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Bill Manhire

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  • Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill in 1946. He was his country's inaugural Poet Laureate and has won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry four times. He holds a personal chair at the Victoria University of Wellington, where he directs the celebrated creative writing programme and the International Institute of Modern Letters. His volume of short fiction, South Pacific, was published by Carcanet in 1994.

    Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill in 1946 and educated at the Universities of Otago and London. He now heads the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington and directs their prestigious creative writing programme. Graduates of the course include many of New Zealand's most accomplished contemporary writers (among them Barbara Anderson, James Brown, Kate Camp, Catherine Chidgey, Barbara Else, Kapka Kassabova, Elizabeth Knox, Emily Perkins and William Brandt).

    In 1997 he was made New Zealand's inaugural Poet Laureate, in a scheme sponsored by Te Mata Estate, and the collection of poetry What To Call Your Child was published to celebrate his term as Poet Laureate. At the heart of the book is a sequence of poems which arose from Manhire's visit to Antarctica in 1998. He spent two weeks on the ice, and 45 semi-heroic minutes at the South Pole. His fascination with Antarctica has resulted in The Wide White Page: Writers Imagine Antarctica, an anthology of writing about Antarctica edited and introduced by Bill, published by Victoria University Press in November 2004. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

    He has published many books of poetry (four times winning the New Zealand Book Award) and also a number of volumes of fiction. He has edited a number of best-selling anthologies of New Zealand poetry and short stories and a collection of his essays and interviews called Doubtful Sounds was published by VUP in 2000. His regular conversations with Kim Hill on National Radio had a wide following and did much to raise interest in poetry throughout the country.

    His Collected Poems 1967-1999 was published by Victoria University Press in New Zealand in July 2001 and by Carcanet in the UK. He has also recently published a memoir in the Montana Estates Essay series called Under the Influence about growing up in the Otago and Southland pubs run by his family.

    Bill Manhire was awarded the 2004 Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Fellowship, NZ's most prestigious literary fellowship and he spent six months working at the Villa Isola Bella, Menton, in the south of France.

    In June 2005 Bill Manhire was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In November 2005 Bill was named as one of the five Arts Foundation of New Zealand 2005 Laureates.
    Praise for Bill Manhire 'I love this latest collection of poems. . . They are hauntingly beautiful.'
    Alexandrina Ellis, Salient 
    'He has matured sturdily, and grown to an impressive height, and put down roots so tenacious in their grip on the world that it’ll take the devil of a wind to topple him.'
    Michael Hulse, New Zealand Books
    'An event to be celebrated . . . a powerful collection.'
    Tom Weston, The Press
    'Manhire risks accusations of sentimentality and produces a triumph. This is richly human work, which acknowledges its – and our – limitations and keeps reaching for the high windows, regardless.'
    Hugh Roberts, NZ Listener
    "A poet of considerable subtlety and strength, a 'dangerous writer'..."
    Charles Causley, Landfall
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