A lot of authors born in Taranaki have left the province on a permanent basis, to become successful or dead. The successful ones are Anthony McCarten and Stuart Hoar from New Plymouth; Dinah Hawken, Gaelyn Gordon, and Fiona Kidman from Hawera; June Opie from Mokau; Fleur Beale from Inglewood; Shonagh Koea from Eltham; Graeme Lay from Opunake, also Jackie Sturm, quondam wife of James K Baxter, and a much nicer human being to deal with; and Sylvia Ashton-Warner from Stratford. The dead one was Frank S Anthony of Midhirst, who wrote his gentle, innocent Me and Gus stories of dairy farms up skinny shingle roads and tongue-tied young men in hairy sports-coats, then sailed for England with a suitcase – a suitcase – of manuscripts, and died from TB in a Bournemouth boarding house in 1927.
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Lots of poets have connections to Taranaki but I would spotlight Michele Leggott who was born and raised in Stratford and whose latest book Vanishing Points offers numerous returns. I am going to talk about this glorious book with Michele at some point this year for my blog. I loved it. One of my top poetry reads in 2017.