Fleur Adcock: Contribution as New Zealand Poet

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      Fleur Adcock, New Zealand Poet, Editor, Translator, born in 1934. She gained an M.A. in Classics from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Having had an English childhood, Adcock made Britain her permanent home in 1963, and worked as a professional librarian for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in England until 1979. In 1996 she was awarded the OBE for her contribution to New Zealand literature. Although frequently cited for its cool restraint, Adcock's detached voice is distilled from an underlying emotional intensity Her subject matter spans personal relationships and ecological, political, historical and gender concerns. She uses an assured lyrical voice and biting wit.

      More recently, Adcock has focused on women's experience through an array of fictional voices, as in 'Mary Magdalene and the Birds'. Her diction, accessible and declarative, derives from the anti-academicism and irony of Movement aesthetics, and she is at ease with traditional principles - her work fuses casual speech and various stanzaic forms for its rhythmic energies.

      An early interest in fairy tale and allegory, The Eye of the Hurricane (1964) and Tigers (1967) shifted to realistic documentations of urban and domestic scenes, although Adcock still explores poetry as narrative fiction in futuristic works such as 'Gas' (High Tide in the Garden (1971)). Much of Adcock's work uses the perspective of the ambivalent outsider - a position overtly aligned to issues of immigration and national identity, from High Tide in the Garden (1971) to Time Zones (1991), a title that refers both to geographical regions and to the hauntings of memory.

      Her editorial and translation work intensified in the 1980s and 1990s, and included The Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry (1982), The Faber Book of Twentieth Century Women's Poetry (1987), Crete Tartier's Oriental Express (1989), Daniela Crac snura's Letters From Darkness (1991), and (with Jacqueline Simms) The Oxford Book of Creatures (1995). The Eighties also saw the appearance of her Selected Poems (1983) and The Incident Book (1986), which retrospectively traces Adcock's role as outsider to its origins in her English childhood. Looking Back (1997) extends her fascination with personal and ancestral history.

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