Mayhem Literary Journal is generously sponsored for 2019 by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato

issue 7 | october 2019

Take the ladder to Mayhem – to work that’s autonomic, undefended, tender, frontline, insubordinate, bruised. To work that breathes, risks, cuts, shines, calls out, costs...

issue 6 | october 2018

There is something at work in the world that wants to put its hand over our mouths again. It wants to steer us back into dark rooms and pin down our voices and keep our bodies mute. It wants to buy and bury our stories, mock our sounds of resistance with locker-room sneers; it tries to smear our memories with boys-club laughter, it uses rape jokes to rally its troops. It wants to keep the corridors of power safe for men in suits to violate us. It wants to dress capitalism up in the white sheets of god and make slavery gospel again. It thinks it has the mandate. To put children in colour-coded cages. To cash in the planet for celebrity shares. To reinstate the closet. To polish the glass ceiling. To litigate the neck of our wombs. It thinks it is entitled. It thinks it has the right...

issue 5 | october 2017

Writers read. Full stop. No exception. End of story. A writer who doesn’t read is like a painter who never opens their eyes. Is there a musician out there whose headphones aren’t crunching with punk history, or brimming with symphony, who doesn’t slip the turntable their latest LP and lie down to wait for the chromatic transports of the needle? If you write, you’re a junkie for the word, wherever you can pick up the next hit. And luckily, the drug is everywhere. It’s stitched into the battered leather covers of volumes you ease off the shelf in a gilded haze of dust, the classics whose pages breathe out the weather and melody of ancient sentences...

issue 4 | october 2016

A workshop has six to ten hearts. It has the bent legs of many uncomfortable chairs. It has windows you can’t lever open to breathe through. It has shoes to be stared at – munted tread, shredded laces – the skin around thumbnails to pick. It has polygon tables in wipe- clean brown that will never make a circle no matter how you rig them. It has belly laughs, and bad memories. It has a relentless background track of kids wielding hammers in a corner of a crèche, or a crane dismantling a chainlinked classroom block, or the churn of the aircon set to nuclear winter. Or silence. It has plenty of silence...

issue 3 | october 2015

In the beginning was the ache. Before a word could be scratched on the paper, before a vowel sound could be mouthed, the writer knew the ache, felt its hum under their ribcage, sensed its rhythm catching in their breath, weighing their steps. And the ache hurt. And the ache thrilled. It was what they longed to say, lodged and looming in their body, before it could be said. And the writer learned to open themselves to the ache – to nurse it in their belly, sleep in its shadow, blink in its strange glare, yield to its drop in temperature, run with its spike in heartrate. And the ache started stretching, a fine line, a thin sentence, joining the page to the solar plexus. It was slow, it was risky. But it was the point of writing any words at all...

issue 2 | december 2014

Sometimes the page is a mess. The sentences won’t hold their weight. The characters stiffen and hide their faces, or stand at centrestage and shriek. The plot takes corners you can’t follow, a dark figure with back turned, distant steps. The set is a series of shadows, or postcards of overused plastic towns. The voice sounds lifted from an answering machine – or an emergency room. The mood floods, or flatlines. The words tick, bloodless, from left to right. Or animals appear in the alphabet, things with raw faces that make shapes of pain and bare their teeth. The page goes into spasm. The page goes into stasis. You spend days staring down the vanishing point of the mess...

issue 1 | march 2014

There is a moment in a creative writing workshop when the air is utterly charged, the tension visceral. You raise your page to begin to read and your throat dries, your voice catches under your ribs, your gut contracts. The words you’ve prepared spill over the paper, a quake of dark marks that follow the faultlines in your hand, no longer under your control. The shaking spreads to your breath, your self-belief. But you go on. And although the story cracks and halts, the poem shivers, the room is transformed around you. The scene you have faced – raw loss, dark laughter, the memory that haunts, the shadow you’ve dared to give voice and shape – lifts off the page, unlocks from your body, and enters the silent circle of those who listen. And their response, before any critique is offered, any insight phrased, is palpable. Your words have reached them, made their chest wall ache, made them blink and sweat, unsettled their pulse rate...


 

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