4th Floor Literary Journal

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4th Floor Journal

This week, I had the pleasure of participating in the live launch of 4th Floor journal. It is the first time that I’ve been able to attend the actual launch. It was upstairs on the first floor of the Wellington Whitireia Campus and hubby was nonplussed in the lift, having assumed the 4th Floor, meant the fourth floor!

Lynn Jenner was the guest editor for the journal and it was very nice to finally meet her. She was so enthusiastic about the work of all the contributors. I found myself sitting next to the fabulous Renée Taylor and in the very good company of Adrienne Jansen and Jane Blaikie, who were tutors at Whitiriea when I completed the Advanced Fiction Diploma some years ago.

Adrienne read her terrific series of poems titled ‘Local’ about her observations while catching the bus and developing stories for the characters she saw. It’s a delicious poem kicking off with the opening line

She balances the tray of eggs

on her fingertips, just like a waiter.

I particularly liked these lines from the poem ‘At the Exhibition’ by Jane Blaikie.

It’s as simple as that, although as must be clear

to us all by now that love and simple are unrelated.

Renée read from her poem ‘Outside the Sun is Shining’

I wanted to post an excerpt from Renée’s poetry here, but the blog format won’t let me scan the full line, so instead I will post a link so you can go right on over to the 4th Floor Literary Journal and read it for yourself (which is partly the point of this blog anyway).

I am a big fan of Renée’s writing and will never forget the performance of her play ‘Wednesday to Come’ at Downstage on the 20th anniversary of its first performance.

I love being part of this prestigious journal alongside such esteemed good company. This year the likes of Elizabeth Smither, Lynn Davidson, Pip Adam, Natasha Dennerstein, Vivienne Plumb and Mercedes Webb-Pullman, to name just a few that I know. Mercedes was unable to attend the launch and I had the privilege of reading two of her poems. I’m always enjoy poetry, so it was a pleasure.

Here’s a couple of lines to tempt you from ‘Are all the pilots down’

through dark clouds colder than ice

into the peace of stars

then vanish where all pilots go

finally home to the sky.

I also really like the poetry of Helen Lehndorf and had planned to post an excerpt from her poetry but alas, I seem unable to retain the right line breaks and so instead, I will send you over to the 4th Floor Journal to read ‘So much white noise’. I can’t resist quoting this perfect question from the poem…

and how can you trust a man without a story?

The most affecting moment of the live launch was the reading of the poem ‘Exceeding Expectations’. I urge you to go on over to the 4th Floor and read this evocative, heart-rending poem. It’s a father son kind of poem and written by Brandon Mehertens who is autistic and unable to speak – a friend read the poem for him. As a poem it sure packs a punch.

Lastly, there is my own poem. I’m very happy this year with my contribution. It is my very first sestina. I find that the villanelle and the sestina allow the writer to traverse tricky topics without becoming maudlin or over- sentimental. This poem, titled ‘Ngawhatu’, is about the psychiatric hospital in Nelson and my memories of it during the 50’s and 60’s – prompted by a recent visit to Nelson about which I have already blogged.

Here’s a teaser line or two for you:

if you’re not careful, shit a brick, you’ll end up there

What’s up there? But no one speaks, it’s all unspoken

get off the grass and up your arse with superstition

hoodackie, thingummybob, bite your bum thoughts

These lines were tweeted and a few of my friends made the comment that they couldn’t imagine these words coming out of my mouth – I rather like that – and yes they did!

Finally, it must be said, that the contributors owe a debt of gratitude to the Whitireia publishing team for all their work behind the scenes, tweaking, editing, putting the final touches to line breaks, mistakes and both querying spelling and author intent.

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