairs room at City Lights Bookstore’ in “Via Ferlinghetti” and Ted Jenner’s vivid “A Tongan Prayer”, with its recall of prayer as being like a ‘five-note pre-dawn / chorus / a susurration / no louder than the wind’. Part autobiography, part commentary, part homage, this is a marvellous selection of poetry from among the best New Zealand poets. The poems are erudite yet accessible, technically deft, serious, occasionally humorous. What I appreciate about Landfall is the careful attention given to both selection and sequencing of the poems. Voices, themes, forms and registers occur throughout the volume.
Patricia Prime, besides being a regular contributor to takahē, is co-editor of Kokako and assistant editor of Haibun Today. Patricia’s primary interest is Japanese short form poetry: haiku, tanka, haibun and tanka prose and she has published a book of collaborative tanka sequences called Shizuka (2015).