Owen Bullock has published three collections of poetry, sometimes the sky isn’t big enough (Steele Roberts 2010), semi (Puncher & Wattmann 2017) and Work & play (Recent Work Press, 2017); four books of haiku, and a novella. His research interests are semiotics and poetry, prose poetry, collaboration, creative arts therapies and wellbeing, and poetic processes. His scholarly work has appeared in Axon: Creative Explorations, Journal of New Zealand Literature, Ka Mate Ka Ora, New Writing, Qualitative Inquiry and TEXT. Owen has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Canberra, where he currently teaches. He has a website at https://poetry-in-process.com/ 

Fresh modes

Towards a radical ekphrasis

The original poetry in this hybrid critical/creative paper seeks to find acts of making that are equivalent or complementary to those of other art forms and to construct poems which respond not just in their content but in their structures, leading to a radical ekphrasis. It argues that this strategy makes for invigorated writing. The topic of ekphrasis finds numerous references in the literature of the last thirty years, but definitions of ekphrasis have narrowed since the term’s use in ancient times. It now has a particularly close association with the visual arts. It was formerly widely understood as a poetic response to any other form of art (Francis 2009), with no special importance placed on the visual work of art (Webb 2009: 11), but rather with a general ability to make a scene vivid. These poetic experiments attempt to balance the modern impetus to respond ekphrastically with the ancient understanding; they react to works of graphic design, journalism, Indigenous painting, as well as sculpture and installations, and notional ekphrasis. These poetic experiments explore Olson’s dictum that form is never more than an extension of content (1972: 338) and Hejinian’s equally important idea that ‘form is not a fixture but an activity’ (1983), and end by evaluating how the intention to find new structures has affected the content of the poetry.   

Keywords: Poetry – ekphrasis – form – experiment 

Joining the pages

Collaborative poetry in New Zealand


The collaborative writing of free verse poetry is a rare endeavour in any country but perhaps particularly so in New Zealand. The field of haikai literature, however, offers frequent examples of collaboration, through various forms of renga, and its influence on poets who collaborate has been significant. Following the example of Octavio Paz, this paper will consider whether collaboration might mitigate against ‘the myth of the unique author’, the single and authoritative signature with which 20th-century theorists such as Barthes, Foucault and Derrida found so much fault, and which Paz tried to dispel through collaboration. The paper will consider examples of co-authored poetry published in New Zealand, in particular those involving Jenny Powell-Chalmers, who has been New Zealand’s most active collaborator in free verse. In discussing collaborative poetry, particular attention will be paid to voice and heteroglossia, including its social aspect, and with reference to Bakhtin’s stylistics of the novel. As well as analysing collaborative poems for the effects of voice achieved, this paper will try to suggest why writing collaborative poetry is productive and has potential for invigorating creative practice.


From intuition to the unconscious

Poetry and assemblage

This paper considers poetic practice which emphasises an intuitive approach, through the poetry of Sylvia Plath, poetics and assemblage theory. Poets tend to write intuitively, attempting to say, despite the limitations of our use of language and of language in general, what we barely understand about life and ourselves. This is sometimes achieved by accessing the unconscious, a method which is characterised by putting analytical faculties to one side and trying to surrender to what is deep within the individual. Assemblage holds that the unconscious is not fixed, and that it is constructed in process; schizoanalysis, which is a development of the idea of the unconscious, emphasises multiplicity and the indefinable, even as Plath’s writing reflects on the multiple and the uncertainty of the self. The assemblage method is not a model for producing poetry, and authors may be unaware of its conception of the unconscious whilst in practice exemplifying it. Assemblage is one way in which to enhance understanding of the poetic process to assist the reader’s enjoyment. This paper concludes with poetic responses to the example of Plath’s work, and as Plath becomes a focus of imagination, inspiring further writing which looks to the unconscious for new reference points.