[cover image: Richard Killeen / Cover design: Christine Hansen]
Contemporary NZ Poets in Performance
Edited by Jack Ross & Jan Kemp
(Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007)
So it appears that I'm down to give a public lecture (in the "Chancellor's Series," no less, alongside the likes of Nicky Hager and Cindy Kiro), on the subject of this series of anthologies: NZ Poets in Performance.
It's at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 1st, in the Study Centre Staff Lounge of Massey University, Albany. If you happen to be passing. Free entry -- free tea and coffee, too ...
That got me to thinking about the bunch of teaching notes I put up on this blog when AUP published Classic NZ Poets in Performance last year. I hope they’ve been handy to someone, at least. I haven't heard much about them either way. In any case, I thought I might continue the tradition and do the same thing for this sequel, Contemporary NZ Poets in Performance.
I guess the philosophy behind our selection of poems all along was to choose those which didn't require a great deal of background knowledge to like. We’ve tried to choose poems about very concrete, accessible topics, by poets who are used to reaching out to a general audience. That’s not to say that there aren’t subtleties and complexities in all three books (these two and the projected New NZ Poets, scheduled for publication next year), but the idea was never to compile an anthology purely for poetry-lovers -- though of course we hope they’re being catered for as well.
The plan, at least, was to try to put in something for everyone in the books, as I’ve attempted to demonstrate in the breakdown of poems by theme which follows this entry.
Once again, I know that some of the poems could be listed under more than one heading, but all I’m doing here is indicating what I think is the predominant subject-matter or thematic direction in each. If you don’t agree, that might be a good starting-point for discussion:
• ADOLESCENCE & EDUCATION
• LANDSCAPE & LOCALITY
• LANGUAGE & WRITING
• LIFE, THE UNIVERSE & EVERYTHING
• PARENTS & CHILDREN
• POLITICS & POLEMICS
• RELATIONSHIPS & SEXUAL POLITICS
As with the Classic NZ Poets, our new book is arranged in chronological order of birthdates, beginning with Peter Olds in 1944 and ending with Roma Potiki in 1958. The preface to the book explains that:
This second volume, Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance, is our overview of the poetic generation which came to maturity in the 1960s and 1970s, that turbulent era of social, sexual, musical and artistic experimentation.(Some might call them the baby-boomers, though I doubt it’s a term which appeals much to the people in question. )
Many of the poets in the book have associations with many different parts of New Zealand; others (such as Bob Orr or Keri Hulme) are very strongly identified with a particular region, and constantly revisit it as subject-matter in their work.
Here are some of the places on offer:
• AUCKLAND & NORTHLAND
• BLEINHELM & MARLBOROUGH
• CHRISTCHURCH & CANTERBURY
• DUNEDIN & OTAGO
• GREYMOUTH & THE WEST COAST
• HAMILTON & WAIKATO
• INVERCARGILL & SOUTHLAND
• WELLINGTON & THE HUTT VALLEY
Further information may be accessed at the following websites:
• Authors. The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre.
(A select but valuable list of major NZ poets with pictures, recordings, and critical reactions).
• Homepage. Auckland University Press.
(Details of books and other publications by a number of the authors in the anthology).
• New Zealand Literature File. University of Auckland Library Website.
(This has thorough – though not always entirely reliable – bibliographies for many major New Zealand writers).
• Twelve Taonga. The New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre.
(A brief account of the creation of the 1974 and 2004 recorded poetry archives, which were the main source for this sereis of books).
• New Zealand Writers. The New Zealand Book Council Website.
(This has pictures and short biographical and critical summaries adapted from Roger Robinson & Nelson Wattie's Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1998), but with updated information and supplementary entries on more recent writers).