Spin 45: Editorial (2003)

Jack Ross, ed.: Spin 45 (March 2003)


Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

Over the past five years I’ve edited five issues of Spin, each one marking the New Year in a manner memorable to me, at least. This, however, will be the last (for the foreseeable future, at any rate).

It’s been a pure pleasure to do it, and I’m certainly not stepping down from the editorship of the March issue because I’m bored with the magazine. On the contrary, I’m more convinced than ever that it serves a real function in New Zealand poetry, allowing newcomers to appear side-by-side with established names, and offering a forum to both the experimental and the traditional.

Ever since Tony Chad announced his retirement as managing editor, however, it’s been increasingly apparent that we can’t continue on the present basis – more for practical and financial reasons than any others.

Owen Bullock, a consistent contributor over a long period, also active in the Poetry Society, has agreed to become our new managing editor. He’ll be editing one of the two yearly issues which will make up the enlarged, new look Spin. Kokako (formerly known as WinterSpin), the haiku / short poems issue, will continue to be edited by Bernard Gadd and Patricia Prime.

So much for business. Strange days we live in, strange days. I considered for a while calling this issue Welcome to the War. It seems to be on everyone’s mind at the moment. It’s curious to look at Alison Colling’s poem “He loves America,” and contributions from American friends such as Virgil Suárez and Philip Waterhouse, and to match them against Jessica Le Bas’s strange, haunting “Osama Bin Laden sleeps.”

While the storm rages and the state is threatened by shipwreck, let us lower the anchor of our peaceful studies into the ground of eternity.

So wrote the Astronomer Kepler in 1629, halfway through the Thirty Years War. Is that the point I wish to make? Is our art, the art of poetry, a quietist one: reminding people to take time out to smell the flowers while cordite fills the air? Or is it our job to get them to wake up and smell the coffee?

Ideology always lags behind practice, thank God. I don’t know if it’s better to be a propagandist or a “pure poet,” but it’s an interesting question to raise. I think it’s precisely the question that Jessica Le Bas’s poem is asking. It’s also the question posed by Bill Sewell’s last book, The Ballad of Fifty-One (reviewed in this issue). Ave atque vale – hail and farewell.

(Monday, 17th March 2003)

Spin 45 (2003): 3.

[426 wds]

Spin 45 (2003)

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