Story: Poetry

Poster for Four New Zealand Poets tour, 1979 (1st of 4)

Poster for Four New Zealand Poets tour, 1979

Jan Kemp was the only woman among the four poets who toured around the country giving poetry readings in the winter of 1979. In the programme notes put out by the New Zealand Students' Arts Council, she was described, in the condescending tones of the day as 'Jan Kemp, the youngest – and prettiest? – of the four poets on tour, was born in that suicide city, Hamilton, 1949.' The programme notes included Kemp's tribute to a poetic father-figure, R. A. K. Mason:

I came unasked to your funeral;
the solemn men, dark-coated,
your friends, give you their pass
to heaven by a natural door:
we were to have lauded you,
you died a week too soon.
From where I stand on the edge
I hear your words they read –
through the windows of the chapel,
I see cabbage tree flax, flat and flex,
licking the blue sky,
a whip in a green wind.
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J. C. Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington Library
Reference: NZSA90181

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How to cite this page:

John Newton, 'Poetry - The 1970s and the ‘Freed’ generation', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 April 2024)

Story by John Newton, published 22 Oct 2014