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Allen Curnow: A Life in Poetry

  • Waitakere Central, West Auckland’s Civic Building in Henderson. 6 Henderson Valley Road Auckland, Auckland, 0612 New Zealand (map)

CK Stead and Linda Cassells with Alex Calder

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As poet, anthologist, critic and playwright, Allen Curnow helped to reshape New Zealand’s literary landscape over many decades from the 1930s until his death in 2001. Allen Curnow Simply by Sailing in a New Direction: A Biography was one of the last projects undertaken by the late literary scholar Terry Sturm. Editor Linda Cassells, who completed Sturm’s work on the biography, and author and scholar CK Stead join Associate Professor Alex Calder to examine Curnow’s life, his work and his legacy – including the new definitive collection of his poems edited by Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm.

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CK Stead is the only New Zealand writer to have been both Poet Laureate and won the Prime Minister’s award for fiction.  He has also won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Prize for the short story, the Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Prize (the world’s largest for the short story), the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, and the King’s Lynn Poetry Award.  His books The New Poetic and Pound, Yeats Eliot and the Modernist Movement, and the collections of essays which have followed, established his formidable reputation as a critic both in New Zealand and internationally. He is Professor Emeritus of the University of Auckland and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1985, and more recently New Zealand’s highest honour, the ONZ.

Linda Cassells was educated at Trinity College Dublin, where she studied Modern Languages, and the University of Bath, where she gained a doctorate in Linguistics. Since the mid-1980s she has held senior roles in book publishing, most notably as long-standing publisher for Oxford University Press. She has served on industry-related advisory groups, including Creative New Zealand, the Publishers Association of New Zealand, and the Whitireia Publishing Programme. An editor and publisher by profession, she publishes non-fiction under her Calico imprint, and offers an international rights management service to select New Zealand authors. She is Terry Sturm’s widow and literary executor.

Alex Calder is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Auckland where he teaches New Zealand and American literature. He is interested in how writers from these countries have developed their understandings of place—which is one reason why Allen Curnow has been a central figure in his teaching and writing for many years.  His most recent book is The Settler’s Plot: How Stories Take Place in New Zealand (AUP, 2011).

Buy a single session $15.00 ($12.00 Concession). Bookings at


Earlier Event: 9 September
Contrary Creatures