Landfall … in Unknown Seas

When I announced the publication of my new new novella Landfall by Paper Road Press, I also announced a competition: everyone who correctly named the famous New Zealand poem it’s titled after went in the draw to win a copy. Out of the entries, almost all correct, I’ve now picked the winner, and it’s Benjamin Dodds. Congratulations, Benjamin!

Simply by sailing in a new direction
You could enlarge the world.

Landfall in Unknown Seas is a poem by Allen Curnow set to music by Douglas Lilburn. Curnow was commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs to write a poem to mark the tercentenary (13 December 1942) of Abel Tasman’s arrival in New Zealand. The resulting poem is an icon of mid-twentieth-century Pakeha nationalist literature, expressing the growing sense of separation from the “Mother Country” – a movement with which, in music, the composer Douglas Lilburn was also identified.

This is also the poem from which the literary magazine Landfall takes its name.

In 2015, those “sailing in a new direction” to escape poverty and the effects of climate change find the world shrinking away from them. My novella takes place in a near-future New Zealand in which refugee boats are met by Navy torpedoes and any who survive must run a desperate gauntlet to make it safely ashore. When political parties that have traditionally welcomed immigrants find it politically expedient to change their tune, the seeds of such a Landfall are all too easy to see.

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