C. K. Stead’s farewell on his NZ Poet Laureate blog

A month from now the new Poet Laureate will be named and my two-year stint will conclude. I was more than pleased to be named Laureate, since poetry has been the centre of my writing life, the part of it I always returned to with most pleasure, that seemed the most demanding, and the most satisfying when it went well – and the award came at a time in life (I was 82) when an end to writing of any kind could not be too far away – so perhaps a rounding off, a kind of culmination, an honour I valued probably more than any other. Although I had a few direct requests for ‘a Laureate poem’, and responded to these, and of course more invitations than usual to appear at festivals and readings, there was nothing particularly demanding about the role unless you made it so; and since it’s my temperament to pursue what Yeats calls ‘the fascination of what’s difficult’, I have made a bit of a burden of the Laureate blog. I have not been, and still am not, ‘a blog person’. The literary blogs I had read seemed as often as not vehicles for malice and gossip, and I did not want to go down that path. I did them, rather, as literary exercises, thinking aloud about whatever poetry theme or bit of local literary history happened to be exercising my mind at that time. So they have become a collection of literary essays, loosely autobiographical, which I suppose at some point might be published as a book. There have been so few reactions to them that I have never been sure whether I have been talking to myself, or to a small roomful, or more; I’ve only been certain that the bigger world out there, the world of crowds and popular culture, was not listening. But if they are publishable together the effort has not been wasted. For those who have read and commented on them, my grateful thanks!

For the complete post and Karl’s series as Poet Laureate see here.

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