Welcome to Turbine 2015: The Same Space
““I know nothing about the world. I only know that I yearn for it, that I cannot touch anything, that I am impossibly thin and only dream of adding some substance. I dream it only because of the word “dream”. If any word can dream, “dream” can. I long for the ability to speak of something. It is an experience of prison.”
— Tim Corballis as a machine in ‘Zero Interview’
“No wonder the memory was dreamlike. The song itself is a dream.”
— Nick Bollinger, ‘Play Nasty for Me’ from Goneville
It’s not that there are no connections between the pieces. It’s just, wouldn’t you rather view this as an explosion than a container?
There are questions in this issue. Attempts at connecting. Attempts, by us, at connecting these pieces, at justifying our decisions?
Good writing makes us forget.
It makes us forget where we’re sitting or what we’re doing because it pulls us into another space. Observing turns to absorbing, and suddenly our eyes are not just following lines on paper but retiring to our minds where scope is as wide as the author cares to zoom – Otago University Library or Cupid’s Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.
Good writing makes us remember.
It makes us remember the things that make us human: the need to believe that, on your wedding day, life will always be as wonderful as it is in this moment – and no Elvis impersonator should tell you otherwise; or that, when we cease to exist, the things we look after will too – so we need to dig and sow and live for as long as we can, before we go; or how certain songs (like books) are time machines, echoing with memories like the first time they were played to an empty hall.
A wise woman once told me this: literature can be defined, quite simply, as writing that transcends time, words that we want to revisit over and over again because they are remarkable places to be. All of the pieces we chose for Turbine this year made us forget, and remember, and want to return.
We wanted to publish work we loved. So we did that.
“On our wedding night he took off my dress and I was wearing another dress underneath. He took off my shoes and I was wearing another pair of shoes underneath.”
— Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle, ‘set store by’
“a reminder that the outer edge
of anything is all
we ever see.”
— Gregory O’Brien, ‘Whangarei head, 1981’
I am moving to America in 15 days. My visa will last 12 months. I have a 28 day grace period before it begins to enter the country. I have a 30 day grace period after it ends to leave the country. If I want to stay longer I will have to get married.
Is 15 any more important than the numbers that came before it?
It is the 12th time I have moved in 10 years, across three countries. Two husbands, two divorces.
I got the call at 6:05 a.m. Incredibly banal; embarrassing. I was embarrassed for him. Embarrassed by the clumsiness of this act, and the frailty of his body. Preparing for the hospital, I dressed in his clothes. His jersey, his socks, his hoodie. Deep pockets to bury my hands.
What if he’d died falling down stairs? It’s so stupid. And where do we go from here?
“Any story once told becomes only a story, he said. What does it matter how much is true?”
— Johnny McCaughan, from East Inhuman West
“It takes centuries, more than lives,
and who knows the difference between loss and accrual
over so much time?”
— Vona Groarke, ‘Stone Trees’
These are generous works. Generous writers. Generous acts.
Someone hangs from an underpass to write messages of love. A man makes a buttplug out of a postbox. Handwriting appears in an old book, alluding to Dylan, “still alive with possibility.” Fake aunts write letters from the equator. A woman talks to a road. A woman struggles against ants. A woman stores her fingernail clippings in a plastic bag. Icebergs melt.
We don’t have the answers. We prefer to deal in questions. We prefer uncertainty. Sometimes. Not always.
We try our best.
“We keep what we can of the people we love.”
— Hannah Mettner, ‘The proof of a lady’