James Norcliffe

ANZL Member

James Norcliffe has published eight collections of poetry, a short story collection and several award-winning novels for young people. ‘It is clear,’ reviewer Trevor Agnew (Christchurch Press) wrote of his prose, ‘that a master storyteller is at work from the first sentence’.

James had a long time involvement with takahē magazine and has edited anthologies of poetry, and writing by young people, notably (with Tessa Duder) the long running ReDraft annual anthologies. Most recently he has edited (with Harry Ricketts and Siobhan Harvey) the major anthology Essential New Zealand Poems – Facing the Empty Page (Godwit/Random, 2014), and with Joanna Preston Leaving the Red Zone – Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes (Clerestory Press, 2016).

He has won a number of awards for both his poetry and prose. With Bernadette Hall, he was presented with a Press Literary Liaisons Honour Award for lasting contribution to literature in the South Island, New Zealand.

James has been awarded writing fellowships both in New Zealand and overseas including the Burns Fellowship, the IWP/Iowa Residency, and residencies in Hobart, Massey University and Otago University College of Education. He publishes poetry widely internationally, and regularly reads at festivals and occasions throughout New Zealand and overseas: most recently the Queensland Poetry Festival (2008), in Medellin, Colombia, for the International Poetry Festival (2010), and in Quebec at the Trois Rivieres International Poetry Festival (2011). His work is published in journals world-wide and has been translated into several languages. In 2018 he was the Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow.

A new poetry collection Dark Days in the Oxygen Café  was published by Victoria University Press, August 2016.



James Norcliffe’s website


Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

New Zealand Society of Authors writer page

Victoria University Press author page

Random House Books author page

Virtual Learning Network author page and bibliography

Interview with Rebecca Styles in Flash Frontier [with Elizabeth Smither] (2016)

Radio New Zealand interview with Wallace Chapman [with Joanna Preston] on Leaving the Red Zone (2016)

Article in Jacket on James Norcliffe, David Howard & David Eggleton by Vaughan Rapatahana (2015)

Interview with akiwisbookreviews (blog) on Felix and the Red Rats (2014)

New releases by James Norcliffe

Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand (anthology)

Published by Otago University Press on October 20, 2020

Bibliography: James Norcliffe



Dark Days in the Oxygen Café (Victoria University Press, 2016)

Shadow Play (Proverse Press, 2012)

Villon in Millerton (Auckland University Press, 2007)

Along Blueskin Road (Canterbury University Press, 2005)

Rat Tickling (Sudden Valley Press, 2003)

A Kind of Kingdom (Victoria University Press, 1998)

Letters to Dr Dee and Other Poems (Hazard Press, 1993)

The Sportsman and Other Poems (1986)




The Chinese Interpreter (Short stories: 1993)



Twice Upon A Time ( Puffin, 2017)

The Pirates and the Night Maker (Longacre Press / Random House, 2015)

Felix and the Red Rats (Longacre / Random House, 2013)

The Enchanted Flute (Longacre Press/Random House, 2012)

Packing a Bag for Mars (Clerestory Press, 2012)

The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer (Longacre Press/Random House, 2011)

The Loblolly Boy (Longacre Press, 2009)

The Assassin of Gleam (Hazard Press, 2005)

The Fun House Mirror ([with Alan Bunn and Marissa Johnpillai] Clerestory Press, 2003)

The Carousel Experiment (Hazard Press, 1995)

The Emerald Encyclopedia (Hazard Press, 1994)

Penguin Bay (Hazard Press, 1993)

Under the Rotunda (Hazard Press, 1992)




Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand ([with Michelle Elvy and Frankie McMillan] Canterbury University Press, 2018)

Leaving the Red Zone: poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes ([with Joanna Preston] Clerestory Press, 2016)

Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (with Harry Ricketts and Siobhan Harvey) (Random House / Godwit, 2014)


They Call Me Ink: Redraft 15 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press, 2015)

The Word is Out: Redraft 14 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press, 2014)

Mad Honey: Redraft 13 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press, 2013)

Walking a Tightrope in Bare Feet: Redraft 12 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press, 2012)

The Temptation of Sunlight: Redraft 11 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press, 2011)

The Steepest Street in the World: Re-Draft 10 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press/School For Young Writers, 2010)

Fishing for Birds: Re-Draft 9 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press/ School for Young Writers, 2009)

D.I.Y Graffiti: Re-Draft 8 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2008)

The Polar Bear Ward: Re-Draft 7 ([with Tessa Duder] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2007)

Tennis with Raw Eggs: Re-Draft 6 ([with Alan Bunn] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2006)

Cupid on a Friday Night: Re-Draft 5 ([with Alan Bunn] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2005)

Re-Draft 4 ([with Alan Bunn] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2004)

Re-Draft 3 ([with Alan Bunn] Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2003)

Re-Draft 2 ([with Alan Bunn],Clerestory Press/School for Young Writers, 2002)


'Character to some extent is much a construction of the reader as it is of the writer.' - Lloyd Jones

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