Poet laureate, David Eggleton, has tenure extended due to Covid-19 disruption

By Stuff.co.nz | Posted: Monday October 12, 2020

New Zealands poet laureate, David Eggleton, will get more time to write and perform after Covid-19 compromised his two-year tenure as laureate.

Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand has extended his term by an extra year to give Eggleton the ability to deliver live, on-site performances around the country.

“Due to the lockdown and social distancing requirements, we felt it only fair to offer Eggleton the opportunity of a third year,” Alexander Turnbull Library chief librarian Chris Szekely said.

While Eggleton’s “been delivering brilliantly through online channels... for someone who is known as an outstanding live-performance poet, it was particularly unfortunate that this aspect has been impacted by the pandemic,” Szekely said.

His tenure will now end in August 2022.

Poet laureates are appointed for a two-year term. They perform at live events, festivals and work towards publishing new books of poetry.

They are expected to advocate and be a public presence for New Zealand poetry, and to be involved in events that promote the reading and writing of poetry.

According to Eggleton the poet is “an essential worker”. They help the world go around, he said.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to get up, get out and sock the beachball of poetry about, for a while longer in my role as New Zealand’s poet laureate.”

Eggleton is in Hawke’s Bay this weekend for his inauguration as poet laureate at Matahiwi Marae.

He will perform alongside fellow poets Michael O’Leary, Jenny Powell, and Kay McKenzie Cooke at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts Centre.

He will then perform at the WORD Christchurch Spring Festival and next month he will perform live as part of the nationwide tour ‘Say It With Flowers’.

The Te Mata Estate Laureate Award from 1996 to 2007 named Bill Manhire, Hone Tuwhare, Elizabeth Smither, Brian Turner and Jenny Bornholdt as Laureates.

From 2007, the National Library took over, naming Michele Leggott, Cilla McQueen, Ian Wedde, Vincent O’Sullivan, CK Stead and Selina Tusitala Marsh.

The award recognises an accomplished and highly-regarded poet who can advocate for New Zealand poetry and inspire current and future readers and writers of poetry.

Each laureate receives a tokotoko, which symbolises their authority and status, and $80,000.


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