Poetry NZ 38: Editorial (2009)

Jack Ross, ed.: Poetry NZ 38 (March 2009)


A couple of touchstones:
My feeling about technique in art is that it has about the same value as technique in lovemaking. That is to say, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill; but what you want is passionate virtuosity. – John Barth

One example of the genuine article undoes all the ambient speciousness. – Lee Posna

I’d like to add a third: this one from the review in this issue of Poetry NZ of the trilogy of New Zealand Poets in Performance anthologies edited by myself and Jan Kemp:
All criticism is inherently subjective; why should it matter anyway? Stop reading; go out and buy the things. – Richard Reeve

Keep at it appears to be the common factor behind all of these statements. It’s never been a particularly easy task to make good poems, and once you stop the talking and get down to writing there’s a disconcerting lack of signposts.

That, perhaps, can be the value of a magazine such as this. It’s not that any editor’s opinion of your work should matter all that much, but there is the pleasure of seeing your poem jostling and chumming up with the other poems, rather like a child on the first day of school. Some of those kids will become friends, others sworn enemies, most just faces in the crowd, but your interactions with them will teach you a lot of vital things about yourself.

“Robust and opinionated” would be my description of Richard Reeve’s review of Jan and my poor little set of audio/text anthologies. Lee Posna’s essay on Contemporary American Poetry doesn’t pull many punches, either. I’m not sure I agree either with Richard’s attempt to revive those old South Island / North Island divisions or with Lee’s strictures on a certain anthology entitled Legitimate Dangers. I like their commitment and seriousness, though. Above all, I respond to the joy they clearly take in discussing (and writing) good poems.

Thanks to Alistair Paterson for allowing me to take on the guest-editing of this issue; thanks to Lee Posna and Bronwyn Lloyd, who helped so much with shaping it and putting it together; thanks to John Denny for his wisdom and expertise; thanks, too, to Jen Crawford, whose searing “Pop Riveter” poems seem to me to sum up everything implied by the phrase “passionate virtuosity.”


Poetry New Zealand 38. ISSN 0114-5770 (2009): 9.
[Available at: Poetry New Zealand (12/3/09)]

[395 wds]

Poetry NZ 38 (2009)

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