Indie Publishing Roundup Spring 2017
Indie: A small independent; unaffiliated; an obscure form of art which one learns about from someone slightly hipper than oneself. Here’s the quarterly Pantograph roundup of what’s happening in Aotearoa New Zealand indie publishing.
I picked up a copy of the issue three of Ora Nui in a bookstore the other day. It's Aotearoa’s only Māori literary journal, and issue three is sharply produced and packed with prose, poetry, art, and photography.
The issue has the title 'Going Global' because as well as Māori contributors, writers and artists from Europe ponder issues of identity, migration, diversity, and nationhood. Contributors include Lisa Reihana, Paula Morris, Amy Leigh Wicks, Briar Wood, Kiri Piahana-Wong, Grant Kingi and many more! This is really something special.
We're excited about the debut collection from Nina Powles, one of the most compelling young voices in New Zealand poetry. We published her poem 'The Great Wall' as part of Spec-Fic Month. Seraph Press books are like art objects; Luminescent is made up of five colourful chapbooks (two pictured above) that are gathered together in a cover evocative of the night-sky.
Powles' poetry is also something to behold: intellectual and moving; utterly contemporary, but with a deep connection to the past. Each chapbook loosely explores the life of a New Zealand woman, from celebrated writer Katherine Mansfield and cosmologist Beatrice Tinsley, to a possibly fictional school ghost and ill-fated dancer Phyllis Porter who died after her dress caught fire onstage at Wellington’s Opera House. Luminescent is a beautiful thing.
I've been waiting for Michalia Arathimos' debut novel for some time. She's a Greek-New Zealand writer who lives in Melbourne and works for Melbourne magazine Overland, but is originally from New Zealand. She has written prize-winning short stories and essays, which often are about characters whose voices are invisible in society.
Aukati follows the story of Alexia, a law student escaping the Greek family that stifles her, and Isaiah, a young Māori man returning home to find the family he’s lost. Cut loose from their own cultures, they have volunteered to help Isaiah’s Taranaki iwi get rid of the fracking that’s devastating their land and water. The deeper Alexia and Isaiah go into the fight, the closer they get to understanding the different worlds they inhabit. My prediction: you'll see this novel on the next Ockhams' longlist.
I find it hard to go past the texture and detail of small-run designer-printed books, and Some Eels by Amelia Harris is damn cute. The story is about three eels who head upstream for an adventure, and while it's publicised as a children's book, we all know children's books are equally for adults.
Index Press is the publishing department of an Auckland based graphic design studio run by Jonty Valentine and Amy Yalland. Their publishing centres around their two Risograph stencil printers, an RP3700 and an MZ1070 (here's a cool piece on why designers like the Riso so much). They are interested in developing a content-driven and collaborative approach to publishing that explores the aesthetics of production. Some Eels is printed in three colours on the Risograph, and with an edition of only 200, signed by the artist.
Cloud Ink Press
Set amidst the physical and psychological landscapes of New Zealand's southern hills and grasslands, Beneath Pale Water by Thalia Henry is a social realist and expressionistic novel that follows a triangle of three damaged individuals – a sculptor, a vagrant and a model – who have grown calcified shells against the world. Their search for identity and belonging leads them into dangerous emotional territory. Henry's debut novel is published by Cloud Ink Press, a releatively new group in Auckland whose purpose is to create a press outside the main-stream publishing process.
Thalia Henry grew up in Karitane, and her novel was in part inspired by the landscapes of the rugged South Island high country where she spent time as a teenager. In 2008 she was awarded a place in the Dunedin Write Out Loud Festival for her play Powdered Milk, and Beneath Pale Water extends the narrative of that play. She's definitely one to watch.
White City is a collection of short stories by David Lyndon Brown set mostly in and around Auckland’s Albert Park, but even those stories that travel far away from the park seem subtly inhabited by its breezes, colours, shadows and sounds. The colleciton is published by Titus Books, who need a freaking round of applause for publishing indie authors since 2005. Brown treats his characters with clear-eyed generosity, but never condescension: they are often resourceful, though lacking in resources, and tender, if tenuous connections are made between characters that are not firmly connected to the mainstream grid. Poet Bob Orr writes, 'In succinct, streetwise but beautifully crafted prose, Brown gives a voice to those in society who are seldom heard.' Nice one.