Editor's Message

Kia hiwi rā! Ka tangi te tītī, ka tangi te kākā, ka tangi hoki ngā tāngata nei – me kii, ko ngā kaiwhakatairanga i te kupu. Welcome to this year’s edition of the electronic journal of the Whitireia Polytechnic Creative Writing Programme, 4th Floor.

From the unfurling mystery of Anahera Gildea’s story Collectors to the easy, poignant narrative of Rob Hack’s Raro poem, this year’s 4th Floor  has, as they say, something for everyone. As it usually does, the journal features fiction and poetry from past and present students of the programme – a showcase of the skilled and talented graduates we as staff have been fortunate enough to spend some creative time with.

If I had to draw out any overarching motif from the collection we’ve wrangled here, it could be the notion of relationship: how we live and interact in the world with others, friends and strangers, whānau. Lynn Jenner’s The Look and Feel of 1963 offers a curling-at-the-edges image of a picnicking family group, ‘mountains, / tall girls at the back…’. Anna Stevens, too, writes about a picnic – hers involving a gorgeously decrepit metaphor-cum-bicycle.

Kevin Johnston’s snapshot of a writing class plays with language and memory, re-prioritising what’s important by experimenting with capital letters, and confounding our expectations of what we will and won’t find out from eavesdropping on the thoughts of his writer characters. Raschel-Miette evokes a suburban 70s childhood: ‘…the falling down house with yellowed newspapered walls and / empties growling on its floor…’.

Shelley Vernon’s poetic reach, at least the one reflected here, is a global one, where characters interact on the streets of Chiang Mai and Surry Hills, eat kumara and falafel and quail. Web-writing enthusiast Iona Woodward draws a warm portrait of two men snatching moments of intimacy from busy lives, not entirely sure where it will take them.

Bill Nelson and Samiha Radcliffe’s beautifully eliptical poems are a welcome workout for our imaginative muscles, doing what poetry does best: unlocking the senses, tipping our point-of-view axis by a couple of degrees, engaging our minds as well as our hearts, making us smile to ourselves. Samiha Radcliffe and Lynn Jenner, as well as being graduates of Whitireia, are 2008 members of the International Institute of Modern Letters’ masters programme at Victoria University.

Tusiata Avia is perhaps one of Whitireia’s most well-known graduates. Her work has been published and translated in New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Hawai’i, Israel and USA. She has performed her show Wild Dogs Under My Skirt around the world and was shortlisted for the 2006 Prize in Modern Letters. Her Nafanua poem is a cry from another world at the same time as being a gritty resistance to romantic or ‘new age’ visions of motherhood.

There are other poems and stories here which point up some difficult, sad things about family. Anahera Gildea’s resort, Cushla Managh’s Bridie’s scrapbook and Mikaela Nyman’s Twins all have something to say about the darknesses of life as a parent or as a child. These authors render this material in compelling, very readable ways, inflecting the grief with a combination of humour, joy, awe, sometimes just the the being alive of it all. Keeping it, as it were, real.

While many of the writers in this year’s edition of 4th Floor have been published before, there are a significant number of first timers and emerging talents. This is one of the things that makes this journal such a taonga for me as an editor. Kyla-Jane Rajah, Pip Aanensen and Kevin Johnston, Simon Todd, Vivienne Hill and Samiha Radcliffe have, I’m sure, wonderful writing years ahead of them, and I’m delighted that through 4th Floor I’ve been able to be a small part of that. Nau mai, haere mai koutou – welcome.

4th Floor would not be possible without the hard work of the Whitireia publishing students, in particular Rob O’Shea and Holly Brown, who copy-edited, content-managed and published the site. Thanks also to Kiri Saul for her early work on the journal, to John Huria of Ahi Text Solutions, to Lian Hathaway for technical training and support. Gratitude also to Ann Tucker, tutor of the Whitireia Publishing Programme, to Chandrika Patel and Gillian Longley for campus facility support, and to Pip Byrne and Lynn Davidson of the Creative Writing Programme.

The team would like to make special mention of the authors for their wonderful writing, and for their prompt and professional feedback to any editing suggestions – it all made our role so much more rewarding and straightforward.


Mauri ora!


Hinemoana Baker