The latest issue of broadsheet 24, November 2019, features Oamaru-born poet and writer Nick Ascroft, whose Dandy Bogan: Selected Poems was recently published in the UK. broadsheet recognises his significant input into New Zealand poetry since the mid-1990s, as an editor and supporter of local poets, particularly in the Otago and Wellington regions.
Other poets included are: Corin Black (1975-2012), Kay McKenzie Cooke, Michael Duffett (USA) (1943-2019), David Eggleton, David Karena-Holmes, Margaret Jeune, Mark Pirie, Jenny Powell, Blair Reeve, Richard Reeve, Laura Solomon (1974-2019), Eileen Van Trigt and CAJ Williams.
Editor Mark Pirie writes in his Preface:
“Recently a selection of New Zealand poet Nick Ascroft’s poetry was published in London by Boatwhistle Books and endorsed by Hugo Williams.
Ascroft was born in Oamaru and established himself as part of a younger generation of poets in the mid-1990s that included Richard Reeve, Corin Black, and others in Dunedin. Together they produced Glottis, a popular literary magazine that grew quickly, and took off nationally. These editors were also instrumental in encouraging and supporting others through regular readings like the Robbie Burns readings as well as recording poets for the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive.
I first published and wrote to Nick Ascroft in 1996 when I was seeking work for my magazine JAAM (Just Another Art Movement). I had read Ascroft’s poems in Sport and they stood out, with their sureness of touch, irreverent humour and wit and linguistic word-play. I was also working on an anthology of (mostly) young New Zealand writing that would be published as The NeXt Wave in 1998 by Otago University Press.
Ascroft moved up to Wellington and continued Glottis briefly before heading overseas to the UK. He worked in editing jobs overseas, including for Bloomsbury. He returned to Wellington in the past decade where he has worked as an editor for a government department. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife, child and cat.
Besides four collections of poetry, Ascroft has been the co-Burns Fellow at Otago University and has edited the Otago Literary Review, Glottis, Landfall and Takahe, written on sports and music and produced the indoor football guide, How to Win at 5-a-side. A Science Fiction novel, As Long as Rain, appeared in 2018. Ascroft has a fifth collection of poems, Moral Sloth, due from VUP in November this year.
An interesting comment on the back of his selected poems says: “Ascroft’s poems display a familiarity with the furthest reaches of the Scrabble dictionary, and even somewhat beyond. This logophilia evinces a fascination not merely with language but with the workings of the human mind…Ascroft’s abiding concern is what it means to be human.” It’s a useful description of the poems I have included here.
As with previous features some of Nick’s friends appear in broadsheet: the late Corin Black, Kay McKenzie Cooke, David Eggleton, David Karena-Holmes, Jenny Powell, myself, Blair Reeve and Richard Reeve.
A few contributors are also included outside of the feature and broadsheet prints poems in memory of its two regular contributors Laura Solomon and Michael Duffett who passed away this year.
Wellington, November 2019”