Any day now, the latest print issues of takahē – our 86th – will be arriving in mailboxes across the country. Hurrah!
Those of you who keep a regular eye on this website may have already seen some of our online content – all thirty-one book reviews for example, or the stunning art (cover and other) by Lisa Walker, or the sample fiction and poetry from Rachel Smith, Meagan France, Jenny Powell and Robert McLean. Or maybe you’ve read our Essays Editor’s Editorial piece, and taken a moment with your cup of coffee to wonder about the ins and outs of putting a magazine like takahē together, and keeping it a lively and satisfying read.
Of course, to get the full content of the magazine, you need to subscribe …
I was critiquing a story and suggested to the writer that the ending didn’t work.
‘But that really happened,’ she said. I replied that real events don’t always – or even often – make good fiction. When talking to friends about what’s been going on in our lives we tend to frame things in a particular way, embellish this, exaggerate that, so as to add interest to what we’re saying.
This is even more important when creating fiction. We might start from personal experience but we craft a piece as we write it, we wrap it in meaning, we add structure and significance.
Writers of fiction also produce works that have no basis in their own lives. But for these to work there has to be a connection between the writer and the work: the story expresses an emotion the writer feels or once felt.
Some of the short stories in takahe 86 (the April 2016 issue) are clearly based on personal experience. Some less so or not at all. Either way I hope you enjoy them.
DEADLINE (POST-MARKED) THURSDAY 31st MARCH
TAKE ACTION NOW. As expected the stories are rolling in – we are a popular competition. If you don’t enter you can’t possibly win! (we are clever but not that clever). Imagine the thrill if it is your well crafted, creative and compelling story that stands out. You have just enough time to re-read your work. TIP: If it bugs you it will bug someone else, trust yourself and make the change. Borrow ten dollars from the rainy day piggy-bank, fill out the entry form (printing clearly so I don’t have to keep asking my son to decipher the writing) and pop all in an envelope and post – bingo.
The very good news is that you have better odds of winning than if you spent the money on a lotto ticket.
All the very best for the competition.
Why does takahē publish reviews? Because, like the content of the magazine, reviews reflect on the creative and critical endeavours of our various and varied communities. And why do the reviewers write the reviews? Certainly not for the kudos or the coin! No. In keeping with takahē’s mission, reviewers keep the reflective conversations amongst us – writers, readers, listeners and publishers – flowing. And why do YOU read reviews? Please feel free to add to this conversation – firstname.lastname@example.org
At their best, reviewers are a generous and searching breed, eyes and ears attentively tuned to the themes, aims and intentions plied by diverse writers. They will comb a text and – frequently scrutinising the wider context – proceed to compare and critique it against earlier works by the author concerned, and/or with works by other writers. In doing so, reviewers will often snare our attention, prompt questions and promote curiosity about a writer’s goals and progress. Indeed a considered review can function in many ways. Most reviewers aim to share and inform with their findings. Their observations and evaluations may encourage writers and foster dialogue. Their critiques can also operate like open letters to publishers concerning not only content, but also matters of editing and design. How many layouts (be it of poetry, prose or academia) achieve alliances of form and content? For some effective collaborations of content and design have a look at the number of small presses reviewed in takahē 86, particularly Giant Sparrow Press (Wellington) and the Black Doris Press (Port Chalmers).
Like the distinctive current of contemporary writing, the little and large world of Aotearoa New Zealand publishing has matured significantly, at long last addressing silences and imbalances and genuinely embracing diversities and differences. In a world that has (as that man said) neither certitude nor peace, let’s hope these ‘conversations’ continue to flow and increase.
Those of you who are particularly sharp-eyed will have noticed that what was once the Cultural Studies section has been renamed Essays. This has been done largely for the sake of clarity, for the term ‘cultural studies’ can be a little opaque. The shift is also designed to signal clearly the sort of writing we would like to promote and share with you: works of creative non-fiction and cultural criticism that engage with culture or cultural practice in New Zealand and the South Pacific, with the term ‘culture’ being read in a broad and inclusive way.
I look forward to reading your submissions and am happy to answer any queries. You can find more specific guidelines on content and length under ‘Submit’.