Fiction Submissions for takahe 87 online

millie editing
“I don’t poodle around. If it’s crap, it’s crap!”

[Caption provided by Andrew Mark Bell]

We, my consulting editor and I, have been overwhelmed by the response from NZ writers for this first online issue – regulars and new faces. The longer word count has been welcomed by writers, with high quality work coming in. Since the online issue is the only forum for these, we feel we need to give priority to the best of the longer works, holding over equally good shorter stories for the print December issue. I hope this won’t disappoint anyone too much. Who’d want to be an editor? And we do it for love – of writing.

Poetry Competition – Deadline 31 August 2016 – Judge Peter Bland

three takaheHow are the poems coming along???

I cleared the P O Box today.  Special thanks to all those well organised poets who have posted early. The deluge of entries that arrive close to the deadline date can be overwhelming!

Thought I would share with you some of the things that I like about winter:

No hayfever, cold frosty mornings and clear days, sleeping trees, cinnamon on my latte (that’s trim for me –  thanks) and Christmas is still six months away. Ho Ho Ho.

Beware: before you know it Snoopy and the Red Baron will be zooming around the Mall. Get cracking on those poems and don’t be caught short. Remember to leave yourself enough time for a decent edit and don’t forget an inspiring title. Titles matter, trust me, first impressions and all that.

I’m leaving the last word for David Howard, our 2014 judge. He said in his Poetry Competition 2014 Judge’s report Poets are good when they use their linguistic insight to see beyond what is visible.   And  For me the most precious aspect of poetry is its capacity to capture, perhaps even to create, intimacy.

Happy writing.

2016 Short Story Comp – shortlist soon!

three takaheGood news: patience is a virtue (but you knew that!)

Not so good news: We are running behind time and the new date for the release of our short story competition short list will now be the first week of July.

Everything else is good. Our judge is busy judging and word on good authority is that she is finding a lot to like in the stories.

So, thank you everyone for entering our competition, thank you for your patience and thank you for keeping us on your radar.


“Are you being served?” – writers, readers, publishers and reviewers … ?

Walter Dean Myers, American author of more than a hundred books for children and young adults, wrote about growing up a bibliophile in Harlem but falling out of love with books that failed to offer characters with whom he could relate. James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues changed that. It proved to be both an antidote and a revelation, Myers says, “I was lifted by it, for it took place in Harlem, and it was a story concerned with black people like those I knew. By humanizing the people who were like me, Baldwin’s story also humanized me. The story gave me a permission that I didn’t know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map”.

Reflecting on Walter Meyers’ experiences – about representations in literature – it strikes me that alongside reading, writing and publishing, reviewing is a weighty task, not to be lightly undertaken and definitely a part of the ‘landscape’.

It has been said that writers write to share their ideas and experiences, to convey meaning and work with others; that publishing is the pivotal event that marks the move from ‘writer’ to ‘author’, and that reviewers, ideally, offer an analysis based on content, style and merit.

A review is an evaluation. It is not enough for it to be based on or anchored in personal taste – bland, glowing or otherwise. Nor is a review an occasion for a display of learning or to promulgate a reviewer’s own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work.

Reviews are more than assessments of content, style, and merit. Reviews generate evidence for evaluation and making judgements about the written and published ‘landscapes’ of experience and the values these reflect or omit.

In takahē’s forthcoming reviews there is a wealth of sharing: of ideas and experiences by emerging and established authors, published by small and large presses in Aotearoa New Zealand. Does this selection reflect the diversity of experiences in our communities? We’d like to think so. That said, we are always open to feedback – especially about gaps or blind spots!

As we gather together our forthcoming reviews (a selection that does not necessarily cover all the publications of the season) it is our intention, however imperfectly achieved, to deliver reviews attuned to context and difference that encourage readers to explore and consider for themselves the diversity of ‘landscape’ being written about and published in Aotearoa New Zealand – by commercial, academic and self-publishing presses.

So, what are we writing, reading and publishing? Are you being served? In the list of forthcoming reviews for issues 87 (August, on line and free) and 88 (December) there is a rich mix, some with succinct short titles and some with very long ones! Yes – difference!

In takahē’s 87 (August), there’s Fale Aitu ‖ Spirit House by Tusiata Avia (VUP). I still remember my sense of amazement when I first read her poem (ten odd years ago?), “Pa’u-stina”– ‘I am da devil pa’umuku kirl …’.

In t87 there’s a review of The Blue Outboard, New and Selected Poems by Nicholas Williamson (Black Doris Press) and in which Carolyn McCurdie finds, “care for quality, integrity, craft, are evident in every aspect … ”.

Also in t. 87 there’s a review of Leaving the Red Zone: poems from the Canterbury earthquakes edited by James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston (Clerestory Press). This gathers together 148 poems from 87 poets and in which, according to Dr. Christopher Gomez (a natural hazards scientist), “The brain gains a heart”.

There’s also a review of a collaborative work by a bevy of New Zealand and German poets: Transit of Venus   Venustransit by Hinemoana Baker, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Glenn Colquhoun, Uwe Kolbe, Brigitte Oleschhinski and Chris Price (VUP). Reviewer Janet Newman found that the work “… is not only about the Transit of Venus ­– a significant marker in New Zealand’s colonial history – but also illuminates the differing perspectives of poets from opposite sides of the world”.

And there’s a review of Helena Wiśniewska Brow’s book, Give us this day (VUP) which, Ludmila Sakowski says, ‘demonstrates that memoir can be more than a genre’.

Watch out for some of those longer titles in takahē 87 and 88:

Ko te Whenua te Utu / Land is the Price: Essays on Maori History, Land and Politics by M. P. K. Sorrenson (AUP); Ka Ngaro Te Reo Māori language under siege in the nineteenth century by Paul Moon (OUP); Extraordinary Anywhere: Essays on Place from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Ingrid Horrocks and Cherie Lacey (VUP); Artefacts of Encounter, Cook’s voyages, colonial collecting and museum histories, edited by Nicholas Thomas, Julie Adams, Billie Lythberg, Maia Nuku and Amiria Salmond (OUP); and Re-inventing New Zealand Essays on the arts and the media by Roger Horrocks (Atuanui Press).

And keep an eye out for the work of six poets (published by Makaro Press’ HOOPLA Series): Where the fish grow by Ish Doney; Withstanding by Helen Jacobs; Bones in the Octagon by Carolyn McCurdie, Udon by The Remarkables by Harvey Molloy; Possibility of flight by Heidi North-Bailey and Felt Intensity by Keith Westwater, reviewed by Patricia Prime in takahē issue 88 (December).

So – the long and the short of it? Are you being served? What are we writing, reading and publishing?

At the side of my desk is a newspaper article reporting on the falling standards of reading, writing and maths in our schools. MMmmmm …

Cassandra Fusco
Reviews Editor

‘Reading is not optional’ – Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014)

And since you are already online, why not check out takahē’s forthcoming spread of art, essays, fiction and poetry!

Poetry Competition 2016

three takaheHARK YE BARDS

Our 2016 Poetry Competition is now officially OPEN

JUDGE: Peter Bland

Usual conditions of entry with a tiny tweak: To thank our loyal subscribers we are offering one additional entry to the competition for FREE. Incentive or what! (Also available if you add a subscription amount with your entry fee.) Honestly, when was the last time you were offered anything for free?

Stuck for inspiration?

Crickey just take a walk through the park. It’s Autumn out there (my fav season). Think of mists and mellow fruits. So come-on all you lovely wordsmiths, stick on the old thinking cap, sharpen up the pencil, roll up your sleeves and go and make us some magic.