Earthquake Poetry Anthology Launch

LtRZ cover – finalLeaving the Red Zone was launched last night at a packed and very suitable venue, The Laboratory in Lincoln (furnished with recycled materials salvaged from the Christchurch earthquakes).

These earthquakes have shaken up Cantabrians’ lives for the last five years, and shaken out many moving and impressive poems.

On this fifth anniversary of the deadly February 2011 quake, an anthology has been drawn together by our very own poetry editor Joanna Preston and her predecessor James Norcliffe. It includes work by all but one past poetry editor of takahē – David Howard, Bernadette Hall, James Norcliffe, Siobhan Harvey; and also a number of the current takahē team – Joanna Preston, Janet Wainscott, Catherine Fitchett, Erik Kennedy and myself . So, a takahē fest!

I sat down to browse Leaving the Red Zone when i got home after the launch and couldn’t put it down. Between its covers lie the hearts and minds of 87 New Zealand poets, the hearts and minds of a community.

Secure your copy now. $39.95 per copy. Free delivery within NZ.

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Short Story Competition

three takaheReminder Reminder Reminder

Deadline 31 March. – Five weeks to go – It’s not too late to pull out the pen, or crank up the computer.

Wow the judge with your startling storyline, quirky plot and astute description all neatly packed into 2000 glorious words. This is a chance to have YOUR story read by one of the best, receive a cash bonus and the opportunity to be published in our illustrious magazine.

And don’t forget the three most important words: Edit, Edit Edit.

Juliana – Competitions Secretary

Poetry selections complete for takahē 86

Format Status

“The Arts – Poetry” by Alfonse MuchaAll the selections for the poetry component of the next issue have been made, and sent off to the tender ministrations of our layout designer, Peter Fitchett. (Yep, all this stuff happens quite a while in advance of the publication date of the issue.)

Our guest poet for takahē 86 is Robert Sullivan, and we have poems from fifteen contributors, ranging geographically from Otago to Auckland, via Scotland. It’s looking like a very interesting issue, with a real mix of topics. There’s a slightly higher-than-average number of humorous poems, and quite a few examples of formal work (what can I say – I’m a sucker for both, done well).

 

Choosing the stories for the next issue

GovernorsBayPanoramicI’ve been selecting the short fiction for takahe 86, due out in April. There wasn’t a single submission that didn’t have some merit – great style, interesting characters or a gripping plot.

As I went through the pile, making decisions, it struck me yet again how fiendishly difficult it is to write a good short story. The ones that appealed to me were those which read easily, the words flowing gracefully. Effort made so as to appear effortless; no forced metaphors or flowery constructions; no unnecessary extras.

More than this is needed, however. There has to be one or more characters that the reader believes in, a beginning that intrigues, an ending that satisfies. But above all I realised, as I read piece after piece, there must be a substantial reason – other than telling a tale, or showing a slice of life – why the writer has chosen this particular subject. I believe that the stories I finally selected were those whose creator had become immersed, obsessed perhaps, by the fiction they were producing.

I hope you enjoy reading the chosen pieces when takahe 86 appears.

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?