Author(s): Bill Manhire
This generous selection of Bill Manhire's poems moves from playful early pieces like ‘On Originality’ and ‘How to Take off Your Clothes at the Picnic’ to major works of recent years such as ‘Hotel Emergencies’, a powerful response to contemporary atrocities, and ‘Erebus Voices’, written to be read by Sir Edmund Hillary at the 25th anniversary of the Mt Erebus tragedy.
Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill in 1946 and grew up in the lower South Island, where his father was a peripatetic publican. Educated at the University of Otago and University College London, he has taught since 1973 at Victoria University of Wellington, and is the founding director of Victoria’s Institute of Modern Letters. He has published many books of poetry (four times winning the New Zealand Book Award and the poetry category in the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards), several works of fiction, and an autobiographical essay called Under the Influence. As an editor, he is responsible for numerous best-selling anthologies of New Zealand writing. A collection of his essays and interviews, Doubtful Sounds, was published in 2000, and he initiated and co-edited The Exercise Book: Creative Writing Exercises from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters in 2011. In 1997, Bill Manhire was made New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate. He was an Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellow in 1997–1998, and Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow in Menton, France, in 2004. In 2005 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. In 2007 he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry.