Ko Whitireia te maunga
Ko Porirua te moana
Ko Ngāti Toa Rangatira te iwi
Ko Whitireia te Kura Matatini
Nau mai, haere mai
e te hunga pānui, e!
Kia ora tātou ngā kaituhi, ngā kaipānui, ngā kaitautoko – welcome writers, readers and supporters to 4th Floor 2013.
One of the most astonishing and satisfying things about reading through this year’s 4th Floor selection again in the last few weeks (I love being a proofreader for it as well as its editor) has been noticing the impressive range of textures and voices represented here. This isn’t just because of the change in submission rules, but that definitely has something to do with it.
By way of explanation, 2013’s 4th Floor is substantially different from previous years’ editions, and not just because it’s more, well, substantial. This year marks the 20th anniversary of both Whitireia New Zealand’s creative writing programme and its publishing programme. Definitely worth celebrating, we thought. One of the ways we decided to do that was to invite submissions not only from alumni and staff of Whitireia, as we normally do, but from all interested writers. As a result we had over three times the usual number of submissions, and the final edition has over 120 separate poems and prose pieces. Insert fist-pump here!
John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary discusses the differences between ‘voice’ and ‘tone’ on the page: ‘… a poetic voice comprises many elements: diction (word choices), syntax (arrangement of words), attitudes, subject matter, rhythmic proclivities, line lengths, punctuation, the presence or absence of meter and rhyme, and especially the tone’ (pp. 342–3). The voices of characters speaking in a piece of poetry or prose also help to comprise the ‘voice’ of the author. Tone, on the other hand, is more to do with the ‘emotional spin’ of a piece, the ‘edge or attitude’ in the voice (p. 322).
There’s always been a wide span of both voice and tone in the 4th Floor, as there is with any anthology. This year, though, I feel it’s not just the voices, but the many different accents sounding through the collection that make it unique. The experience of reading the journal has been just as much one of hearing as seeing the words. I’m not quite sure whether it’s just because I’m a bit of a sound geek, or whether I have simply attributed the imagined dialects of the characters to their authors. Maybe it’s because I’m looking excitedly at the bios of the writers, and seeing that they hail from, descend from and/or live in Tokyo, Brisbane, Aro Valley, Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson, San Francisco, Santa Fe, the Waimakariri, Kāpiti, Wellington, Scotland, England, France, Te Āti Awa, Ngā Puhi, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-Tonga, Moravia, Pohnpei, Hawke’s Bay, Banaba/Kiribati/Hawaii/Fiji, Wairarapa, Virginia, Sāmoa, the Orkney Islands, Belarus, Brisbane, Melbourne, Greece, the Cook Islands, Denmark, Ireland, Banks Peninsula, the Hutt Valley, Hikurangi, the Bronx/Denver, the Horowhenua, Ohio, the Catlins/Ōtaki, Illinois, Palmerston North, Waikato and Cornwall. And that’s saying nothing of where the texts themselves are set, nor of the places from which the characters themselves emerge.
It’s not an exhaustive list, obviously, and I would dearly love to have more global and local voices making their various and wonderful noises in these digital pages as the years go by. But it does warm my heart and fire my spirit to think of 4th Floor as a place where people from so many cultural, geographical, political and metaphorical locations can meet and talk to us, and each other.
I’m not going to mention and link to all of the contributors this year as I usually do – there’s just too many of the blighters. But I do want to say that I am especially thrilled about some of the pieces you’re about to read. Tina Makereti has been generous enough to offer us some of her soon-to-be-published novel Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings. Charlotte Yates, Silver Scroll Award-nominated musician, producer and driving force behind the albums Baxter, Tuwhare and Ihimaera, appears in 4th Floor for the first time as the terrific lyricist she is. Visual and text artist and poet Sian Torrington has given us our first ever collage-art-poems. We feature, for the first time, a mother-and-daughter pair of poets, Siobhan and Rose Collins. And as we go to press, news has just come through that one of our tutor-contributors, and former 4th Floor editor, Mandy Hager, has won one of New Zealand’s most prestigious writer’s residencies, the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, which will see her spending 2014 in Menton, France. I take this opportunity to thank all of the fantastic writers who’ve contributed their particular frequencies to 4th Floor 2013. It truly is a stonker.
Once again, I acknowledge the outstanding work done on 4th Floor by the Whitireia publishing students. This year, the journal has been copy-edited and published by Matariki Williams, Rachel Nobilo and Rebecca Thorne, with additional poster and flyer artwork by Abby Aitcheson (thank you, Abby!). A huge mihi to all of you for your great work, and to Rachel Lawson, Mary-Jane Duffy and all the creative writing and publishing programme tutors, mentors and students, past and present, for their ongoing support and contributions.
Editor, 4th Floor 2013