Monthly Archives: June 2010

JAAM 27 reviewed

Cover of JAAM 27

It’s just the way of things, but it seems strange that while we’re in the thick of preparing JAAM 28 (the DanceDanceDance issue) the reviews of JAAM 27 should appear.

Literary magazines are pretty lucky to get reviews, so I’m happy we’ve had two (at least that I’ve seen – let us know if you’ve seen any others), and both are online.

The first was by young poet Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle in the New Zealand Poetry Society magazine, A Fine Line.

About the poetry, she says:

Many of the poems have excellent cadence and fluidity, using long lines and enjambment. The idea of flight weaves throughout this section. Two poems which stand out are Sue Fitchett’s ‘Wing walking’, a tribute to aerial stuntwoman Jessie Woods, and Siobhan Harvey’s ‘Birds’, which talks about leaving one’s home country. Majella Cullinane’s ‘Exile’ conveyed similar sentiments to Harvey’s, and was also a good read. I enjoyed Robert McLean’s poems, especially ‘Poem’, emulating the talky style of Frank O’ Hara – the poem being a homage to him.

Of creative non-fiction she says,  ‘Martin Edmond’s interesting excerpt from ‘The Thousand Ruby Galaxy’, a piece to re-read and ponder’, and ‘Helen Lehndorf skilfully wanders between the past and present in her piece about motherhood. Even her title employs a wandering quality – a sprawling 42 words – which made me smile.’

She notices the recurrence of snow in the fiction, and says ‘Kirsty Gunn, Kelly Joseph, Michele Powles and Susan Gendall also use memory to tell a story, creating absorbing narratives.’

Artistic images by Mike Ting are included in JAAM 27 as well – strange, unsettling, interesting – I kept coming back to them and studying them, noticing tiny details which I hadn’t previously. The image on the cover by Rachel Walker, ‘Falling through time’, is fantastic too, one of the best JAAM covers I’ve seen for a while.

You can read the whole review here:  http://www.poetrysociety.org.nz/aboutjaam27

The second review is by Julia Cooper in The Lumière Reader. Julia says that, with the wandering theme, she:

half expected to be thrown into literary disarray—poetry cavorting with non-fiction, promiscuous prose showing up wherever it pleased—foolhardily thinking that wandering was synonymous with all over the place.

I stand corrected. Contrary to my expectation for the collection’s structure to twist and swerve, for form to follow content’s ambulation, I found instead, order. Mike Ting’s images Naturalize and Overnight Sublime, which appear at the end of JAAM 27’s first section, serve not as a transition from poetry to prose, so much as a means of separating the two—a spatial authority.

She notes, however, that the prose poems and poetic prose (especially Vana Manasiadis’s ‘Wedding Address’) do blur the distinctions between the forms.

There is a subtlety and nuance in wandering that sets it apart from mere straying or disorientation, a control that is manifest and mastered in this exciting collection.

While saying ‘There are too many contributions to praise and decipher here, too many conversions, conversations, journeys, and correlations to extrapolate and to do them all justice’, she does mention some writers in particular, including Martin Edmond (‘lyrical and surreal on technology and poetry’); Pat White (‘philosophical questions of exile, migration, and post-colonial societies, and compellingly explores the opposite of wandering: dwelling’; Helen Lehndorf (‘which is true in plot and in humour to its title, but which is also a sad, serious, and witty contemplation of modern-day motherhood’); Kelly Joseph (‘the widening gap between siblings’) and Susanna Gendall ‘the myriad ignorance and the simultaneous astuteness of childhood’.

She concludes:

Far from literary disarray however, this is an intricately threaded, yet capacious, collection of poetry and prose, whose permeable boundaries have allowed the authors and texts to digress and wander in indulgent, thoughtful, and surprising ways.

You can read the whole review here: http://lumiere.net.nz/index.php/jaam-27-wanderings/.

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