The Next Word opens

Showcasing the many voices of New Zealand's poetic traditions.

The Next Word: Contemporary New Zealand Poetry

4 December 2017 — 24 March 2018 | 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday | Turnbull Gallery, Level one

Juggler Santiago 2013 by Bruce Foster
Juggler Santiago 2013. Photo: Bruce Foster

Poetry has long been an influential presence in New Zealand society; a many-faceted voice encompassing the oral tradition of Māori as well as the poetic traditions of Pākehā and Tauiwi.

The Alexander Turnbull Library, as a major repository of New Zealand poetry, collects not only published work but also poetry in the form of fine printing, ephemera, manuscript and recorded sound. This exhibition presents a small selection from these collections; in which we hope you will find poems - and the rich variety of their settings - that will entertain, intrigue, and make you curious to look further.

The Next Word charts the work of recent generations of poets beginning with 70’s folk heroes Sam Hunt and James K. Baxter through to the international sensation that is Hera Lindsay Bird. This exhibition chronicles the development of New Zealand poetry not as a single unified voice, but as a cacophony of voices with a multitude of stories to tell.

Among the significant influences enriching contemporary culture are writers of Polynesian descent whose words quest outward over oceans, and bustling cities, connecting the poetry of New Zealand to our neighbours. This influence is further acknowledged in the National Library’s recent appointment of Selina Tusitala Marsh as New Zealand Poet Laureate. Selina’s work introduces a fresh literary style, a Pasifika voice, which communicates in new ways both to recently arrived generations of New Zealanders and those long settled here.

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