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Ian Wedde  [ New Zealand ]

Biography

Ian Wedde Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2014.

Bibliography

Dick Seddon’s Great Dive

Robin Dudding Auckland, 1976

Making Ends Meet Essays and Talks 1992–2004

Victoria University Wellington, 2005

The Catastrophe

Victoria University Wellington, 2011

The Lifeguard Poems 2008–2013

Auckland University Auckland, 2013

The Grass Catcher A Digression about Home

Victoria UniversityWellington, 2014

Ian Wedde was born in 1946 in the New Zealand town of Blenheim. He spent his childhood in East Pakistan and England. He obtained a Masters in English at the University of Auckland. A long-time art critic for the daily newspaper »The Evening Post«, he also worked as an editor, translator and curator and, from 1994 to 2004, was head of the art department of the Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum in Wellington. From 2011 to 2014 he taught in Auckland at the faculties of art history and English.

Wedde has published a total of fifteen books of poetry, half a dozen novels, as well as the short story collection, »The Shirt Factory« (1981). His art criticism and essays on culture are collected in the volumes, »How to be Nowhere« (1995) and »Making Ends Meet« (2005). In addition to several contributions to artists catalogues, Wedde is also responsible for an extensive monograph on the internationally renowned light installation artist, Bill Culbert. His prose debut, the novel, »Dick Seddon’s Great Dive« (1976), preserves the counter-culture imperatives of the early seventies with an experimental narrative mode of a kind which, in its day, received the enthusiastic endorsement of literary criticism but later became a source of political controversy. A reworking of a Pacific tale full of hallucinated parenthesis and winking literary references, the novel »Symmes Hole« (1986), testifies to the poetic power of Wedde’s prose, whilst more recent work such as »The Viewing Platform« (2006) and »The Catastrophe« (2011) are characterized by satirically coloured observations of the present. Combining a penchant for alliteration, rhapsodic accuracy and fine humour, Wedde’s latest collection of poetry, »The Lifeguard« (2013) presents his mature reflections on natural and cultural history. In it he revives characters from Theokritos’ and Ovid’s poetry and makes portraits of friends and relatives or amalgamations of personal dialogues, thoughts and memories. His recently published book »The Grass Catcher: A digression about home« (2014) discusses ideas of home and deals with Wedde’s own genealogical origins, including those of his great-grandparents, who emigrated to New Zealand in 1875 from Schleswig-Holstein.

Wedde has been the recipient of numerous residencies and awards, including the New Zealand National Book Award (1977), the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (1978), the Fulbright Travel Award (2006) and the Landfall Essay Prize (2010). In 2010 he received the title of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and the following year he was named Poet Laureate of New Zealand. He is currently Creative New Zealand Writer-in-Residence in Berlin.

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