01 June 2008

Poetry in the mail: broadsheet and Papyri

Recently I received two cool poetry things in the post.

The first was the first issue of broadsheet: new new Zealand poetry. This is a new twice-yearly poetry journal, published by Mark Pirie. As he explains in his preface, last year he printed a number of single broadsheets with poems by people such as Meg Campbell, Michael O’Leary and Basim Furat. They were very pretty and very cool, so am disappointed that he wasn’t able to get them stocked in bookshops.

But instead, Mark has collected them together, with a few poems by other writers, into this new journal. It’s invitation only at present, so he won’t be reading submissions. It will soon be available from independent bookshops, but also via HeadworX.

You won’t be able to see from the pic quite how gorgeous Papyri is, but take my word for it. The red text on the cover is hand printed, it’s hand bound with red thread, and is on textured creamy paper. As soon as I opened the envelope, I felt an overwhelming urge to publish lots of chapbooks (Scarab being my only chapbook so far).

Papyri: love poems & fragments from Sappho and elsewhere, by Jack Ross, was published by Michael Steven’s Soapbox Press. (I met Michael, quite serendipitously on my trip to Auckland in February.) Jack Ross described the poems as ‘versions of Sappho’ . They're reworked translations with a nice, poised but contemporary voice to them. Compare, for example this version of a poem translated by William Harris:

I just really want to die.
She, crying many tears, left me
And said to me:
“Oh, “how terribly we have suffered, we two,
Sappho, really I don't want to go away.” And I said to her this:
Go and be happy, remembering me,

to Jack Ross’s version:

I’m sure
I want to die

She left me in floods of tears
Sappho, I feel like such a bitch

but I’ve got to go
Go if you want to
I replied

but think of me

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