9 April 2013

Writers' Walk, Dunedin, New Zealand

I've already made a post about the writers' plaques in Christchurch, but the 22 in Dunedin are much easier to locate because they're all together in the same area – in The Octagon in the heart of the city. I've arranged them in alphabetical order by surname:

'JAMES K. BAXTER
1926 – 1972
–––––––––––
King Robert, on your anvil stone
Above the lumbering Octagon,
to you I raise a brother's horn.
LETTER TO ROBERT BURNS (1967)

THE GIFTED, BAWDY & RELIGIOUS POET,
DUNEDIN-BORN JAMES K. BAXTER WAS
ROBERT BURNS FELLOW
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO IN 1967'.

'JOHN BARR
1809 – 1889
–––––––––––
Hurrah for Otago! We're now on our way,
Where there's plenty of work, and plenty to pay;
Hurrah for Otago! Our friends are before,
But the land of the heather we'll never see more.
"HURRAH FOR OTAGO" (1880)

DUNEDIN'S FIRST POET, JOHN BARR, LEFT SCOTLAND FOR
DUNEDIN IN 1852. HIS VERSE CELEBRATES THE FREEDOM
AND HARD WORK OF LIFE IN THE NEW COLONY.'

'THOMAS BRACKEN
1843 – 1898
–––––––––––
Behold the noble city towering high
Above the silver mirror framed in green!
JAMES MACANDREW (1890)
THOMAS BRACKEN, N.Z.'S MOST POPULAR 19TH CENTURY POET & AUTHOR OF "GOD DEFEND NEW ZEALAND",
PRAISED DUNEDIN EXTRAVANGANTLY IN HIS VERSE.'

CHARLES BRASCH
1909 – 1973
–––––––––––
"I grew to know most of the country about Dunedin,
all its variousness. It impressed itself on me so
strongly that it seemed to accompany me always,
becoming an interior landscape of my mind or
imagination, unchanging, archetypal..."
INDIRECTIONS (1980)

DUNEDIN-BORN POET, EDITOR AND PHILANTHROPIST
CHARLES BRASCH FOUNDED LANDFALL LITERARY
MAGAZINE IN THIS CITY IN 1947.'

'RUTH DALLAS
BORN 1919 [DIED 2008]
––––––––––––––––––––––
Some of them found time
To be photographed,
With bearded husband
And twelve or thirteen children
PIONEER WOMEN (1982)

INTERNATIONALLY PUBLISHED POET
AND CHILDREN'S AUTHOR
RUTH DALLAS WAS ROBERT BURNS FELLOW
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO IN 1968'

'LAURIS EDMOND
BORN 1924 [DIED 2000]
––––––––––––––––––––––
'we rather enjoyed the cold climate, our austere
circumstances, and that sense of living in a superior outpost
that Dunedin seemed to confer on its citizens.'
BONFIRES IN THE RAIN (1991)

POET LAURIS EDMOND SPENT 1946,
THE FIRST YEAR OF HER MARRIAGE,
IN DUNEDIN.'

'JANET FRAME
BORN 1924 [DIED 2004]
––––––––––––––––––––––
Having been to church the people are good, quiet,
with sober drops at the end of their cold, Dunedin noses
with polite old-fashioned sentences like Pass the Cruet,
and, later, attentive glorying in each other's roses.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON AT TWO O'CLOCK (1967)

IINTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED NOVELIST JANET FRAME
WROTE POETRY DURING HER TERM AS 1965
ROBERT BURNS FELLOW
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO.'

'A. P. GASKELL
1913 – 2006
–––––––––––
"The football match at Carisbrook was over ... inside
the dressing room there was a strong human smell of
sweaty togs, muddy boots and warm bodies as the
men came prancing back naked from the showers
and stood on the seats drying themselves."
"THE BIG GAME" AND OTHER STORIES )1947

ALEXANDER GASKELL PICKARD – WRITER, SPORTSMAN, TEACHER, WATERCOLOURIST – GRADUATED FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO AND ITS RUGBY TEAM IN 1936.'

'DENIS GLOVER
1912 – 1960
–––––––––––
Over the harbour waters
A slow-gonged clock
Floats the hours and the quarters
DUNEDIN REVISITED (1951)
IN THIS POEM DUNEDIN-BORN DENIS GLOVER – POET,
PRINTER & HUMOURIST – DESCRIBES THE CHIMES OF
DUNEDIN TOWN HALL CLOCK."

'JOAN DE HAMEL
BORN 1924 [DIED 2011]
–––––––––––
What more could anyone want
than their own land down on the shoreline
and the whole Pacific Ocean as a boundary fence.
HIDEAWAY (1992)

JOAN DE HAMEL'S FIRST BOOK, "X MARKS THE SPOT",
WAS A LANDMARK IN NEW ZEALAND CHILDREN'S LITERATURE. SHE CAME TO DUNEDIN IN 1963
AND HAS LIVED ON THE OTAGO PENINULA EVER SINCE."

'ROGER HALL
BORN 1939
–––––––––––
In Dunedin it rains in the summer only when a national sporting event
held in the city is being televised live.

A DUNEDIN VIEW (1989)
ROGER HALL, NEW ZEALAND'S MOST SUCCESSFUL PLAYWRIGHT, LIVED IN DUNEDIN FROM 1977 TO 1995. HE WAS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THE CITY'S CULTURAL LIFE AND A LOYAL DEFENDER OF THE LOCAL WEATHER.'

'JOHN HAMILTON
1827 – 1893
–––––––––––
Poor Robbie Burns, we are all very much your debtor,
And while you lived we should have used you better;
For though you lived and died in poverty;
You left to us a priceless legacy

WRITTEN AND READ BY
THE BURNS CLUB FOUNDER JOHN HAMILTON AT THE
FIRST ANNIVERSARY MEETING 1892'

'ROBIN HYDE
1906 – 1939
–––––––––––
It was a Sunday afternoon, and there seemed little in Dunedin
but the echo of morning chimes, like lazy bees in a stone
foxglove, and little trams bouncing along to the suburbs.
NOR THE YEARS CONDEMN (1938)

THE JOURNALISM, POETRY & NOVELS OF ROBIN HYDE
WERE LARGELY FORGOTTEN UNTIL THE 1950s.
SHE IS NOW REGARDED AS A MAJOR N.Z. WRITER.'

'WITI IHIMAERA
BORN 1944
–––––––––––
We are in another country/Scotitanga/Where brass bands play,
people fling to Scottish music in Moray Place, ladies of the
Salvation Army palm ribboned tambourines, and spines shiver
and snap in the cold.
DEEP SOUTH/IMPRESSIONS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY (1975)

WITI IHIMAERA, THE FIRST MAORI NOVELIST
TO BE PUBLISHED, WAS 1975
ROBERT BURNS FELLOW
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO'

'CHRISTINE JOHNSTON
BORN 1950
–––––––––––
... a city built in stone on half a century of gold from the
hinterland, a wealthy little city where the rich inhabited the
hills and looked out to sea and the poor inhabited the flat
and looked at each other.
BLESSED ART THOU AMONG WOMEN (1991)

CHRISTINE JOHNSTON'S FIRST NOVEL
IS SET IN HER HOME TOWN, DUNEDIN.'

'JOHN A. LEE
1891 – 1982
–––––––––––
... although Dunedin was one of the most prosperous and God-
fearing cities in the new and rich country of New Zealand,
there was poverty in the land and ... we were poor even amid
poverty.
CHILDREN OF THE POOR (1934)

JOHN A. LEE'S HARSH CHILDHOOD IN DUNEDIN
INSPIRED HIS LATER CONTRIBUTIONS TO N.Z. LITERATURE,
POLITICS & SOCIAL REFORM.'

'CILLA MCQUEEN
BORN 1949
–––––––––––
"At this hour, Dunedin is asleep
The cat is asleep in the valley of bedclothes
The chrysalis on the kowai tree
is silvery with frost"
BERLIN DIARY (1990)

ENGLISH-BORN POET CILLA MCQUEEN SPENT HER
FORMATIVE YEARS IN DUNEDIN.
IMAGES OF THIS CITY – ITS LIFE & ITS LANDSCAPES –
ARE WOVEN THROUGH HER AWARD-WINNING WORK.'

'DENNIS MCELDOWNEY
BORN 1924 [DIED 2003]
––––––––––––––––––––––
Dunedin is a place where it is front page headline news if
someone has a fire in their wardrobe.
FULL OF THE WARM SOUTH (1983)

AUTHOR & EDITOR DENNIS MCELDOWNEY SPENT FOUR YEARS IN DUNEDIN DURING THE 1960s.'

'ALFRED HAMISH REED
1875 – 1975
–––––––––––
Otago was believed to be bleak and cold ... this amusing
mistaken notion is still held by people in the northern
sub-tropical parts of New Zealand.
THE STORY OF NEW ZEALAND (1945)

WRITER & BENEFACTOR SIR ALFRED REED AND HIS NEPHEW WYCLIF FOUNDED THE N.Z.–AUSTRALIAN PUBLISHING HOUSE OF A.H. & A.W. REED IN DUNEDIN.'

'FRANK SARGESON
1905 – 1982
–––––––––––
... they behaved in a manner similar to what I was shortly
afterwards to encounter in Dunedin – that is to say they had
the time, with as well plenty to spare without grudge or
impatience.
NEVER ENOUGH! (1977)

SHORT-STORY WRITER FRANK SARGESON,
PIONEER OF THE LITERARY USE OF COLLOQUIAL N.Z. SPEECH, VISITED DUNEDIN IN 1951.'

'HONE TUWHARE
BORN 1922 [DIED 2008]
––––––––––––––––––––––
"It didn't make a grand entrance and I nearly
missed it – tip-toeing up on me as it did
when I was half asleep and suddenly, they're there
before my eyes – white pointillist flakes
on a Hotere canvas – swirling about untethered."
SNOWFALL (1982)

NORTHLAND-BORN POET HONE TUWHARE CAME TO DUNEDIN IN 1969 TO TAKE UP THE ROBERT BURNS FELLOWSHIP, AND STAYED 23 YEARS.'

'BRIAN TURNER
BORN 1944
–––––––––––
"... and soon, across the bay, a white sail
leaned on the burnished sea
and the morning billowed
becoming bluer."
PORTOBELLO BAY (1992)

THE WORK OF POET BRIAN TURNER REFLECTS THE
LANDSCAPES AND MOODS OF HIS NATIVE OTAGO.'

ADDENDUM:

'DAN DAVIN
1913 – 1990
–––––––––––
"...the blue of the hills and the Scotch mist were more
beautiful than I had remembered them. I shall regret
not having come here sooner and stayed longer."

PERSONAL DIARY ENTRY ON RETURN TO DUNEDIN (1948)

UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO RHODES SCHOLAR, NOVELIST, CRITIC AND
PUBLISHER AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS. REMEMBERED
FOR THE LEGENDARY HOSPITALITY TO VISITING NZ WRITERS.

WRITERS WALK CITY OF DUNEDIN'

Many thanks to Tony Eyre of Dunedin for providing the above image and who adds ‘the 23rd plaque was installed in 2015 as part of the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival and not long after Dunedin was designated a UNESCO City of Literature.’

The links below may also be of interest:

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
The Wellington Writers Walk, North Island, New Zealand

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