Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Landfall 216: Utopias

Landfall 216
, edited by Wellington writer Tim Corballis, is about ‘Utopias’.

Its front cover features a motorway in Seoul now transformed into an urban walkway and park. The issue suggests thart in reflecting on our future (or futures) we should think of history as a messy accumulation of partly realised visions of the future, rather than as a sequence of events.
This may take us to some surprising places. Read Gregory O’Brien on ‘The Utopian Hamiltonians’ or John Horrocks on ‘Carterton - Utopia Bypassed’, for example.
One reflects on what was and what might have been in Damian Skinner’s essay on Theo Scoon, and Lisa Samuels’ excerpt from her book-length poem Tomorrowland.

And there are essays by two West Coast American theorists, along with a review of Denis Glover’s ‘The Magpies’ by Margaret Mahy (pic left).

Felicitously, the Utopian theme is continued into the titles of the joint winners of the Landfall Essay Competition, announced in this issue: ‘Several Small Gulls Struggle to Find Footing on NZ & Elsewhere’ by Alice Miller and ‘The New Colonists’ by Kirsten Warner. Judge Martin Edmond remarks that these essays shared ‘anxiety about the future; a preoccupation with questions of identity...; a pervasive sense of the conditional nature of things.’

Also announced in what is a bumper issue of Landfall is the winner of The Kathleen Grattan Award for a collection of poetry. This was judged by Fleur Adcock, who chose Joanna Preston’s ‘The Summer King’. Preston will receive $16,000 in this major new award. There were three runners-up in this competition: Mary Cresswell, James Norcliffe, and Rob Egan.

Tim Corballis is a fiction writer with an interest in people and place. His three novels Below (2001), Measurement (2002), and The Fossil Pits (2005) explore related themes.
He is a graduate of Victoria University’s Creative Writing Programme and held the 2005 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency.
Corballis describes his work in Below and in more recent projects as “ a sort of landscape writing which moves beyond issues of national identity and into issues of personal identity. That is, in the relationship between a person and their place, in ways this effects connections with others, with ourselves, our histories, our memories – not as New Zealanders, but as people.”
Corballis was a member of the Montana NZ Book Awards judging panel this year which controversely announced an abbreviated fiction shortlist.

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