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September 24, 2007 | by  | in Books |
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Just Another Art Movement originated as a twice yearly literary publication back in 1995, bringing together cutting edge poetry, prose and reviews from New Zealand and overseas, with writing from poets such as David Eggelton and Sam Hunt gracing the pages. In 2005, JAAM went the way of Sport, and publication became an annual event. Originally scheduled for release last year, the arrival of JAAM 24 was delayed by the arrival of a baby – co-editor Clare Needham’s son was born in late 2006. Luckily, in the manner of many things long anticipated, the advent of this collection doesn’t disappoint, and brings together some startling and arresting new writing.

JAAM’s intent has always been to feature the work of upcoming writers alongside that of more established names, and it’s a credit to the overall high standard of writing in this issue that the more well-known authors don’t steal the entire show. Personal highlights include the bouncily infectious, puppy-like enthusiasm of Lawrence Patchett’s narration in Bussing It, transforming a mundane commute into an exclamation mark strewn voyage full of love and the enjoyment of life. A completely different sort of journey is evoked by James O’Sullivan in Laps, as bored teenage girls cruise the main drag of New Plymouth on some random Saturday night. Here it’s not life or love that’s important, but how many numbers you have on your phone, who’s texting who, sleeping with who, scoring who, whatever, the idiom is neatly captured, and I liked the allusion to the lack of distinction between the dual monotonies of work (or school) and recreation, so often experienced when young.

Surd person circular by Brian E. Turner is one of the poems that co-editor Needham refers to as among the “games” of the selection – those works that require the reader to ‘actively engage to release their hidden pleasures’. It’s worth the effort to enjoy Turner’s bizarre wordplay, with its strangely lyrical use of mathematical and scientific terms at odds with the free nature and absurdity of the poem.

JAAM 24 is an enjoyable collection of writing from a talented bunch of New Zealanders, and is a nice snapshot of recent work by less well-known authors.

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