’Tis (past) that time of year again, when I sign off and say goodbye to one year, and try to remember where I kept the (metaphorical) party hat and streamers for welcoming in the new. Is it just me, or has this one gone by really really really fast?
It’s been a tough one. takahē has taken up a big chunk of my time – losing our CNZ funding, assisting with the new grant application (successful! Janet Wainscott, you are a genius!), dealing with the day-to-day matter of submissions and so on, and then redesigning the new takahē website. (Not really sure how that came down to me, but it did. And I’m quite pleased with the result, despite the inevitable teething problems.)
Oh, and then there was the small matter of the Earthquake Poetry Anthology, which is powering along furiously – we have a title (Out of the Red Zone) and a publisher (Clerestory Press) and have made our initial selections. Somewhat masochistically, we’re trying to get everything ready to launch on February 22nd 2016, which means the actual manuscript needs to be ready to hand to the printers by February 1st … so I’m going to be spending a very large chunk of the next two weeks at my computer, pouring over the manuscript and trying to sort out typos, editorial amendments, and all the other bits and pieces that go along with this sort of venture. Incidentally, if you are one one the poets involved and haven’t gotten back to us yet with your bio, you need to extract digit NOW. (Come on, it’s fifty words. You already have one you use for submissions, so tweak it and send it. Otherwise we’ll just go with your name, and where you live. Seriously.)
It’s been a year of bereavements – Helen Bascand, John O’Connor, Isabelle Hudson, and Greeba Bridges-Jones, from the local poetry community, as well as four others (from parts of my life that don’t get shared here). I’ve spent way too much of this year sobbing. And I am really crap at funerals. (Weddings too, but there haven’t been so many of them lately.) I know it’s easy to use Helen’s death as an excuse for not writing, but it’s true – I’ve managed to dribble out a few bits and pieces, but there’s a big, hollow, echoing space where my poetry comes from. It may be that I have to write my goodbye poem before anything else worthwhile will be able to come. And I’m not ready to face that one. I know exactly how it begins, and I know the shape and feel of it. But it hurts to think about it, and I just don’t feel brave enough to face that particular void just yet. Perhaps because that will be the last bit of clinging-on to her memory that I have: when I write that poem, she will definitely be dead, and I will be moving on. And I have to forgive her for dying first.
But I have written some good pieces this year. Only four completely new poems, but four that I feel quite pleased with. One of which has just been published in Poetry NZ, which pleases me greatly. Actually it’s been pretty good on the publication front for 2015 – two poems in Poetry NZ 50 (they don’t have the current issue up yet on their website, but go have a squizz anyway), two in JAAM 33, and one in Landfall 230. On top of that, Best New Zealand Poems 2014 has been translated into Chinese, so Earthrise is getting a second outing. (My first time being translated into another language.) I also managed to get a finalised version of The Ministry of Sorrow complete in time to submit for the earthquake anthology, which feels good. Time has helped with this one – I’ve been able to let some of the extra layers of it that weren’t quite working fall away – I can still see all the references to non-earthquake things in it, but they don’t make the poem hard for other people to follow. (Or at least, they haven’t seemed to do so for the people who have seen it so far.)
Time to sign off. Be good to yourselves and to each other this summeer. Read, write, and be gloriously, bookishly, idiosyncratically creative.