Edited by David Eggleton.
Dunedin: OUP (2017).
RRP: $30. Pb. 207pp.
Reviewed by Patricia Prime.
Landfall 234, edited by David Eggleton, includes featured artists, awards and competition results, writers and nine reviews.
We begin with Bill Manhire’s Judge’s Report on the Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry 2017. The winner was Alison Glenny’s Antarctic-focused The Farewell Tourist. The four runners-up were Nick Ascroft’s Moral Sloth, Tom McCone’s manuscript of love poems, Philip Armstrong’s Orpheus in Pieces and James Norcliffe’s Deadpan.
David Eggleton’s Judge’s Report on the Landfall Essay Competition includes two first-placed essays: ‘The Perfume Counter’ by Laurence Fearnley and ‘Shitfight’ by Alie Benge. There were also five shortlisted essays: ‘Gone Swimming’ by Ingrid Horrocks, ‘Reaching Out for Hear’ by Lynley Edmeades, ‘A Box of Bones’ by Sue Wootton, ‘I Wet My Pants’ by Kate Camp and ‘Trackside’ by Mark Houlahan. The two winning essays and the five shortlisted essays are published in this issue of Landfall.
Following the essays is a selection of poems. These poems are painterly, rendered like fine miniatures. Take the ending of Rhian Gallagher’s “The Illuminated Page”:
in a single hour as if some magic stardust
fell and broke the code words
woke upon the page sense with sense
converged to suffer the illumination gain
set on the scales with loss the world forever after
in translation. (p 64).
The poems also lend still-life detail to nature scenes, as in Medb Charleton’s “Huia’s Song” with its haiku-like verses:
sharp as air
in hooded forest.
under your spell
I hear love calling
from that jewellery box. (p 66).
The human is sometimes set in proportion to the landscape – a dot on the horizon, a small segment of life in relation to a vanishing point, as in Ruby Solly’s “You’ve Been Having My Nightmares”:
I awake first and find your hand clenched
around what you believe is a small handful of bees.
Your grip tightens as each breath
becomes smaller than the last. (p 74).
Kiri Piahana-Wong’s “Bender” is a lively description of a “3-day bender”. Memory itself becomes ephemeral as the speaker’s voice describes the act of forgetting:
wish I could tell you
what we did while
under the influence of
this drug but I can’t
remember any of it. All
I can remember is how
my nose would burn. (p 94).
Memory, too, comes into play in John Dennison’s long poem, “The Backyard Forms”. Here, he recalls picking up things on his way to school:
I’d find them in the gutters beside the road –
wheel-balancing weights cast in lead
that had flicked off the wheels of passing cars;
most were small, but some were a decent size,
a hand-width or more, warming in your palm,
and grimy. I’m not sure why I collected them – (p 109).
In “poet in his castle” by the fine poet, Vaughan Rapatahana, he recalls the poet-in-residence, Bob Orr. In his typical brief phrases, he achieves a skilful realisation of his meeting:
the ahoy came from a c r o s s the road.
we looked out and
& there he was
on the balustrade,
a sort of grimace,
waving like some l a g g a r d royal
in what appeared to be
an old captain’s chapeau. (p 134).
Also, in this issue is non-fiction by several writers, including Kate Camp, Lynley Edmeades, Ingrid Horrocks and Sue Wootton. There is also fiction by H E Crampton and Breton Dukes, reviews by luminaries including Martin Edmond, Jenny Powell and Iain Sharp and art by Andrew McLeod, Jenna Packer and James Robinson.
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).