'NZTOTSN' is an exploration of placeness and of belonging and non-belonging to a place. This project imitates the poems of Adam Warne’s pamphlet length Suffolk Bang; but where Warne writes about rural Suffolk where he comes from, I am writing about Nelson in New Zealand, where I have been attempting to settle as an immigrant. The style is fragmented yet uncannily coherent nonetheless, the character of the place and the lyric subject’s being in that place emerge as the result of an accumulative effect, where both place and lyric subject are found in the interstices between apocryphal fragments. I've found myself at the mercy of chaotic forces, events and spaces that constantly pass over and through this thing called Nelson, but I've also found myself using that same material to hack out a space for myself. It feels like a fight, where to fight is to constantly expose myself as outsider.
This voice has been especially easy to slip into, as if the lingering disquiet of a coalesced place is the same regardless of location, though characteristically unique to each location. The action of being alternately abjected and claimed through a sort of cosmic process, might also be common, at the very least between me and Adam, as two friends and poets concerned, for now, with places. Though I've noticed just how strongly our different characters and attitudes towards the world assert themselves. While Adam and I are probably just as sad as each other, I'm angrier, meaner. Adam admirably maintains his lamb-like softness, like leaves quietly mulching (we also share a common love of Monty Don) but I am so easily disenfranchised, cornered and overwhelmed by my situation in the world. We seem to both inhabit the world nervously, but as such different people, in different ways, alone but not.
Poems from 'NZTOTSN' have been published in Kiss Me Hardy, a Nelson-based arts journal. Read them below.
Flesh is a furious shore
translated by Brian Holton and Agnes Hung-Chong Chan