Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire  


Bill Manhire is a prize-winning poet and writer with several New Zealand Book Awards to his credit, and a number of significant fellowships. He was the 1997/1998 New Zealand Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate, and was honoured with the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in 2007. Bill is the director of the International Institute of Modern Letters, centre for Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington. He has coordinated several bestselling anthologies, and his poetry and fiction is published in New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. BUDDHIST RAIN represents a new phase in his work.

I had mixed feelings when Norman first got in touch about setting my poems. Didn’t they have music already? But I liked what we did with them enormously – I felt that he had somehow found new cadences and melodies in the words that were as true as anything I felt was there originally. And I loved Hannah’s voice.  – Bill Manhire

A graduate from the universities of Otago and London, Bill has lectured in the English department of Victoria University of Wellington since 1973. Bill has one numerous awards, including New Zealand Book Awards in 1977, 1984, 1992 and 1996. Recognised as among the two or three finest New Zealand poets of his generation, Bill has been published in many international journals, including Malady (1970), The Elaboration (1972), Song Cycle (1975), How to Take Off Your Clothes at the Picnic (1977), Dawn/Water (1979), Good Looks (1982), Locating the Beloved and Other Stories (1983), Zoetropes: Poems 1972–82 (1984), The Old Man’s Example (1990), Milky Way Bar (1991), Sheet Music: Poems 1967–1982 (1996) and My Sunshine (1996).

Bill’s poems are elliptical, and often enigmatic. Among his earliest pieces were adaptations of Anglo-Saxon riddles and spells, and the cryptic ‘Wulf and Eadwacer’. His later style retains something of that fragmentary dramatic lament’s elusive (and allusive) ability to stir the imagination. Such qualities are very evident in the engaging and attractive BUDDHIST RAIN.

Bill is also the author of athe critical study, Maurice Gee (1986), and editor of two volumes of NZ Listener Short Stories (1977–78), Some Other Country: New Zealand’s Best Short Stories (with Marion McLeod, 1984, revised 1992 and 1994), Six by Six: Short Stories by New Zealand’s Best Writers (1989), 100 New Zealand Poems (1993), and Denis Glover: Selected Poems (1995). His creative writing course at Victoria has had a major influence on New Zealand literature.

Bill Manhire is a prize-winning poet and writer with several New Zealand Book Awards to his credit and a number of significant fellowships. He was the 1997/1998 New Zealand Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate, and was honoured with the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in 2007. His poetry and fiction are published internationally, as well as in New Zealand. BUDDHIST RAIN represents a new phase in his work.
I had mixed feelings when Norman first got in touch about setting my poems. Didn’t they have music already? But I liked what he did with them enormously – I felt that he had somehow found new cadences and melodies in the words that were as true as anything I felt was there originally. And I loved Hannah’s voice. – Bill Manhire

Bill was born in Invercargill in 1946, and studied at the universities of Otago and London. He began lecturing in the English Department of Victoria University of Wellington in 1973, where he founded the university's now famous creative writing programme. He now directs the International Institute of Modern Letters, also at Victoria.

His books include a Collected Poems and, more recently, the prizewinning Lifted (2005) and The Victims of Lightning (2010), which contains lyrics specifically written for Norman Meehan.

Bill's critical essays have been gathered under the title Doubtful Sounds, and he has also published a study of the novelist Maurice Gee. A brief memoir, Under the Influence, deals with Bill's childhood in country pubs in Otago and Southland. He has been involved in a range of collaborations, most notably perhaps the sci-art project Are Angels OK, and the sustained work (MALADY, Song Cycle, Pine) he has done with Ralph Hotere over the years.

As the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature notes, Bill’s poems are elliptical, and often enigmatic. "Among his earliest pieces were adaptations of Anglo-Saxon riddles and spells, and the cryptic ‘Wulf and Eadwacer’. His later style retains something of that fragmentary dramatic lament’s elusive (and allusive) ability to stir the imagination." Such qualities are very evident in the engaging and attractive BUDDHIST RAIN.