From 'margins' to Poet Laureate

Dunedin poet, writer, reviewer and former Burns Fellow David Eggleton has been appointed as the latest New Zealand Poet Laureate.

This honour was something he never dreamed of as an outsider, a performance poet who was considered almost an "anti-poet", back in the 1980s, he said.

"I was on the margins. I have gradually found myself moving towards the centre.

"I was listening to Bob Dylan on the radio with one ear; with the other ear I was listening to recordings of Dylan Thomas."

New Zealand Poet Laureate David Eggleton reads part of his poem The Steepest Street in the World...
New Zealand Poet Laureate David Eggleton reads part of his poem The Steepest Street in the World at Dunedin’s Baldwin St yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The National Library has announced his two-year term as poet laureate starts today, which is National Poetry Day.

He felt "humbled, honoured and excited" to succeed Selina Tusitala Marsh, of Auckland, as poet laureate.

"I see the role of poet laureate as promoting the appreciation of poetry in the community, and everywhere - schools, theatres, nightclubs, festivals, as well as overseas and in the media.

"I will be advocating for a more public presence of poetry and for events that celebrate the craft of poetry."

He did not want to seem "too big for my boots", and his new post was separate from Dunedin's role as a Unesco City of Literature.

Nevertheless, his appointment fitted in well with Dunedin's Unesco role, which was "very significant for Dunedin".

The poet laureate receives $100,000 over the two-year term.

The former editor of literary journal Landfall has published eight books of poetry and won many awards, including the Reviewer of the Year Award six times at the New Zealand Book Awards.

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