Poet laureate's tenure extended after Hawke's Bay inauguration

By NZ Herald | Posted: Wednesday October 14, 2020

David Eggleton was inaugurated as New Zealand's poet laureate at Matahiwi Marae near Clive on Saturday, with his tenure in the role being extended another year.

Poet laureates are appointed to advocate and be a public presence for New Zealand poetry over a two-year term by Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand.

Eggleton began in the role in August 2019, but due to his skill as a live performance poet and the limitations imposed on that by Covid-19, his term has been extended through 2022.

He said in his estimation the poet is an essential worker: "Poems help the world go around, and 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 performed at Toitoi - Hawkes Bay Arts & Events Centre on Saturday evening with fellow poets Michael O'Leary, Jenny Powell and Kay McKenzie Cooke.

Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library Chris Szekely said it was only fair to give Eggleton more time after the ability of the Laureate to deliver live onsite performances around the country was compromised by the lockdown and social distancing requirements.

"David has been delivering brilliantly through online channels," he said.

"However, for someone who is known as an outstanding live performance poet, it was particularly unfortunate that this aspect has been impacted by the pandemic."

The Poet Laureate Award has been bestowed since 1996 to recognise 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 their own tokotoko, or carved orator's stick, which symbolises their authority and status, and receives $80,000.


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