I have to admit I was a little surprised to get the call-up (All Blacks style) from BMP's National Selector Doug Poole in Auckland to edit his on-line zine Blackmail Press. I mean considering when we first met (at Seeing Voices festival in September 2002), I had called him an Australian. He had been publishing so many poets from over the ditch that I thought surely Blackmail Press was another Oz poetry site? Luckily he forgave me (see his editorial to BMP 11), and so here I am writing an editorial to his e-zine and puffing myself up as Guest Poetry Editor.
I suppose, however, having edited JAAM and many anthologies I should be the man for the job, but it is always nice to be asked to edit someone else's publication.
For this issue particularly I have been strongly influenced by my recent work on two International Poetry Festivals in Wellington (organised by Ron Riddell and Saray Torres) and by my appearances at two Queensland Poetry Festivals in Brisbane (co-directed by Brett Dionysius and Melissa Ashley). By attending and helping with these festivals I have expanded my poetry horizons ever further and have made many friends and contacts. Some of them appear here in BMP 12 as well as some other newer contacts I have made simply through the World Wide Web and email correspondence.
I am delighted then to introduce to New Zealand and overseas readers of BMP the work of such leading world poets as Saadi Yousef, Adam Wiedemann, Andres Ehin and Peter Cooley. These poets are all gifted and powerful writers in their individual styles and seem to me to be producing some of the strongest poetry in world literature. Alongside them I am pleased to feature many equally exciting but lesser known world poets, poets from Singapore and Australia like Brentley Frazer, Ken Bolton, Ouyang Yu, Cyril Wong, Hsien Min Toh and Paul Hardacre. All these poets have been producing energetic work not only with their poetry but also as editors of their various on-line, print and CD ROM publications like softblow, Otis Rush, Otherland, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, papertiger and Retort.
It's certainly a formidable International 15, then, and coming up alongside them is our very own New Zealand 15.
In featuring local poets, I consciously sought out poets who have not appeared in BMP before. As well, I wanted diversity and pluralism in age, gender and styles. There's certainly a rich mix of talent here. The wit of Anna Jackson and Vivienne Plumb, the raw, hard-hitting energy of Scott Kendrick and Linzy Forbes, the craft-based approach of Leonard Lambert and Michael Harlow, and the lyrical and imaginative intensity of Jenny Powell-Chalmers or Jeanne Bernhardt are in stark contrast to the romantic and softly-sweet Spoken Word of Rosebud or the rhyming prosody of New Zealand's very own epic writer F W N Wright. This is as it should be. No poetic style rules in the world of poetry and no literary or academic canon can obscure the many and various forms being written.
All in all the two 15s form a rich tapestry, a vibrant assortment of world poetry today. Let the issue begin.