Editorial – Issue 17

Colin James: New fizz 

This issue leads with two reviews of Laura Ranger. That is not because she is a curiosity, 10 years old and an accurate poet. It is because her first slim volume is the best book we had available to review.

Harvey McQueen finds no word out of place or surplus. Three young contemporaries (in a remarkable all-their-own-work contribution) say her poems “make sense and are easy to read”.

Those two qualities together quickly made Ranger’s collection something of a craze. Poetry, even “easy” poetry, is supposed to sell in dribbles; she sells like an All Black star. What on earth is happening to our culture?

A great deal, as B W Oliver reminds us subtly in his commentary on the Crown Proposals for settling treaty claims. In the past 10 years the single nation we used to celebrate in anticipation of our freedom from British tutelage has gone forever. In its place is a struggle to comprehend justice and identity, the title a collection of essays we will review in the May issue.

Michael Cullen, joining debate with Simon Upton, says the earth has moved and that thinking people move with it: there is not much point rowing furiously where the tide has gone out.

What has changed? There is still racing and beer, as Piet de Jong reminds us (though rugby, smug and old-fashioned for too long, is in jeopardy). But the beer is not the same, with fancy new labels and styles. Thank god.


Sorry this issue was late: For reasons explained in a letter to subscribers this issue is a full month late. The June issue will be on time.

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