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Bill Manhire Biography

(1946– ), Freed, The Elaboration, How To Take Off Your Clothes At a Picnic, Good Looks

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Madras House to Harriet Martineau Biography

New Zealand poet and short-story writer, born in Invercargill, educated at the University of Otago and at University College, London. His early work appeared in the seminal magazine Freed, along with that of Ian Wedde and Murray Edmond. As Reader in the Department of English at Victoria University, Wellington, Manhire inaugurated a creative writing course which has had a strong influence on the work of younger poets and novelists. His collections The Elaboration (1972), How To Take Off Your Clothes At a Picnic (1977), Good Looks (1982), Zoetropes: Poems 1979–82 (1984), and Milky Way Bar (1991) are characterized by restraint in language and a minimalist but playful surface. He includes unusual and complex extremes in his poems. Uncertainty and humour are also characteristic of Manhire's tone, along with a bemused use of cliché and a sense that language will always fall short of what the poet is attempting to convey. Manhire has also produced the short stories The New Land: A Picture Book (1990) and South Pacific (1994). The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (1989) is a quirky collection of prose pieces.

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