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Ian Wedde Biography

(1946– ), Homage to Matisse, Made Over, Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos, Pathway to the Sea, Castaly

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New Zealand poet, novelist, critic, and editor, born in Blenheim, New Zealand, educated mainly in England and at the University of Auckland. Wedde's evocative clarity of image and lyricism were already evident in his early poem sequence Homage to Matisse (1971), published while he was briefly resident in London. Made Over (1974) showed the influence of William Carlos Williams's poetics. Wedde's publications tend to be ‘stations’ of his life; Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos (1975) was written after the birth of his first son, while the long poem Pathway to the Sea (1975) is a local protest against the ecological destruction of an untouched beachline by an aluminium smelter. More sinister visions and extended form characterize the later collections Castaly (1980) and Tales of Gotham City (1984), written in the 1970s when Wedde was also creating theatre scripts and co-editing a tabloid, Spleen. Other collections of poems are Georgicon (1984), Tendering (1989), Driving into the Storm (1987; selected poems), and The Drummer (1993). Wedde's experimental novel Dick Seddon's Great Dive (1976) was followed by the comic Survival Arts (1981) and the much acclaimed Symmes Hole (1986). His editions (co-edited) of The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1985) and of The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry (1989) seek to make a genuine intervention in New Zealand culture, particularly in their inclusion of poems in Maori and in their reassessment of some previously undervalued women poets. A collection of writings, How to Be Nowhere: Essays and Texts, 1968–1993 was published in 1995.

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