New Enterprises of the Forties
The forties saw several new enterprises emerging. The quarterly Arena first appeared in Wellington in June 1943 (“We enter the Arena”) and its regular production is a credit to the enthusiasm and steadfastness of its printer-editor, N. F. Hoggard, who has had unusual success in attracting the “first appearances” of writers later to become well known. An enterprising bookseller published in Wellington the bi-monthly journal Parsons' Packet in October 1948 (desisting in 1955), reviewing current imported literature. In 1948 also an Auckland group began Here and Now, which inherited some of the mantle of Tomorrow and for several years provided primarily a journal of opinion with some attention to the arts. A section of the same interests are still served by the cyclostyled Auckland trade union literary journal Fernfire.
In March 1947 the Caxton Press began publishing Landfall, edited by Charles Brasch. This quarterly has kept up a quality which has disarmed the gloomy prognostications based on the fate of journals of the same scope (it has lasted longer than either Life and Letters or Horizon), and has become the recognised vehicle for the best work of New Zealand writers.
Today several journals exist to express the mind of a group. Victoria University of Wellington produced Hilltop in 1949, which became Arachne but did not survive. Numbers (“edited” by a committee of five which included Baxter and Johnson) flourished for several issues. Mate, beginning in Auckland in 1958, has achieved a flavour of its own. So, too, has Image (1958, Auckland). These periodicals, never tied to a dismal regularity of appearance, have produced some fiction and poetry of excellent quality. A quarterly journal of opinion, Comment, begun in Christchurch in 1959 and now edited in Wellington, expresses the point of view of a group of younger Roman Catholic writers and is vigorous within its chosen field, sticking closely to events in this country, including those in the arts. The New Zealand Monthly Review began in Christchurch in May 1960 edited by H. Winston Rhodes and resumed some of the themes of Tomorrow and Here and Now.
The New Zealand Poetry Yearbook began in 1952. Its editor, Louis Johnson, has conscientiously cast his net as wide as possible, including a proportion of reprinted work; the critical material occasionally included has been markedly below the standard generally achieved by the verse.
One of the casualties of wartime paper shortages was the occasional publication of fiction or poetry by local newspapers. Few journals today will accept literary material. The Weekly News and the monthly Mirror occasionally print fiction. (As did the defunct Free Lance and Railways Magazine.) Periodicals of national scope have a difficult task to survive because the scattered centres of New Zealand make distribution expensive. One journal should be mentioned which is published outside New Zealand, the Sydney Bulletin, which has often opened its pages to our writers, even though it irritatingly persists in deriving them from an entity in its own mind, “Maoriland”.
Looking back with the privileged clairvoyance of hindsight wisdom, we are perhaps more impressed with the successes rather than the failures of New Zealand literary magazines. The Triad and the New Zealand Illustrated Magazine have the flavour of their times, something too of provinciality it must be admitted. The precocious brilliance of Phoenix and the social conscience of Tomorrow reflect the maturity that came to a generation which in the slump years had been given to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In our own day the steady performance of the Listener and the more leisurely voyages of Landfall are rewarding and offer some of the satisfactions of the ship come home.