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Poet Laureate, wherefore art thou...
July 2013
Current New Zealand Poet Laureate Ian Wedde

The National Library of New Zealand is inviting nominations for the next New Zealand Poet Laureate.

Well you can't swing a cat in Kapiti without hitting a Poet so here is a chance for a local to have a crack at the big one.

The award celebrates outstanding contributions to New Zealand poetry. For a two-year term, the Laureate is supported by an $80,000 grant from the National Library, through the Alexander Turnbull Library, to create new work and promote poetry throughout the country.

"Each Laureate quite literally brings a new voice to their term," said Chris Szekely, the Chief Librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL). "They are expected to be an advocate and a public presence for poetry, and involved in events which promote the reading and writing of poetry by children and adults alike."

The National Library considers public nominations for the award together with nominations from New Zealand libraries, universities and creative writing programmes. The Laureate is appointed by the ATL Chief Librarian in consultation with the New Zealand Poet Laureate Advisory Group.

As well as the financial support over two years, the Laureate receives a stipend of wine from Te Mata Estate (which created the award in 1996) and an individual tokotoko, or ceremonial carved walking stick.

A key part of the award is the creation of a published work. Current Laureate, Ian Wedde had The Lifeguard published in May 2013. This publication included a sequence of poems Shadow Stands Up that first appeared on the Poet Laureate Blog.

The Te Mata Estate Poets Laureate were Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Smither, Brian Turner, Jenny Bornholdt. The National Library, which has run the award since 2007, has appointed Michele Leggott, Cilla McQueen and in 2011 the current New Zealand Poet Laureate, Ian Wedde.

More information (and nomination forms):

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