Last night CK Stead was awarded the 2015 NZ Poet Laureateship at the National Library in Parnell with the support of friends and family.
Chris Szekel, Head Librarian at The Alexander Turnball Library, and responsible for the award, steered the speeches.
Ian Wedde, as a former Laureate said a few words, The RT Hon Maggie Barry, as Minister of the Arts, said a few words and then it was over to Karl.
Karl underlined how poetry had been a significant part of his life from an early age: ‘Poetry found me in Mt Albert Grammar School library’ and ‘Poetry has always been somewhere near the centre of my consciousness.’ He added: ‘Poetry is still close to the centre of my life, otherwise I would not have accepted this award.’
He acknowledged presences (atua) in the room with him (Allen Curnow, Kendrick Smithyman, Bill Pearson, Maurice Shadbolt, Maurice Duggan, Keith Sinclair). His fellow writers. I found this very moving.
He acknowledged writers in the room and his family.
Karl read two poems, ‘Look Who’s Talking’ and ‘Crossing Cook Strait,’ suggesting the writers behind these poems, James K Baxter and Curnow, would have been Laureates if the award had existed then.
It was very clear that this writer, writes out of mesh of poetic relationships. Vitally so.
I drove back west from a lovely occasion – full of the warmth generated by a shared love of poetry and admiration of one of our most esteemed poets. It touched me.