Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill, New Zealand—called by Rudyard Kipling “the last lamppost in the world”—and educated at the University of Otago and University College London. Back then, he was an Old Norse scholar: he can still pronounce “Eyjafjallajökull.”
In 1975 he founded New Zealand’s first creative writing course at Victoria University of Wellington, where he was Professor of English and Creative Writing and Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters. He was appointed New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate, is an Arts Foundation Laureate, and has won the New Zealand Poetry Award five times. Other honors include the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship to Menton, France, and the Prime Minister’s Award. He is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
His many publications include a Collected Poems (published in 2001 by Victoria University Press and Carcanet) and, since that volume, the prize-winning Lifted and The Victims of Lightning. Recent poems have appeared in the London Review of Books, the New Yorker, Poetry London, Sport, and the Times Literary Supplement.
He is known for his collaborative work: in science, with the physicist Paul Callaghan (the Are Angels OK? sci-art project), in the visual arts with the notable Maori painter Ralph Hotere (the Song Cycle and MALADY series), and in music with the jazz musician Norman Meehan (the CD Buddhist Rain).
He is also the author of several short story collections (The Stories of Bill Manhire; South Pacific; Songs of My Life), and the editor of best-selling anthologies (including 100 New Zealand Poems and Some Other Country: New Zealand’s Best Short Stories). He is probably a little too proud of his ground-breaking anthology of Antarctic poetry and fiction, The Wide White Page, but he has in fact visited Antarctica, and once spent 45 semi-heroic minutes at the South Pole.