blackmail press 44 introduction - Megan Carter

How does one select a poem?  Let’s not worry about rhyme scheme, form, all the rules around structure…  Is it doing the work the work the poet intended?  How can we know the poet’s intention ?

The words are there, but the digestion, the interpretation lies elsewhere, somewhere where culture, and personal history, experience, meets intellect. How does one intuit, interpret a poem? What does it really mean? All we can ask is if the piece is doing some work on the reader.  For me, poems are sensory stories. They elicit emotion, a memory, or maybe sometimes an image of an unknown place filled with a story seen and felt through someone else’s eyes. A poem can allow us to see the world through another lens, feel through another’s skin. And that is the work I was seeking. I wanted to have my senses engaged. I wanted to experience, and I wanted to bear witness. So I read poems. Over two hundred of them. Some poems brought the taste of sucking salty pebbles to my tongue. The smell of unstable polymers of vinyl car seats, or the sharp radiant heat of a tin letterbox,  baking in the hot light of memory.  Anxious motherhood moments were sweetened with the soft sour tang of a new-born’s  hair.  Some poems sang simple lullabies, others heralded the arrival of emotional poignancy like footsteps on gravel. Some blistered  light with sudden shadow. Some roared fury and flicked butts at us who dared not stop to listen. Some chanted so repetitively that a binary summary of the cosmos enveloped me. Some told stories of anguish with grace so nuanced I felt I was watching events unfold as if floating on air. Considered cultural dialogue came embodied in illustration as lush as cut silk. Single lines made me laugh with pure joy that someone had thought to put those words in that sequence. I drowned and floated and soared with story as they unwrapped their mysteries.  If you are included in this collection it is because I had sat alongside you, breathed your breath, felt the weight of every word as it fell upon the page.

Thank you Doug,  for inviting me to this place, this pulse. And thank you to every poet who submitted work for consideration. I had to have a system. One poet one poem. 2020 , 40 works. And now 2021 so one more , 41 . So for those who submitted five works, they were all read, and the selection of one was agonising. If your work has not been included here, it is no reflection of the courage you have exhibited, the craft you have exercised or the moment you have illustrated with a simple selection of your words. Every work illuminated thought I had never had before, or enflamed a sense of connection. Poetry enables us to share our moments, our truths. If I can borrow a line from Amanda Gorman who gifted us with one of the most significant poetic moments of 2021 thusfar,  - with words  “ we will raise this wounded world into a wonderous one.”
Read. Consider. Breathe. Share.

Megan Carter

Megan Carter is a writer and text-based artist, and by day coordinates the Education Programme at Corban Estate Arts Centre. With a background in retail and publishing, Megan has inhabited the community arts, exhibition management and production space including the Trusts Art and Sculpture Awards, Going West Books and Writers Festival, and Peninsula Arts Inc.which delivered the Harbourview Sculpture Trail in sunny Te Atatu North. Megan holds a B Soc. Sci (Waikato ), PG Dip Drama (Auckland) and has continued a part-time academic path in Literature with Massey University, currently working to complete an MCW. She recently exhibited works in the group show "The Marketplace of Feelings" at Corban Estate Arts Centre.

" I'm honoured to have the opportunity to shape a collection of words and images in this digital environment at a time when creativity is providing voice, power and hope to a world so deeply in crisis."