It’s summer, at least in the southern hemisphere, and this issue is in some respects our lightest and heaviest to date—lighter in tone, heavier in your hands.
Work comes once again from diverse sources; from previous contributors, wildcard submissions, from graduates of creative writing schools, and poets working after-hours. ‘Firsts’ for us include the visual piece by Dan Nash, the translation by Chris Holdaway, and the short essay by David Merritt—things we would like to do more of. At the time of writing, we are also working to record Birds by Ross Brighton, read in its entirety to complement the excerpted version printed here. With luck this will soon be available on our website (minaretsjournal.com)
This recording is a timely addition in light of Merritt’s essay, Nature of the reading, which considers the meaning of the ‘poetry reading’ in the modern age. The emerging US poet Steve Roggenbuck, through his energetic style of delivery and prolific use of the internet, also asks some significant questions about traditional modes of experience and distribution. Merritt doubts that the poet should be able to dictate which emotions the audience hears, “What’s the ‘right’ order of works in the procession of mixing it up? Not too many sad poems in a row, be funny but not all the time, wistful, humane, angry—whatever.”
Ordering works is a problem that we, as editors, grapple with on a regular basis. Like Merritt, we try for some semblance of cohesion while emphasising variety, collecting or separating pieces based on length, genre, density, geography. The problem is thrown further into the light as the quantity, variety, and quality of the material available to us increases. Themes emerge.
There are people kissing everywhere, littering pages like couples in a park. They kiss in bed, on steps, by rivers, in the rain, in a lake, in their dreams. Youthful affirmations of hope and positivity exist in tension with possibility—time paradoxes, foam beaches, a whole town that shifts a couple of metres—and the question of whether or not it can last. Darker images occasionally cloud the love and wonder, as we are reminded of the dangers of jet skis, corn mazes, living rooms, and firemen. A man has disturbing recollections above his ‘ocean backyard’. This issue contains at least one dead cat.
And there is a strong contingent of work built on degrees of word-play that may lift and entertain us, or even deny the syntax of the ‘real world’ altogether. We may not know what the ‘right’ order of works is in any situation—reading or journal—but we are enriched by the absurd.
We hope readers will share our enthusiasm for this collection.
Lauren Strain (Auckland, NZ / London, UK) is the founding editor of min-a-rets. She holds an Honours degree in history from the University of Auckland, & works as a policy adviser in London.