The Lifeguard : Poems 2008-2013
'You have to start somewhere / in these morose times' begins the title sequence of this collection, in which the dual, duelling lifeguards of east and west, sunrise and sunset, glib Narcissus and one-eyed Polyphemus, watch over a collection that explores the contradictions between life's pool-side surfaces and frightening undertows. Ian Wedde's poet laureate collection, dedicated to his grandchildren Bella and Sebo, opens with a major new series 'The Lifeguard', and finishes with a second long sequence, 'Shadow Stands Up', in which a world of Platonic memory and tidal recurrence is observed from a window-seat in Auckland's conspicuously green-branded Link bus. In poems that are a complex mix of rhapsody, fear, and humour, The Lifeguard is on the lookout for 'arms upraised / where the surf breaks against its own backwash' - Bella's and Sebo's future, full of hope and danger. Bringing together work from the past five years by one of our most outstanding contemporary poets, The Lifeguard shows Wedde at his thoughtful surprising best, building 'these lattices and / filigrees of words through which / the light slips, where the shadow / stands up, and we remember'.
Ian Wedde is a creative writer and critic of high regard who has published many books with AUP and garnered many prizes in his long career. He was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1972, the Victoria University Writing Fellow in 1984, the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton in 2005, and the University of Auckland Michael King Writer in Residence in 2009. In 2010 he was awarded an ONZM in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Wedde moved several years ago to Auckland, where he now teaches in the English and art history departments at the University of Auckland. In 2011 he was appointed to a two-year term as NZ's poet laureate.