First complete edition of Katherine Mansfield’s poems

By Otago University Press | Posted: Thursday November 3, 2016

Oh God! I am divided still. I am bad. I fail in my personal life. I lapse into impatience, temper, vanity & so I fail as thy priest. Perhaps poetry will help. – Katherine Mansfield, 1921 diary entry

Katherine Mansfield, iconic writer and perhaps New Zealand’s best-known literary export, is primarily known for her short stories. But as this new collection shows, Mansfield also thought of herself as a poet.

This is the first stand-alone complete edition of Katherine Mansfield’s poetry. A highlight is the inclusion of 26 previously unpublished poems discovered in 2015. These are part of ‘The Earth Child’, a 1910 poetry cycle that co-editor Gerri Kimber stumbled across in the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Kimber was amazed when she realised: ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes!’ Because Mansfield herself destroyed much personal information dating from her early twenties, a period Kimber calls ‘a really difficult time’ for the young writer, the publication of these early works offers the reader an opportunity to make new discoveries about Mansfield the woman and the writer.

The contents of this collection range from the 1903 ‘Little Fronds’ poems (written by a 14-year-old Kathleen Beauchamp) to published works and later fragments – there is only one poem each for the years 1921 and 1922, when Mansfield’s illness was more advanced.

The collection contains 217 poems, ordered chronologically, as well as an introduction and extensive annotations. The separate Notes section provides illuminating biographical and contextual information, which adds further to the richness of this accessible yet scholarly edition.

This affordable hardback gift edition is a superb testimony to Mansfield’s development as a writer. From the juvenilia to the late work, Kimber says, there are ‘flashes of brilliance ... in almost every poem’.

The Collected Poems of Katherine Mansfield
Edited by Gerri Kimber and Claire Davison
Release Date: November 2016
ISBN 978-1-877578-81-6
$35, hardback with ribbon
Published in association with Edinburgh University Press

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