TROUT   [ 2 ]

  New Flies

Last weekend (Queen’s Birthday in NZ) Annie, the kids and I drove down to Rotorua to stay with my parents. The plan was to catch up with family, whack a golf-ball around and maybe try out some new flies on Lake Rerewhakaaitu. Unfortunately the weather intervened and we scarcely left the house. So out came the laptop, to markup the last of the files for Trout 2. My father, an avid reader, suitably unimpressed by what he saw on the screen, screwed up his eyes and asked how I could possibly read that...

Which raises the issue central to electronic publishing - why bother ? Literature, the arts, are about our humanness, about passion. How does this square with the cold technology of bits, bytes and the Internet ? How do we replace books, the feel of turning pages with a computer screen. You’ve probably heard the refrain, or said it yourself - but how can I read it in the bath? I have a suspicion that the majority of Internet users still print out anything they want to read closely.

And yet there is obvious excitement from writers/artists/photographers about the Internet’s potential. At the moment I’d put it down to three things - hypertext, multimedia and audience. Yahoo has a whole category on Hypertext and Literary Theory, essayists posing questions like - are hypertext and multimedia technologies our saviours come to deliver us out of our defunct paradigm? Etc etc. Sites like the Poetry Machine, Current and Anthem using sound, colours, textures to create a web of literature. And audience... well, compare the readership of your local print-published, earnest literary mag with potential readership on the Internet.

This issue of Trout continues to explore the opportunities and limitations of creativity on the Web. Judy Haswell provides a linked cycle of poems inspired by Maungawhau; from Hamish Macdonald a gallery of photographic works; Virginia Were’s prose piece incorporates works by major New Zealand artists. Andrew Coop, Kateri Damm, Belinda Diepenheim, Simon Field, Thomas Mitchell, Brian Potiki and Gerry Webb - all offer work that is, in subtle ways enhanced by its format.

Tony and Robert both go in search of Sia Figiel, Samoan winner of the Best First Book award in the Asia Pacific section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize - one to the awards in London and the other through her novel Where We Once Belonged.

But back to Rotorua... I had to agree that, for my father at least, curling up on the couch with Nelson Mandela’s autobiography was certainly preferable to doing battle with a rogue mouse. Later that afternoon the rain did clear for an hour or so, and we managed to sight some rainbow trout on a walk through Hamarana Springs. Maybe next time...

  3 June 1997