Contemporary NZ Poets in Performance (2007)

Cover image: Richard Killeen / Cover design: Christine Hansen /
Text design: Katrina Duncan

Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance. Edited by Jack Ross and Jan Kemp. ISBN 978 1 86940 395 9. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2007. xiv + 162 pp.


Preface: Voiceprints


Peter Olds (b. 1944)
Waking up in Phillip Street
Doctors Rock
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Bernadette Hall (b. 1945)
Party Tricks
The Lay Sister
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Stephanie de Montalk (b. 1945)
Tree Marriage
Northern Spring
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Alan Brunton (1946-2002)
The Man on Crazies Hill
from Waves
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Sam Hunt (b. 1946)
My Father Scything
Rainbows and a Promise of Snow
Hey, Minstrel
Plateau Songs
Bottle to Battle to Death
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Bill Manhire (b. 1946)
The Old Man’s Example
On Originality
Visiting Mr Shackleton
A Song about the Moon
Biography / Selected Bibliography

James Norcliffe (b. 1946)
at Franz Josef
the visit of the dalai lama
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Ian Wedde (b. 1946)
Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos 31
Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos 32
Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos 35
Barbary Coast
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Fiona Farrell (b. 1947)
Anne Brown’s Song
Instructions for the Consumption of Your Humanitarian Food Package
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Keri Hulme (b. 1947)
from Fisher in an Autumn Tide
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Murray Edmond (b. 1949)
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Jan Kemp (b. 1949)
Against the Softness of Woman
The Sky’s Enormous Jug
Sailing Boats
‘Love is a babe …’
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Cilla McQueen (b. 1949)
Living Here
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Bob Orr (b. 1949)
The X
A Country Shaped like a Butterfly’s Wing
Ballad of the Great South Rd
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Geoff Cochrane (b. 1951)
Spindrift Sunday
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Bill Sewell (1951-2003)
Breaking the Quiet
Biography / Selected Bibliography

David Eggleton (b. 1952)
Poem for the Unknown Tourist
Teen Angel
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Graham Lindsay (b. 1952)
Cloud silence
Life in the Queen’s English
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Iain Sharp (b. 1953)
Amnesty Day
Two Minute Poem
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Janet Charman (b. 1954)
'they say that in paradise'
ready steady
from wake up to yourself
but she wanted one
cuckoo in the nest
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Paula Green (b. 1955)
greek salad
oven-baked salmon
afternoon tea with Virginia Woolf
two minutes westward
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Vivienne Plumb (b. 1955)
A Letter from My Daughter
The Vegan Bar and Gaming Lounge
The Tank
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Apirana Taylor (b. 1955)
Sad Joke on a Marae
Hinemoa’s daughter
six million
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Anne French (b. 1956)
The New Museology
Uncle Ron’s Last Surprise
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Michele Leggott (b. 1956)
cairo vessel
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Richard von Sturmer (b. 1957)
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Roma Potiki (b. 1958)
Exploding Light
For Paiki
Biography / Selected Bibliography

Track List

Variant Readings


Back cover


Aotearoa NZ Poetry Sound Archive

Auckland University Press

The Imaginary Museum

Front flap: Blurb

CONTEMPORARY NEW ZEALAND POETS IN PERFORMANCE collects the work of 27 poets who came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, stamping their mark irrevocably on the New Zealand poetic scene and introducing new forms, new language and new freedoms. We hear the instantly recognisable, laconic but swaggering voice of Sam Hunt as he performs one of his 'road songs'; the understated reading of Bill Manhire; the plain-spoken storytelling of Keri Hulme; and the quiet humour of Cilla McQueen - lively, entertaining and moving work from some of New Zealand's best-loved poets.

Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance is a follow-up and companion to the bestselling Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance. Once again, editors Jack Ross and Jan Kemp have selected and presented on two CDs material from the Waiata Recordings Archive, collected in 1974, and the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, completed in 2004. There are more than two hours of poets reading their own work and the accompanying book prints the texts of the poems as they have been read. Selected bibliographies and short biographies for each poet are also included, as well as an appendix of variant readings. As Kemp and Ross write in their introduction, 'these recordings serve to remind us that we are not always a silent people'. The poets' voices are a treasure.


Auckland University Press
The University Of Auckland
1-11 Short St.
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand

RRP: $NZ 45.00

Back flap: Author information

JACK ROSS is a writer and editor, based on Auckland's North Shore. He has published three books of poems: City of Strange Brunettes (1998), Chantal's Book (2002) and To Terezín (2007); two novels: Nights with Giordano Bruno (2000) and The Imaginary Museum of Atlantis (2006): and two books of short stories. His other books include the anthology Golden Weather: North Shore Writers Past and Present (2004), edited with Graeme Lay, and Myth of the 21st Century: An Anthology of New Fiction (2006), edited with Tina Shaw.

JAN KEMP is co-collector/editor of the Waiata Archive and three-record set NZ Poets Read Their Work (1974) and founding director of the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive (2004). She returned home in 1999 after 25 years overseas and lives with her husband in Torbay. Auckland. She was awarded an MNZM in 2005 and her sixth book of poems, Dante's Heaven, was published in 2006. She spent September 2006 as a Writer in Residence at Le Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland, where she began work on a new collection of poems, Voiceprints.


Reviews & Comments:

  1. Auckland University Press.

    After the stunning success of Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance AUP and editors Jack Ross and Jan Kemp now present readings on two CDs from a later generation of 27 poets born from 1944 to 1958. These are the great poets of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Ian Wedde, Bill Manhire, Sam Hunt, Jan Kemp, Alan Brunton, as well as some whose names were made more recently such as Bernadette Hall, Stephanie de Montalk, Anne French and Keri Hulme.

  2. Independent Publishers Group.

    Chosen for their commitment to voice and performance, the poets include Ian Wedde, Bill Manhire, Sam Hunt, Jan Kemp, Alan Brunton, and Bernadette Hall, among others.

    Jack Ross is a poet, editor, and comparative literature scholar whose articles, reviews and interviews have been widely published. He is the author of eight books. He lives in New Zealand.

  3. Unireps.

    This paperback and 2 CDs collects the work of 27 poets who came of age during the 1960s and 1970s, stamping their mark irrevocably on the New Zealand poetic scene and introducing new forms, new language and new freedoms. We hear the instantly recognisable, laconic but swaggering voice of Sam Hunt as he performs one of his ‘road songs’; the understated reading of Bill Manhire; the plainspoken storytelling of Keri Hulme; and the quiet humour of Cilla McQueen – lively, entertaining and moving work from some of New Zealand’s best-loved poets.

  4. Arts Centre Bookshop

    As Kemp and Ross write in their introduction, 'these recordings serve to remind us that we are not always a silent people'. Their diverse voices are a treasure.

  5. Phillip Matthews. "Poets corner the Market." NZ Listener vol. 210, no. 357 (July 28-August 3, 2007).

    Not many of these local bards deliver like grand orators – Sam Hunt’s an obvious exception – but there’s a real poignancy in hearing the voices of Bob Orr and Ian Wedde as recorded in 1974 and then again 30 years later, especially as youthful lines like “the world’s greedy anarchy, I love it” (Wedde) and “I’m leaving soon with my barefooted heart” (Orr) seem to contain all of the innocent hedonism of the 70s.

  6. Jennifer Little. "Editor gets sound and fury of baby boomer poets." Massey News 10 (10 August 2007).

    Raunchy, provocative poetry forged amid the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll era will be read and heard in a new collection co-edited by English lecturer and author Dr Jack Ross and poet Jan Kemp.

    They anticipate readers will be jolted as well as entertained by verbal antics and stirring images from page one. Take the opening lines of the book’s first poem by Peter Olds called Waking Up in Phillip Street as he sets the scene: “This two-layered cake full of puking TV sets/ knife cuts & blood on the furniture” ...

  7. Graham Brazier. "Ferries at the bottom of my garden." Weekend Herald: Canvas (11 August 2007) 29.

    Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance is a masterpiece.

  8. Unity Books Newsletter 30 (Winter, 2007).

    To hear the poet read his or her poem aloud is to hear the poem with new ears, with a conviction, knowledge of precision and purpose in the words chosen and the subject matter explored ... A wonderful complement to the previous collection of classical material.

  9. Sam Finnemore. Craccum 15 (August, 2007) 35.

    This volume mightn’t be as safely ‘classic’ as last year’s collection, but of course that’s the point; this particular revolution isn’t over yet by a long shot ... If anything, it’s even better than its companion volume from 2006: just as comprehensive and much more cohesive, it’s a joy to read and hear.

  10. Peter Dornauf. "Poetic Set misses some of the best." Waikato Times (11 August, 2007).

    The voices range from the buttoned-down flat to the completely over-the-top melodramatic. Some strain for significance while others plump for an understated timbre. The best strike an easy, natural, rhythmical voice, full of modulation, intonation and variation in speed.

  11. Margaret Christensen. Wairarapa Times-Age (22 August, 2007).

    ... the recordings (done under two separate archival schemes) are clean of surface, the poets well paced, expressive, yet individualistic. This collection is distinguished in its own right as an artefact because of its cover by Richard Killeen, its fine layout and design.

    Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance reaches a milestone.

  12. Sarah Johnson. NZ Writers E-zine (September, 2007).

    Everyone’s guest list will be different, but if you love poetry you can be sure you are going to love this luxurious collection. Because this is what Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance felt like, a feast, with its only downfall being that at the end of it, you are still hungry for more. It made me feel afresh the shame that, outside of the country’s main centres, readings by any poet, let alone poets of the calibre featured here, are rare.

    For if poetry is meant to be spoken, then It is equally meant to be heard, and the true value of this book may lie in its ability to bring the voices of our poets to so many more people. There is also the consolation that it is preceded by an earlier collection – Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance – and that a sequel (I assume of modern poets) is planned.

  13. Matt Bowler. "Poetry collection a Kiwi must-have." The Nelson Mail (19 September, 2007) 41.

    The two CDs that accompany the book have the poets reading their poems. Their inclusion lifts the book from an excellent collection to a national treasure. The added richness and insight of hearing the poets’ own interpretation of their works is incalculable.

  14. Harry Ricketts. "Sounds like us." New Zealand Books(Summer 2007) 12.

    Contemporary New Zealand Poets in a similar format [to Classic Poets] also contains 27 contributors. Again, the selection of poets is reasonably uncontentious though the choice of some of the individual poems seems a bit perverse. This is, after all, a record for posterity as much as anything else. ...

    With the huge increase in poetry readings over the last 30 years, some voices are extremely familiar. Everyone can do a Sam Hunt impersonation, that high, blokey, love-scarred, half-chant. And Bill Manhire’s signature twist of the voice, once heard, is unmistakably audible throughout his work. But that will not always be the case. Future listeners will be grateful to hear how these poets sounded. For them it will fractionally help to close the gap between themselves and the foreign country of our own time, just as the comparable gap between us and the late 19th century is momentarily bridged by the faint, crackly 1890 recording of Tennyson reading “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in his just discernible Lincolnshire accent.

  15. Terry Locke. JNZL 25 (2007): 174-77.

    This book and its two CDs, and with Richard Killeen’s striking cover, bespeaks a number of narratives including Kemp’s. Implicated in it are poetic lives, with their victories and defeats; the ebbs and flows of cultural history, with its gaps and continuities; and above all, the survival and burgeoning of poetry as an art and craft in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

  16. Allan Phillipson. CNZS Bulletin of New Zealand Studies 1 (2008): 298-302.

    How I wish these CDs had existed four years ago, when I was teaching Apirana Taylor's "Sad Joke on a Marae" to a group of adult students in Devon. The class had been full of questions, many of which would have been answered simply by hearing the poet's voice. Taylor's tone, his pronunciation, the sad, slow, angry delivery of his words convey so much more than any explanation. To hear him cry "Tihei Mauriora" four times to the ghosts on a marae, each time with increasing anguish, would have been enough. As a teaching aid, this anthology is invaluable; an aspect underscored by Ross's own website, which supplies a list of approaches to using the book in classroom situations.

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