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New Laureate announced on Poetry Day

16 August 2013: New Laureate announced on Poetry Day

Vincent O’Sullivan is New Zealand’s new Poet Laureate.

“The Poet Laureate Advisory Group received some excellent nominations but was unanimous in its choice of Vincent to succeed Ian Wedde for the two-year Laureate term,” said Advisory Group chair and Alexander Turnbull Library Chief Librarian, Chris Szekely.

“Vincent O’Sullivan has been a leading figure in New Zealand and International poetry for over 40 years and his work continues to develop, with excellent reviews for his most recent anthology of new work, Us,Then, published only last month.”

“Nominators mentioned his wide appeal and ability to relate to range of audiences with warmth, wit and erudition. I have no doubt he will be an articulate and intelligent voice for the role and meaning of poetry.”

From its inception in 1997 through to 2007 the Laureates have been: Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Smither, Brian Turner and Jenny Bornholdt. Since 2007, when the National Library of New Zealand took over the appointment of the Poet Laureate, the Laureates have been Michele Leggott, Cilla McQueen and Ian Wedde.

The Laureate will be officially welcomed into the post by Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain at a ceremony at the National Library in Wellington next month.

Vincent O’Sullivan joins six other Dunedin poets at a public reading to mark New Zealand Poetry Day at Port Chalmers Library tonight (Friday 16 August) 6.30pm – 8.00pm.

More about the New Zealand Poet Laureate

Get in touch for more information. Allen Walley, Department of Internal Affairs, phone 04 495 9351 or 027 384 3009.

Biography

Vincent O’Sullivan, born in Auckland in 1937 is a poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, critic and editor.

A graduate from the universities of Auckland (1959) and Oxford (1962), he lectured in the English departments of Victoria University of Wellington (1963–66) and (after several months in Greece) the University of Waikato (1968–78), before committing himself to full-time writing.

He served as literary editor of the NZ Listener (1979–80), and then (1981–87) won a series of writer’s residencies and research fellowships in universities in Australia and New Zealand, interrupted by a year as resident playwright at Downstage Theatre, Wellington (1983). In 1988 he resumed his academic career as professor of English at Victoria University of Wellington.

Since 2004 he has been Emeritus Professor in the School of English and Film Studies at Victoria, but is now based in Dunedin. The winner of many literary prizes, including the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for Poetry in 2006, he was the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow in Menton in 1994, and the first writer-in-residence at Henderson House in Alexandra in 2007.

Nomination comments

Stephen Stratford
What astonishes is the sustained vigour, wit, technical facility, emotional and intellectual range and, increasingly, warmth. From the Butcher poems of 1977 to the latest “uneasy pieces” in tribute to Allen Curnow, the voice is unmistakable. We have cerebral poets, amusing poets, inventive poets, political poets, sensitive poets – but no one else who does it all.

Brian Turner
His work is wide-ranging in content and tone; you get wit, poignancy, satire, erudition and mastery of the NZ vernacular. He’s the real thing. And a straight shooter... fluent and unaffected.

Cilla McQueen
Vincent has been part of my personal poetic landscape since the 1960’s. Although he has published many academic works of great value in his career, it is as a poet that I see him, and feel that he still has a good deal more to say to us...

David Howard
For over half a century, alongside distinguished publications in fiction, non-fiction and drama, Vincent O’Sullivan has produced poetry that speaks with gracious authority about the human consequences of partial knowledge.

Editors please note: A photo and examples of Vincent O’Sullivan’s poetry are available on request.