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Introduction 2011


Ko Whitireia te maunga
Ko Porirua te moana
Ko Ngāti Toa te iwi
Ko Whitireia te Kura Matatini

Nau mai, haere mai, hoki mai ki te kāinga o te kupu! A warm welcome to 4th Floor 2011, presenting new writing by the students, tutors and mentors of Whitireia New Zealand’s writing programme.

This edition marks a unique moment for 4th Floor, because not only are we launching this 2011 edition of the online journal, we have also produced our very first anthology of selections from past editions. And not only that! We are publishing the anthology in ebook format. This ebook 4th Floor Since ’05 includes poetry and prose from 2005 through to 2010, and is available for free download. We hope you enjoy this retrospective, as well as this year’s new work.

My decision-making process when choosing pieces for 4th Floor is nothing mysterious: Is it good writing? Is it reader-friendly on screen? Do the separate pieces play well with each other? What has struck me about 2011’s 4th Floor is not so much that there are overarching themes which draw the pieces together, albeit slightly artificially. Rather, I was impressed by the variety of subject matters, perspectives, characters and writing styles.

In other words, I am delighted by just how much the individual works differ from each other this time, and by the lively frisson that’s created when they’re gathered together. Believe it or not, it’s because of Twitter that I have become so aware of this during the editing of this particular edition.

In the past two years we have promoted the journal through posting excerpts on Twitter. For those unfamiliar with it, this microblogging site allows you to post comments of up to 140 characters, which become visible to anyone who ‘follows’ you. Choosing which line, phrase or sentence would be the best ‘tweet’ for each writer is an exacting science. Each tweet needs to whet a reader’s appetite enough to click through to the journal and continue reading. I try to choose tweets that also capture the essence of the piece as a whole.

It’s a challenge. Some excerpts are entirely perfect except, for example, that they run to 143 characters. Twitter is entirely unforgiving here – 140 or bust. Other possible tweets appeal to my own slightly abstract tastes, but I figure they may not appeal to the general tweet-reading public.

After much painstaking character-counting (thank you MS Word), some fantastic examples emerged for this year’s Twitter list. They were duly collated into one long document and sent to the authors for their approval. I must say that as I read them all one after the other in that format, it was like reading a new, strange long-form poem, interrupted by names and ‘Coming Soon!’ and the ubiquitous Twitter hashtags. As I thought further about this idea, I began to think about all those people who don’t use Twitter – wouldn’t they also like to read this emerging new text?

Perhaps this year’s 4th Floor writers will forgive me if I make this whole idea a little more explicit and sign off with the offering below. It’s a found poem, using tweets sourced from some of the wonderful writers in this year’s edition. It seemed to fall naturally into couplets, but it could just as easily be read as several separate two-line poems.

Many thanks, ngā mihi mahana, to Whitireia publishing students Lianna Gonlag, Lauren Rogers Paretoa and Sara Bryan for their work in copy-editing, content-managing and publishing this site, and to Rachel Lawson who wrangled us all so brilliantly. The team also thanks Pip Byrne, Lynn Davidson, Mary-Jane Duffy, Tim Renner, Jo Prestwood and Tamati Kaa for their ongoing support of this project.

Enjoy, and thank you for visiting 4th Floor!


Hinemoana Baker



The mouth, he explains, just gets / in the way, the mouth does almost nothing
Ten minutes later it all ended in a frenzy of teeth and tusks.


Their dresses are bright. / They rake leaves from graves in a front yard
At the sink, a woman washes potatoes. With her knife, she gouges their eyes.


The travelling salesman persuaded her
She listens to the messages / and, whammo, does she go ballistic!


Will she turn into a tree? We look up from / our community gardening
—see her fall through the stage door / reassembled, barely Aurora


Her father disapproved of decay
she’s out / in the garden barefoot in the Hellebores


fine-fingered on the quarter-tone and tasting of / peanut, candlenut, coconut
the quandong of the sun! / the nectarine showers of the sky!

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