By international standards all New Zealand publishing is small press publishing. The country is home to only 4.73 million people. If a significant proportion of the adult population supports the authors of cookery and gardening books, such enthusiasm rarely extends to buying titles by novelists, playwrights, and poets.
I began this three-month commentary post series with a question as to whether there is or could be an Aotearoa poetic.
I noted back then that I had modified my stance so as to say there seemed to be so many poetry scenes within the country of New Zealand, some thriving, some growing, and one still dominant, that there could not be a single identifiable Aotearoa poetic. I have had no reason to alter this viewpoint as the series went on, only — in fact — to say now even more clearly, that New Zealand has several divergent poetics, not always empathetic to one another …
There are the experimentalists, both within and outside a textual framework. Then there are the poetry slam competitors, whereby orality is king. There are burgeoning Pasifika and Asian groupings, depicting their own tropes and utilising their own languages. There are the fighting small presses and periodicals, staunchly keeping open the possibilities of a poet being published at all, while some more off-the-wall publications — such as Cats & Spaghetti Press — are striving to sustain deep diversity.