brief

The other New Zealand literary journal

Month: December 2016

Issue 55 Supplement: How Many Miles To Babylon

How Many Miles to Babylon? Three Faces of Mike Johnson’s Lear

Did Mike Johnson know that there had once been a “Babylon” on the Kaipara when he chose that name for his imaginary village? I don’t know. I haven’t asked him.

Even if he had, would it make much difference to the nature of the novel he dreamt up: that strange mixture of courtly erudition and intense, provincial ignorance? Not directly, no. His larger point would, I’m sure, remain valid in either case.

Why bother to go and look for it, then?

I suppose, if I were to be honest, that the impetus for this quest – and the larger study of “Speculative Fictional” landscapes within New Zealand which it forms a part of – is largely supplied by its paradoxical nature…
Jack Ross

The following is a colour supplement for Jack Ross‘ essay, How Many Miles to Babylon? which appears in brief issue 55. All photographs: Bronwyn Lloyd (5/8/16).

 Mike Johnson: Lear (1986)

Mike Johnson: Lear (1986)

Mike Johnson’s dystopian SF novel is set on a waterway described only as “the river,” in a tiny settlement called “Babylon.”

Tangiteroria

Tangiteroria

Scaffolding at Tangiteroria, on SH14 between Whangarei and Dargaville.

 Northern Wairoa River

Northern Wairoa River

 

Northern Wairoa River

Northern Wairoa River

The upper reaches of “the river” – at Tangiteroria.

The view

The view

The view from Tangiteroria, looking towards the West Coast.

Tangowahine

Tangowahine

A prototype for Babylon? The tiny settlement of Tangowahine, on the way towards the coast.

Wairoa River (Dargaville)

Wairoa River (Dargaville)

Funnily enough, the Wairoa River was always referred to simply as “the river” by the inhabitants of the Kapipara. Here it is at its widest, looking over towards Te Kopuru.

Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

The sign is on SH 12, 6 kms north of Dargaville.

 Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

 

Stop!

Stop!

 

Babylon Coast Road

Babylon Coast Road

Storm clouds coming over the hills from Babylon: the former gum-digging settlement down near Baylys Beach.

The full text of How Many Miles to Babylon? Three Faces of Mike Johnson’s Lear by Jack Ross appears in brief issue 55.

Book launch: two chapbooks from Seraph Press, Auckland

Book launch for two chapbooks from Seraph Press.

Shipwrecks/Shelters: Six Contemporary Greek Poets, edited and translated by Vana Manasiadis, and Observations: Poems by Claudio Pasi, translated by Tim Smith with Marco Sonzogni.

When: Wednesday 16 December, 6pm
Where: St Paul St Gallery, 40 Paul St, Auckland
Who: Readings by Vana Manasiadis, Paula Green, Hemi Kelly, Glenn Colquhoun, Tulia Thompson, Siobhan Harvey, Doug Poole, and Jack Ross.

A multilingual poetry reading to celebrate the launch of the first the first two chapbooks in the Seraph Press Translation Series. Poetry readings in and from Greek, Italian, Maori, Fijian, Norwegian, Samoan, and French.

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