Poet and performer Sam Hunt first became aware of the poems of James K Baxter as a schoolboy. Aged 14, he was strapped for reciting Baxter's poem 'Evidence at the Witch Trials' in an English lesson (one of the final in a series of events resulting in his expulsion from college). James K Baxter later became a friend and mentor who greatly influenced the unconventional poetic course Sam Hunt's life would take. Here, Hunt offers a selection of almost 50 poems by Baxter that have made an indelible impression on the grooves of his brain and tongue; poems he has lived with, road-tested and recited around New Zealand for more than 40 years. Hunt has included in the selection a range of the very familiar and the less familiar of Baxter's poems, dating from 1945 to 1972. In his substantial introduction, Hunt offers his memories of Jim Baxter and explains his selection. James K Baxter: Poems offers a fresh, uniquely personal look at the work of Baxter, a rare insight into the creative relationship between two leading writers, and reminds how crucial it is that we listen to our poets. First published June 2009
Sam Hunt is our best-known performance poet and has published more than 14 collections of poetry, most recently Doubtless (2008). Born in Auckland in 1946, he has committed his life to writing and performing poetry, touring extensively throughout New Zealand's pubs, cafes, hotels, festivals, theatres, prisons and schools. He has read in the legislative chamber; performed in Australia, New York and Washington DC; featured with the NZSO and members of the group Split Enz; and made regular TV appearances. An annual literature competition at his alma mater St Peter's College is named after him. In 1975 Hunt was the Burns Fellow at the University of Otago and he was awarded a QSM in 1986 for his contribution to New Zealand poetry. Hunt was a friend of James K Baxter for many years.
Contents include: Introduction Sam Hunt -- High Country Weather -- Never No More -- Lament for Barney Flanagan -- By the Dry Cardrona -- At Akitio -- For Kevin Ireland -- Elephanta -- The Sixties -- Ballad of Calvary Street -- A Rope for Harry Fat -- Evidence at the Witch's Trial -- On the death of her body -- Brown Bone -- At Taieri Mouth -- A Takapuna Businessman Considers his Son's Death in Korea -- To Any Young Man who Hears my Verses... -- Tomcat -- from The Holy Life and Death of Concrete Grady: 1. The Ballad of Grady's Dream -- 4. Grady Under Shock Treatment -- 7. Grady's Epitaph -- On Reading Yevtushenko -- Waipataki beach -- East Coast Journey -- Pig Island Letters (2) -- Ballad of One Tree Hill -- The Beach House -- Thoughts of a Remuera Housewife -- The Gunner's Lament -- Henley Pub -- Divorcee -- from Words to Lay a Strong Ghost: 1. The Party -- 3. The Budgie -- 6. The Change-Over -- 9. The Rival -- 13. The Flower -- To my Father in Spring -- The Communist Speaks -- Fitz Drives Home the Spigot -- Failure -- Letter to Sam Hunt -- Kumara Poem -- Jerusalem Blues 2 -- The Return -- Ferry from Lyttelton -- He Waiata mo te Kare -- Index of First Lines -- Index of Poems.