30 January 2008

Good Reviews

All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens has received a couple of good reviews. I've put extracts on my web site, and the originals are also available online as part of review columns, together with reviews of some other fine books of New Zealand poetry:

A nice feature of this for me is that both Trevor and Hamesh also reviewed my first collection, Boat People, for their respective publications.

27 January 2008

I'm Editing JAAM 26

I'm editing Issue 26 of JAAM Magazine. The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2008.

JAAM (Just Another Art Movement) is a literary journal run by an independent publishing collective in Wellington, New Zealand.

JAAM publishes emerging writers alongside the work of established writers. It focuses on New Zealand writers, but overseas writers are also welcome to submit.

JAAM prints fiction, poetry, essays and black and white artworks. Payment is NZ$20 per contributor (rather than per contribution) for accepted work, plus a free copy of the magazine. There is no official word limit, but fiction and essays longer than 4000 words will have to be exceptional to be published.

JAAM publishes literary fiction and poetry. For JAAM 26, writing in other genres, such as speculative fiction and poetry (science fiction, fantasy and horror) will be considered on an equal footing to literary fiction and poetry. There is no set theme for this issue.

Submissions for JAAM 26 can be emailed to jaammagazine@yahoo.co.nz or posted to:

PO Box 25239
Panama Street
Wellington 6146
New Zealand

Make sure you enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope for reply.

Subscriptions within New Zealand are $24 for three issues (includes postage). Cheques can be sent to the address above.

For more information, see JAAM’s MySpace page.

25 January 2008

Book Review: Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems, edited by Alexander Coleman (Penguin, 2000)

Jorge Luis Borges is best known in the English-speaking world as a writer of stories and essays, but it was as a poet that he first became known in his native Argentina. His Selected Poems gathers together translations of his poetry by a number of different highly talented hands. I opened it with some trepidation, wondering whether the poetry could possibly be as good as the fiction: I’m delighted to report that it is every bit as good.

The Selected Poems prints the Spanish original of each poem on the left and the English translation on the right. The translators have done a fine job of transporting Borges’ characteristic concerns and his clarity of expression from Spanish to English. Borges’ great interests – time, the infinite, doppelgangers, the mortal hazard posed by mirrors – are as omnipresent in the poetry as in the prose, but are expressed with even greater economy in the poetry, which swoops between the private and the universal with almost dizzying facility.

Borges’ work is at once funny and profound, tragic and comic, mired in dread and rife with beauty. In my opinion, Jorge Luis Borges was the greatest writer of the twentieth century.

Some Borges links

19 January 2008

A Space for Science Fiction

Without much fuss, a space for science fiction, and fiction about science, is opening up within New Zealand literature. Recently, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Listener sponsored the Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing, with prizes for both fiction and nonfiction. The 2007 theme was climate change, and Bryan Walpert wrote the winning fiction entry.

Now comes news that a forthcoming issue of the venerable Landfall magazine will be devoted to Utopian and dystopian fiction, poetry and essays. This announcement comes from the New Zealand Society of Authors:

Landfall 216 (November 2008), edited by Tim Corballis, will be on the theme of Utopias. Our past is scattered with visions of an ideal future - what is left of them? How do they look now?

Is our present made of the various, contradictory, failed efforts to realise them? And have we really given up on the hope of leaving something radically new to the future?

Utopian and dystopian fiction, poetry and essays should be sent to Tim at utopias (at) timcorballis.mailc.net by, or preferably well before, the end of June 2008.
Landfall 216 is also a Landfall Essay Competition issue.
For details, see http://www.otago.ac.nz/press/landfall/essaycompetition.html

Although the announcement doesn't say as much, utopian and dystopian fiction is also science fiction. When I started writing SF, I was told that there was no prospect of getting SF published in New Zealand, as literary magazines here wouldn't look at it. My own publication history for short fiction has shown that the barriers between literary fiction and science fiction were never so rigid; now it seems that the barriers are, slowly, dissolving away. That's good news from someone like me, who writes within both genres. I think it's good news for readers as well.

17 January 2008

Hone Tuwhare, 1922-2008

Hone Tuwhare died on 16 January in Dunedin. He was writing up to the day he died. He was a great New Zealand poet, spendidly independent of poetic schools, sects, factions, cabals and fashions. His inimitable voice will be sadly missed.

I didn't intend this blog to be a memento mori, but with the passing of Bernard Gadd, Meg Campbell, and now Hone Tuwhare, such it is turning out to be.

12 January 2008

Poem for a Windy Night

Wind Walks the Hand

Wind walks the hand over rooftops
searching for gaps.

Through the hole in the flashing
the neighbourhood cat

traps the neighbourhood rat
in our attic.

Cries, scuffles.
Drawn-out, messy death.

A ceiling below
we look up from Buffy and wonder.

This poem is included in my latest collection, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens.

08 January 2008


In my holidays, I discovered LibraryThing, which is a cross between a user-generated personal library cataloguing tool and a social networking site for book lovers. I then spent far too much time adding listings for books I own (or, in a few cases, don't own but have read). The worrying aspect of this is that I have 59 books listed in my library after my late-night efforts; many people have well upwards of 1000. You can list up to 200 books before having to pay to join, so I'll stealthily approach this limit and then decide whether I want to take my relationship with LibraryThing to the next level.

Every LT user gets a profile, and if you're an author, you can also have an author page. Since authors write books, and LT users enjoy and even buy books, creating an author profile makes sense to me - even if, with a name like Tim Jones, I will forever be embroiled in the toils of disambiguation.

Once you've loaded some of your books, there's plenty more to do - tagging the books, loading covers, giving ratings, and writing reviews (which seems to be one of the most pressing needs). And there's groups to be joined - "New Zealand Thingamabrarians", for example - and many wondrous highways and byways of literature to explore.

This is the sort of thing that only appeals to a certain personality type. But I have that personality type. You may have guessed that by now.