The latest issue of broadsheet, no.16, November 2015, features the Australasian poet Stephen Oliver. The issue is in honour of his significant contribution to transtasman poetry and features a mix of published and unpublished work.
Others included are: Pavel Arsenev (Russia), Roger Hickin, Peter Olds, Alistair Paterson, Mark Pirie, Patricia Prime, Nicholas Reid, Laura Solomon, Nicole Sprague (USA), Michael Steven, Bill Sutton and MaryJane Thomson.
Editor Mark Pirie writes in his Preface:
“Stephen Oliver is a leading transtasman poet. A true antipodean, he was born in 1950 and grew up in Brooklyn-west, Wellington. He left New Zealand in the 1980s and spent 20 years living in Australia after extensive travel (North America to the Mediterranean and Israel). He now resides in Hamilton, New Zealand, after returning around a decade ago.
Throughout his working life he has free-lanced as a production voice, narrator, newsreader, radio producer, columnist, copy and feature writer. In Israel he ‘signed on with the radio ship The Voice of Peace broadcasting in the Mediterranean out of Jaffa’.
Gifted with an oratorical voice and equally gifted with the qualities of true and genuine poetry, Oliver is a poet I’ve admired for two decades. I have published two collections of his 17 titles: Unmanned (1999) and the major retrospective Night of Warehouses (2001). Stephen in return mentored me and assisted my journal publication.
Stephen has an artist’s eye for elegant and handsome presentation, which informs his poetry, with its carefully chiseled and sculpted imagery and line structure. Recently Michael Morrissey considered Stephen was now ‘our greatest living New Zealand poet’ and worthy of Nobel candidature.
A close reading of the poetry of Derek Walcott (1992 Nobel Prize for Literature) supports Morrissey’s view. Walcott’s poetry has common principles in tune with Oliver’s poetry. Walcott, a modern oracle, essentially lyrical and narrative, ranging over forms between free verse and traditional rhyme and metrics, has much that favourably compares with Oliver’s oeuvre.
Both are exponents of the longer poem and also have written lighter verse. Oliver’s work has been translated into German, Spanish, Chinese, Dutch and Russian and has gained international attention.
It’s appropriate then that this issue is in honour of Stephen’s life-long commitment to poetry in his 65th year and his contribution to transtasman poetry, evidenced most tellingly in his recent long poem Intercolonial, one of the finest transtasman poems of the new millennium, in line with Walcott’s Omeros.
Working with Stephen I’ve invited a number of his friends and contacts to be in this special tribute issue. Thanks to those who readily sent in their work and shared in my aim of celebrating Stephen’s contribution—a major, Australasian poet.
A few poets here are contributors outside the feature: Laura Solomon, MaryJane Thomson and Bill Sutton, and represent broadsheet’s continuing diversity and commitment to new New Zealand poetry.
Wellington, November 2015″