Story: Poetry

Allen Curnow, 1946

Allen Curnow, 1946

Clifton Firth's portrait of Allen Curnow records him during a time when he had considerable influence in the New Zealand world of poetry. He had already published a number of his best-known shorter poems, and was living in Christchurch where the Caxton Press was located. In the previous year, 1945, Caxton had published A book of New Zealand verse, in which Curnow presented a view of New Zealand poetry from a nationalist viewpoint. He was uncomfortable with New Zealand poetry that had a sentimental attitude to New Zealand symbols such as birds, trees and Māori myths, and instead wished to establish a national poetry that was based on what he saw as a hard and honest response to the New Zealand situation.

Using this item

Auckland City Libraries – Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Reference: 34-C519
Photograph by Clifton Firth

Permission of Auckland City Libraries Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

John Newton, 'Poetry - Allen Curnow and literary nationalism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 September 2023)

Story by John Newton, published 22 Oct 2014