Huge Congratulations to Fiona Sussman!

Fiona is ‘feeling very excited’, and well she might. Her recently published novel, Another Woman’s Daughter (Penguin/Random House, 2015) is Book of the Day at Washington Public Libraries.

Never mind tweeting, this is something to crow about!

A former GP, she left clinical practice in 2003 to write in earnest. She said in 2012, “When not juggling life with two teenage kids or working alongside my surgeon husband to establish Auckland’s first charity hospital, I write.” Her first novel, Black Prism, was named joint winner of the Nemesis Debut Novel Competition (UK).

Fiona is a past contributor to takahē. Her short story, “Roading”, which was included in issue 76, was a sensitive and subtle story about the impact on the people of a small town of being bypassed by a motorway.

It is always very rewarding to see takahē writers succeed in the wider literary world. A little reflected glory, perhaps? Or does it just confirm for us all such things are possible?

Signing off for 2015

Another year is winding to a close, and the various members of the takahē team are heading off to their respective breaks. But before everyone disappears on their summer holidays, we thought we’d give you an idea of the sorts of things we’ve enjoyed reading this year, as well as what we’re looking forward to in our New Year’s reading piles.
Merry Christmas!


Juliana Feaver (Competition Secretary)

Highlight of 2015: meeting Michael Robotham, a fav psychological mystery writer. As engaging and entertaining in person as he is on the page. He signed three books, what can I say: I’m a fan.

Looking forward to reading: Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From – The Selected Stories. Sourced from the store room of the public library. A masterclass in short story writing.


Erin Harrington (Essays Editor)

Highlight of 2015: Emily St John Mandel’s remarkable Station Eleven. On the surface it looks like yet another book about the redeeming power of art – capital A art, high culture, and so on – as we (mostly) follow a wandering Shakespeare troupe who bring ad hoc music and theatre to what few tiny communities remain in the aftermath of a global supervirus. Poke around a bit and this is a bit of a smoke screen for a gloriously nuanced, witty and thoughtful take on how we form connections, make sense of the world, and find meaning in things, be those things symphonies or comic books or gossip magazines or cheap, tacky trinkets. It dances beautifully between light and shade and its one of the best post-apocalyptic novels out there.

Looking forward to reading: getting stuck into Eugene Thacker’s Horror of Philosophy books, The Dust of this PlanetStarry Speculative Corpse and Tentacles Longer Than Night, all of which sit right at the heart of my personal and professional interests. They’ve been next to my desk at work for months in a guilty little pile and I finally have the time to wallow through them! Their publisher, Zero Books, combines the intellectual with the popular in a way that I love. Their catalogue is terrific, affordable and worth perusing.


Erik Kennedy (Treasurer and Twitter Maestro)

Highlight of 2015: I have elsewhere recommended Simon Barraclough’s book of poems Sunspots (Penned in the Margins, 2015). These are poems about, to, and by our solar system’s senior member. During the latter part of the year I began seriously reading Louis MacNeice in a way that I had never done before. I find his churning, thing-filled lines remind me of my own ideal verses. The edition to get is the door-stopping 2013 Collected Poems from Wake Forest University Press. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Daphne du Maurier’s novel The House on the Strand (Victor Gollancz, 1969) kept me up for two nights. This tale of an editor who, thanks to a highly addictive hallucinogen, is able to glimpse life in a Cornish village in the fourteenth century moves inexorably toward a terrifying conclusion.

Looking forward to reading: I have given my partner Alexandra Harris’s Romantic Moderns (Thames & Hudson, 2010) for Christmas, which means I’m obviously going to read it, too. Harris challenges the view of interwar England as, artistically, a benighted land of churchyards and tea rooms. Figures from Virginia Woolf to Eric Ravilious to John Piper emerge as champions of a sort of pastoral modernism. Also, I’ll certainly be reading American poet Michael Robbins’s first collection of criticism, Equipment for Living (Simon & Schuster, 2016?), which I’m pretty sure is finally coming out this year. No-one can detonate a mine under a blundering author’s feet like Robbins, but few writers can praise like him, either. Finally, Joanna might be interested to know that I have already written about the latest Les Murray.


Felicity Milburn (Art Editor)

Highlight of 2015: Since 1997, Julie King ‘s Flowers into Landscape has been the go-to source on the life and work of the Canterbury watercolourist Margaret Stoddart. Now King has turned her focus to another important, and equally fascinating, local artist with Olivia Spencer Bower: Making Her Own Discoveries (Canterbury University Press, 2015). Well researched and full of nuggets gleaned from the artist’s letters, photographs and archive, it’s set to become an instant classic.

Looking forward to reading: Actually, looking forward to finishing, as work pressures have limited me to one tantalising half-chapter each night for the last week: Lila (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), the third instalment in Marilynne Robinson’s remarkable Gilead trilogy. Subtle and luminous, it’s one to savour.


Joanna Preston (Poetry Editor)

Highlight of 2015: hard to go past the final ever Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown (Doubleday), completed only just before Terry Pratchett died. It’s funny, and sad, and brave, and all the things you expect from Pratchett. A fitting rounding-out to the Tiffany Aching arc. With a dedication that will break the heart of any Discworld fan.

Looking forward to reading: Les Murray’s latest poetry collection, Waiting for the Past (Black Ink). One of my favourite poets, and always an interesting read. (And often productive of poems of my own in response.) I’m also hoping that my copious hint-dropping has resulted in my other half getting me Don Paterson’s 40 Sonnets for Christmas … if not, Scorpio can expect me first thing on Boxing Day.


Poetry in takahē 85

“Lucrezia as Poetry” by Salvator RosaAny day now, the most recent issue of takahē – #85 – should be arriving in letterboxes all over the country. I hope it pleases you as much as it pleases us, especially in the wake of having to cancel the winter issue of the magazine.

The guest poet is ex Poet Laureate, Vincent O’Sullivan, who has a delicious offering of eight poems – you can read one, the lovely Anniversary, here. One thing to mention is that Vincent made a small change in the poem in the time between us sending the issue off to the printers and the writing of this post. The version here on the website is his corrected version. (Be interesting to see if anyone notices what it is that has changed …)

We also have the winning and second placed poems from this year‘s Poetry Competition (you can read the judge’s report here), as well as the work of twelve other poets, hailing from places as various as Toronto (Canada), Tauranga, New Plymouth, Hastings, Palmerston North, and Wanaka. (Not to mention Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.)

T85 iconIn the New Year I’ll be posting about one of the poems in this issue in a bit more detail, and talking about what it was in that poem that made me choose it. Until then, have a wonderful summer break, and may your reading time be long, luxurious, and heavily based on takahē!


Fiction in takahe 85

Preah KhanIt’s a new experience to be able to post comment about our hardcopy magazine! Hope it enhances your reading pleasure.

In #85 we have a departure in our Guest Fiction. Jane Seaford, Fiction Editor, agreed to be our invited writer. Jane has a long history of success with her short stories, both in competitions within NZ and overseas, having several times been short- or longlisted for the prestigious Fish Competition. Her stories have also been read frequently on RadioNZ. It seemed a pity for you not to be able to read her writing just because she is an editor. In addition to appearing in the print magazine, Jane’s story, “Living in the Wrong Place”, is also live on this website for those who do not subscribe to takahe magazine. Go to the “Current Issue” page to find it.

Also live from this issue is Jan FitzGerald’s story, “Return Trip”. I particularly liked this story for its interior monologue and exterior dialogue. A story of family relations in another culture, with a defiant twist. Good beginning, good middle and good ending. It moved my emotions about.


Karen Zelas
Fiction Editor

We’ve changed! (But you don’t have to)

Welcome to the new-look website for takahē magazine. And welcome to our brand-spanking-new blog!

We plan to have regular posts from each of the editors, talking about such varied things as why we chose a particular piece (poem, story, essay or artwork); what trends seem to be emerging in New Zealand cultural life; how long it is until the next print issue appears; who we have judging the competitions (you do know about our competitions, don’t you?); calls for submissions, and anything else that occurs to us at the time. We’ll also have occasional posts from the various other members of the Takahē Collective – the people who are usually behind the scenes, keeping things ticking over.

This is also where you get the chance to take part in the discussions: is there something you would like to know? A question you’d like to ask, a comment you’d like to make, a suggestion for future topics, or for future featured writers/artists? Comments will be moderated, so abuse, spam, and random witterings that aren’t sufficiently interesting or relevant will not make it out of moderation. (It’s not just trolls. Until you’ve blogged, you have no idea how many people there are out there attempting to hijack comments to sell herbal or mechanical ʻenhancements’. Or photos of celebrities. Or who have a large sum of money that they would like to give you but first dear one I need your bank account details …)

T85 iconSo welcome – have a look around, take in the sights, and enjoy. And if you would like to be kept up to date with takahē news, and announcements of things like competitions, collaborations, impending deadlines and other matters of a literary and artistic nature, subscribe to follow the blog – it’s absolutely free, and means you’ll be effortlessly In The Know.

The Takahē Collective: bringing the best art and literature from Aotearoa New Zealand to the world. Join us!