Ian Wedde

The Social Space of the Essay 2003–2023

232m x 152mm
Publication date:
13 June 2024

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'From the outset, the social space of the essay is involved with the text’s readers to the degree that conversation is implied – more or less intimate, even argumentative. The essay will often have originated in conversation, or the conversations of groups gathered around an event. Its long form may both contain and measure the extended time of face-to-face conversation or imply that extent; in this it will differ from social media, email and instant messages. These forms are often both dynamic and distanced, with the immediate energy of in-the-moment exchanges. The essays collected here, though, hope for the pleasure of extended conversation, both in their content and in the critical participation of their readers.’

Celebrated poet, novelist and critic Ian Wedde’s third collection of essays follows How to Be Nowhere: Essays and Texts 1971–1994 and Making Ends Meet: Essays & Talks 1992–2004, and ranges widely through Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific ocean, and the libraries and museums of the world. Artists considered in depth and often from multiple perspectives include Bill Culbert, Ralph Hotere, Tony Fomison, Judy Millar, Peter Black, Anne Noble, Yuk King Tan, Elizabeth Thomson and Gordon Walters, while writers including Allen Curnow and Russell Haley are remembered.

Ian Wedde is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, eight novels, two collections of essays, and a number of anthologies and art monographs. His memoir, The Grass Catcher: A Digression About Home, was published in 2014, his Selected Poems in 2017, and his novel The Reed Warbler in 2020. Wedde is the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants. Among the most recent are the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship at Menton in France (2005), a Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award to the USA (2006), an Arts Foundation Laureate Award (2006), a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland (2007), an ONZM (2010), and the Landfall Essay Prize (2010). In 2011–13 Wedde was New Zealand’s poet laureate. He was awarded the Creative New Zealand Writers’ Residency in Berlin 2013–14, and in 2014 the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (poetry). He lives and works in Auckland with his wife, the screenwriter and novelist Donna Malane.

Cover: Michael Parekōwhai, Yes We Are, 2009 – aluminium, automotive paint, neon signs, 6350 x 1720 x 285 mm. As seen in the One Day Sculpture series, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett.

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