Symposium on the life and works of Allen Curnow

01 August 2017
Allen Curnow

The life and work of one of New Zealand's greatest poets will be celebrated at a special symposium on Saturday 30 September.

Allen Curnow (1911–2001) had a distinguished writing career from the 1930s through to his last published volume in 2001. His poems  published over 70 years, in 15 volumes and half a dozen collections  constitute an enduring legacy and have been hailed as "a unique exploration, passionate and humane, of life in this country".

Now Auckland University Press is publishingThe Collected Poems of Allen Curnow along with a major biography, Simply by Sailing in a New Direction, by the late Professor Terry Sturm.

Both books will be launched at the University of Auckland on Friday 29 September with the symposium following the next day and open to interested staff, students, alumni and the general public.

"The publication of these two works is a landmark cultural and literary event," says the symposium organiser, Associate Professor Alex Calder.

"It is an occasion in which the University of Auckland and the Faculty of Arts can take great pride. Professor Terry Sturm and Associate Professor Allen Curnow were members of the University’s English Department for most of their working lives."

Alex says Curnow is central to the mid-century search for what was distinct and special about New Zealand's place and history.

"Curnow is to poetry, as McCahon is to art, as Lilburn is to music. They invented a New Zealand tradition."

The symposium will open with a keynote address from Emeritus Professor of English, C.K. Stead. Throughout the day many of our best-known poets and critics will present papers and share personal reminiscences.


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