Writers bring a breath of fresh air in Turbine | Kapohau 2021

This year’s issue of Turbine | Kapohau, the annual online literary journal from Te Pūtahi Tuhi Auahua o Te Ao—International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), is now live.

The journal showcases exciting new poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction from members of the MA (Creative Writing) workshops of the IIML at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington. Their work features alongside other emerging and established writers in a vibrant selection exploring themes of belonging, emotional connection, loss, and liminal spaces. Fiction by the newly announced 2021 Adam Foundation Prize winner, Sharron Came, appears in the issue.

Senior Lecturer Chris Price says, “In the face of lockdown challenges, creative roadblocks and other crises, all of the writers in the 2021 MA (Page) programme have emerged tired but triumphant, with completed manuscripts in hand.”

The sense of living between a surreal past and an unknown future that has pervaded 2021 infuses much of the journal’s fiction with imaginative strangeness. Stephen Woods gives us a sunset that burns with faraway bushfires; Michaela Tempany, a house filled with story; and Phoebe Wright tucks magic into cabinets. Harry Goddard wages a war against feral cats, Kathryn van Beek finds an affinity with a lost baby hedgehog, and Tara Black—in her hauntingly poignant comic—gives us something about bats.

Several creative non-fiction pieces share the sense of being trapped in limbo. Nkhaya Paulsen-More’s essay captures the life of a “third culture kid” growing up between Aotearoa and South Africa, and Flora Feltham imagines herself as a medieval anchoress about to be walled in. And an obituary prompts Helena Wiśniewka Brow to recall a #metoo moment from her working life.

Turbine | Kapohau received over 300 poetry submissions this year. Many in the final selection explore the unexpected ways distance and closeness tinge daily life. Wes Lee and Claire Orchard speak to the gaps and mysteries in families and neighbourhoods, while Jiaqiao Liu circles intimacy and distance in an extended family WeChat, and Leah Dodd longs to change places with a possum. Many poems, like those of Jordan Hamel, Rachel Trow, and Dani Yourukova, grapple with ideas of authenticity and identity. There are yeti, hipsters, hentai, career advice, and a house of hara.

The journal also features an interview with Creative New Zealand/Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington Writer in Residence 2021 novelist Dr Pip Adam, whose conversation with Callum Knight delves into questions of genre, gender, and the strange pleasures of the ugly sentence.

The ‘Reading Room’ extracts from MA workshop members’ reading journals offer glimpses of what drives their writing behind the scenes. As Maggie Sturgess observes in a final entry, “It is strange to think of myself as a writer now, to grab hold of that aspect of myself and really pay attention to it. To give that part space and time and water and sun.”

Turbine | Kapohau 21 was edited by 2021 IIML workshop members Zoe Higgins, Joe Parker, and Charlotte Doyle. It can be viewed at: http://turbinekapohau.org.nz/