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Louis Johnson Biography

(1924–88), Numbers, Stanza and Scene

New Zealand poet, born in Wellington; he grew up in the rural areas of the North Island, and was educated at the Teachers' Training College in Wellington. Johnson spent some time in America during the 1970s, and in Melbourne, as a freelance writer, before returning to New Zealand in the 1980s. In the 1950s his poetry was important for its affirmation of the value and validity of ordinary suburban life in a period when this representative New Zealand experience was often ignored, if not derided. Like James K. Baxter and Mike Doyle, with both of whom he edited the magazine Numbers (195460), Johnson did not espouse the nationalistic reading of New Zealand imaginative history promulgated by Allen Curnow. His acknowledged influences were Pound and Auden. Johnson's first collection, Stanza and Scene (1945), struck a representative prophetic tone, which The Sun among the Ruins: Myths of the Living and the Dead (1951) continued. Later collections include The Dark Glass (1955); Bread and a Pension (1964), a collection which included an experimental section; Fires and Patters (1976), which won the first New Zealand Poetry Book of the Year Award; Coming and Going (1982); Winter Apples (1984); and Confessions of the Last Cannibal (1986). Johnson's Last Poems appeared posthumously in 1990.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography