Welcome to the ninety-sixth issue of takahē. That’s a pretty big number! For the sake of comparison, some other things there are exactly ninety-six of include: the number of officially recognised neighbourhoods of Berlin; the number of 14,000-foot mountains in the United States; and the number of tears in Question Mark and the Mysterians’ 1966 chart-topper ‘96 Tears’.
I have been involved with takahē since 2014, but this is my first time having any editorial input. Regular poetry editors Jeni Curtis and Gail Ingram asked me if I wanted to guest edit the poetry for T96 probably because they rate my judgement rather than because they think I am speedy and efficient. Anyway . . . I eventually met a deadline.
My most recent editing experience was my three-and-a-half-year stint as poetry editor of Queen Mob’s Teahouse from 2015 to 2018. QMT is characterised by a certain cosmopolitan rootlessness, and submissions and published work always came from all over the anglosphere. It has been exciting, then, to read work for a magazine like takahē, with a strong regional identity. Patterns and preoccupations emerge; attitudes and assumptions coalesce into a politics. I hope that the work I’ve selected dazzles like the lunchtime sun off a glass office building. I’ve prioritised poems that make a direct intervention against the status quo. There are poems here in touch with the Christchurch mosque attacks, violence against women, millennial economic precarity and more, from perspectives that are unique to this place. If, as Matthew Zapruder has written, ‘Poetry enacts the possibilities and powers that lie dormant in the nature of language itself,’ then I consider some new possibilities and powers to be well and truly enacted.
I know that the stories, essays and artworks chosen by my fellow editors are also here to do the emotional labour of struggle and survival. takahē is thirty years old this year, and if by some fluke our dear planet is still habitable in another thirty years’ time, I wouldn’t bet against takahē having hung on, too.
—Erik Kennedy, guest poetry editor, 30 July 2019