I was born in the south of New Zealand on the coast and raised there in a small seaside town. I was the oldest of a family of seven children. I started writing when I was seven years old - poems and stories about primroses and pixies, reflecting the fact that our reading in the fifties was very much orientated towards England, the 'old country' (it would take another fifteen years before New Zealand's own stories and culture were embraced and taught as part of the school curriculum). My stories and poems were then posted to the local, provincial newspaper's 'Children's Pages'.
I left home in the 1970s to go to Teacher's College and became a primary teacher. I continued to write, but never saw it as my main occupation. That didn't come until much later, after I was married and the mother of three sons. I focussed mainly on writing poetry as it suited me (and I guess still does) to write in a condensed form. Slowly I began to see my poems get accepted by literary magazines.
After building up a body of work for about ten years, I finally had enough for a first collection of poetry. This was published by Otago University Press and won the Best first Book of Poetry prize at the NZ Book Awards. Since then I have had another collection published and am curently working on my third collection titled 'Born To A Red-headed Woman'. I have also had some success with having short stories published and I am plotting a novel.
I work part-time as an early childhood educator and my writing gets squeezed into whatever time I have off, plus whatever time is free from family commitments - especially now that I am a grandmother of five.
After I got over Enid Blyton (a favourite of my childhood) Katherine Mansfield became an early influence. I was interested in trying to grasp how she described things. The poets Dylan Thomas, Christina Rossetti, Eleanor Farjeon, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Keats et al were also early influences. Once again, how they described - especially their way of getting into the very fibre of nature and landscape. I found it irresistible and for a time, nature and landscape were my only subjects too. Later I stopped looking so far afield for my influences and found that local, NZ voices were more applicable to my own experience. Recently I find that I range the world over for influences both in poetry and in my prose writing. Some of whom I list below: 'Cancer Ward' 'Anne of Green Gables' 'Berlin Diary' by Cilla McQueen 'Jane Eyre' 'Possession' by AS Byatt 'A House for Mr Biswas' by VS Naipaul 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen & poets/writers Cilla McQueen Ruth Dallas Judith Wright May Swenson Katherine Mansfield Jack Vance Tim Winton Anne Tyler VS Naipaul Wislawa Szymborska Margaret Forster Anne Patchett Etgar Keret James Thurber Kurt Vonnegut Wallace Stevens Louis MacNeice Amy Clampitt Denise Levertov Fleur Adcock Diane Wakoski John Dolan Katherine Liddy Les Murray Michael Longley Richard Reeve Dylan Thomas John Donne Emily Dickinson + a whole lot more
'Born To A Red-headed Woman' (my third poetry collection).
Otago University Press
Writing, walking, reading, movies, listening to music, photography ...
NZ Forest and Bird
Riding for the Disabled
© 2013 Red Room Omnimedia Corporation. All rights reserved.