If you hadn’t considered traveling to New Zealand, White Fungus will make you want to go. Not because this New Zealand-based magazine provides a picture of the landscape, though the cover is a lovely and unconventional painting of flowers in the park at Wellington, Aotearoa; and not because the inside cover graphic depicts the ocean in its sparkling turquoise glory; and not because the many ads for art galleries show that the visual arts are flourishing there. But because the poems, interviews, fiction, and essays here will let you know that New Zealand is a place for serious thinking about politics, cultural realities, social dilemmas, historical realities, the arts, and the power of language to render these subjects with a kind of dynamism and urgency that can often be missing in literature as in life. (And the design and graphics are terrific, too.)
This issue includes a history of the early days of zoological discovery in NZ; an essay about the meaning of the “public arts”; a clever multi-page comic exploring “indigeny” and colonization; an analysis of contemporary Mongolian poetry; brief interviews with musical artists from various genres; an essay on the Australian visual artist Richard Bell; a profile of Hong Kong artist Lee Kit; wonderful list poems by Cyril Wong; a magnificent long historically-themed poem by Francis Raven, “Jena: An Other Cartography”; “Sewer Rat Debacle,” a short story by Duncan Sarkies about precisely what its title announces; a critique of Berlin-based painter Martin Cienski’s darkly-themed work; an interview with Te Kupu of the musical group Upper Hutte Posse, who released NZ’s first rap single 20 years ago; several other pieces of short fiction; numerous reproductions of artworks of various kinds (sculpture, photographs); and “Burning Down the House. Capitalism at the Expense of All Life Part 2,” by Juan Santos, which begins: “It is upon us now to confront the greatest crisis in the lifespan of humankind. Civilization – the destructive way of the city.” “Profit = Theft,” Santos declares in large, bold font. “Money is worthless.” Need he (I) say more?
Nowhere in the journal is there an address for the publication office or notes about the editorial staff or the journal’s contributors. White Fungus is pure idea, images, historical and fictional critiques. On the back cover there is a web address for the printer. If you can’t go to New Zealand, do go there: www.lithoprint.co.nz.