Bill Manhire

ANZL Member

Award winning poet, fiction and creative non-fiction writer Bill Manhire has been a significant figure in the promotion of New Zealand poetry and literature. He is particularly known for founding New Zealand’s first creative writing program through Victoria University. Graduates of this include many leading poets, fiction writers and script writers. Regarded as one of the greatest New Zealand poets of his era, Bill was New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate (1997-1998), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. His awards include the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, an Arts Foundation laureateship, and New Zealand Book Award for Poetry (four times) and the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award (2018). He is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and holds an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Otago. He has participated in numerous festivals nationally and internationally.

Born in Invercargill in 1946, Bill grew up in small hotels in Otago and Southland, a world he evokes in his short memoir, Under the Influence (Four Winds Press, 2003). Since his first book of poems, The Elaboration (Square & Circle, 1972), he has published multiple award-winning collections of poetry, most recently Selected Poems (Victoria UP, NZ; Carcanet, UK, 2014). A celebration of his short fiction is collected in The Stories of Bill Manhire (Victoria UP, 2015). For poetry and prose, Bill has been awarded a number of significant fellowships, including the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, France (2004). Through the Antarctica New Zealand Arts Fellowship (1997) he was one of only a few poets to have ever reached the South Pole. Bill’s work is also widely anthologised in New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Anthologies he has edited include The Wide White Page: Writers Imagine Antarctica (Victoria UP, 2004), The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (Victoria UP, 2011) and Are Angels OK? (Victoria UP, 2006) a sci-art collaboration between New Zealand writers and physicists.

Bill has worked with Norman Meehan and Hannah Griffin on a range of music projects, from which a number of CDs have resulted including Making Baby Float, Buddhist Rain and Tell Me My Name, a song cycle of riddles and charms.

His latest collection Wow (Victoria UP, 2020) was longlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Wow begins with the song of an extinct bird and journeys on into troubling futures. These poems reach for the possibilities of lyric, even as their worlds are being threatened in a range of agitating ways. In the title poem we hear a baby say Wow to life and to the astonishing prospect of language; but almost immediately we hear the world reply: Also. ‘Being the leading poet in New Zealand is like being the best DJ in Estonia, impressive enough on its own terms. But Bill Manhire imore than that: he’s unquestionably world-class. As with Seamus Heaney, you get a sense of someone with a steady hand on the tiller, and both the will and the craft to take your breath away.’ Teju Cole.




Bill Manhire on Twitter

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

NZ Electronic Poetry Centre bibliography

Victoria University Press author page

NZ Poetry Shelf review and interview regarding The Stories of Bill Manhire (May, 2016)

Radio New Zealand interview (Nov, 2015)

NZ Listener interview (Feb, 2013)

New releases by Bill Manhire

Wow (poetry)

Published by Victoria University Press on December 17, 2020

Bibliography: Bill Manhire



Wow (Victoria UP, 2020)

Some Things to Place in a Coffin (Victoria UP, 2017)

Tell Me My Name (Riddles set to music by Norman Meehan and sung by Hannah Griffin; Victoria UP, 2017)

Selected Poems (Victoria UP, 2012; Carcanet, Manchester, 2014)

These Rough Notes (Book and CD with Anne Noble, Norman Meehan, Hannah Griffin. Poetry, images, music: Victoria UP, 2012)

The Victims of Lightning (Victoria UP, 2010)

Lifted (Victoria UP, 2018, 2005; Carcanet Press, Manchester, 2007)

Pine (By Ralph Hotere with poems by Bill Manhire. Dunedin : Otakou Press, 2005)

Collected Poems (Victoria UP, 2001.  Manchester: Carcanet, 2002)

What to Call Your Child (Godwit/Random, 1999)

Homelight : an Antarctic Miscellany (By Nigel Brown, Bill Manhire & Chris Orsman, written at Scott Base, Antarctica: Pemmican Press, 1998)

My Sunshine (Victoria UP, 1996)

Sheet Music : Poems 1967-1982 (Victoria UP, 1996)

Milky Way Bar (Victoria UP, 1991; Manchester : Carcanet,,Manchester 1992)  [Poetry Book Society Recommendation]

The old man’s example (Wrist & Anchor Press, 1990)

Zoetropes : Poems, 1972-82 (Allen & Unwin, Sysdney; Port Nicholson Press, Wellington; Carcanet, Manchester, 1984)

Good Looks (Auckland UP, 1982)

Declining the Naked Horse (Poem by Bill Manhire. Music by Mark Langford: University of Otago, Dept of Music, 1981)

Dawn, Water (Hawk Press, 1979)

Riddles for voice and piano (By Gillian Whitehead. Poems by Bill Manhire: Photographic Service [Music Reproductions], London 1978)

How to Take Off Your Clothes at the Picnic : Poems (Wai-te-ata Press, 1977)

The Elaboration : Poems (Drawings by Ralph Hotere: Square & Circle, 1972)

Malady (Printed by John McIndoe Ltd for the Amphedesma Press, 1970)



The Stories of Bill Manhire. (Short fiction: Victoria UP, 2015)

Songs of My Life (Short fiction: Godwit, 1996)

South Pacific (Short fiction: Carcanet, 1994)

The New Land: a Picture Book (Short fiction: Heinemann Reed, 1990)

The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (Auckland UP, 1988)


Creative Nonfiction

Under the Influence ([Creative non-fiction/memoir] Series editor Lloyd Jones: Four Winds Press, 2003)

Doubtful Sounds: essays and interviews (Victoria UP, 2000)



The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (Co-edited with Damien Wilkins: Victoria UP, 2011)

Storms Will Tell: Janet Frame’s Selected Poems (Co-edited with Pamela Gordon & Denis Harold; introduction by Bill Manhire: Bloodaxe Books, 2008) [Also US and Australian editions]

Some Other Country : New Zealand’s Best Short Stories (With Marion McLeod: Unwin Paperbacks; Port Nicholson Press, 1984, 1992, 1997; VUP, 2008)

Still Shines When You Think of It: A Festschrift for Vincent O’Sullivan (Co-edited with Peter Whiteford: Victoria UP, 2007)

Janet Frame: The Goose Bath – Poems (Co-edited with Pamela Gordo & Denis Harold;  introduction by Bill Manhire: Vintage/Random, 2006)

Are Angels OK? The Parallel Universes of New Zealand Writers and Scientists (Co-edited with Paul Callaghan: Victoria UP, 2006)

121 New Zealand Poems (Chosen by Bill Manhire: Godwit/Random, 2005)

The Wide White Page : Writers Imagine Antarctica (Victoria UP, 2004)

Spectacular Babies: new writing (Co-edited with Karen Anderson: Flamingo, 2001)

Mutes and Earthquakes : Bill Manhire’s Creative Writing Course at Victoria (Victoria UP, 1997)

1396, a Literary Calendar : 13 works, hand-set & hand-printed (By 13 participants in Bill Manhire’s 1996 Original Composition Class at Victoria University of Wellington: Wai-te ata Press, 1996)

Selected Poems (By Denis Glover, ed. Bill Manhire: Victoria UP, 1995)

100 New Zealand Poems  (Godwit, 1993)

Soho Square. Four (Bridget Williams Books, 1991; London: Bloomsbury, 1991)

Six by Six : Stories by New Zealand’s Best Writers (Victoria UP, 1989)

Province : new Nelson writing (Edited by Rachel Bush, Carol Markwell; with consultant editor, Bill Manhire: Nelson Provincial Arts Council, 1987)

NZ Listener Short Stories (Methuen, 1977)

‘Inspiration is the name for a privileged kind of listening.’ - John Howard

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