There are 92 takahē spread out on the floor of Cassandra Fusco’s spare room. We edge around the walls so as not to step on them. It’s a large room, and they take the full space. We look more closely and notice the differences in design features over the years – changes in the page-position and font of ‘TAKAHĒ’, and the art tastes of different editors. It’s an impressive display, and it comes home to me not only the wonderful long history of the magazine, but also how it seems to be an ungainly creature, pulsing in its changes, beautiful and sometimes ugly, but always evolving, growing there on the floor.
This is my first issue as joint poetry editor, along with Jeni Curtis, and we’re grateful to be part of this evolution. We bring with us our tastes and ideas of flair. For this issue, takahē 93, we have chosen poems about engagement rings turned cockerbullies, dead birds as ballerinas, roofs that are falsehoods, and poems from as far as Ugbogbo and as close as Christchurch, where our notable guest poet, Karen Zelas, resides. Karen has given us a stunning, long poem about the ‘tumult and turmoil’ of the world’s shifting sands.
As new poetry editors, we’re walking into the monstrous shoes James Norcliffe left to fill. It was James’ second time as poetry editor of takahē and he is known affectionately around poetry-haunts as Canterbury’s father of poetry. This showed in the selections he made – confident, delightful and varied in form and poet. Last year, he proposed the name for our poetry competition as ‘The Monica Taylor Poetry Prize’ after an unknown poet, Monica Taylor, who left a bequest to takahē in her will. Takahē published Monica’s first and (I think) only poem, and James thought this reflected something important about our magazine’s values – to promote new writers, as well as established ones. James has accepted a residency at Randall Cottage in Wellington, where he is now ensconced, working on a novel. We thank him for his huge part in takahē’s evolution and wish him all the best in his current project.
With evolving, mistakes are made, then hopefully learnt from, dealt with and never seen again. For print issue 92, we had a new chair, secretary, competition secretary and design team and, as such, a few mistakes were made in the process of pulling the issue together. To our horror, Michael Harlow, our guest poet, told us on receiving his copy that two of his poems had had the titles swapped. This should never have happened if our processes had been robust, and we apologise sincerely. As a poet, I know how awful this would feel. We will be re-printing Michael’s poems in the next print issue, takahē 94, and are working through our processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Our meeting at Cassandra’s was for the editors, new and established, to help us grow more robust in our design and editorial processes as a new team. Cassandra, as our most established editor, has become keeper of our collection over the years, and I think I speak for all of us at takahē when I express our gratitude for that. Zöe Meager will be our newest editor when she takes over from fiction editors Jane Seaford and Rachel Smith next year. We are evolving. I hope you enjoy our new beast, issue 93. May she continue to grow and be wondrous.
Joint Poetry Editor
The 2018 takahē Monica Taylor Poetry Prize is now open. $250 prize for the winner, $100 for the runner-up. Closes Aug 31st. James Norcliffe is our judge. See our competition page for guidelines.