dissabte, 23 d’octubre de 2010


He wrote a long-running weekly satirical poetry column under the pen-name of Whim Wham for the The Press from 1937, and then the New Zealand Herald from 1951, finishing in 1988 - a far-reaching period in which he turned his keen wit to many world issues. From Franco, Hitler, Vietnam, Apartheid, and the White Australia policy, to the internal politics of Walter Nash and the eras of Robert Muldoon and David Lange, all interspersed with humorous commentary on New Zealand's obsession with rugby and other light-hearted subjects.

His publication, Book of New Zealand Verse (1945), is a landmark in New Zealand literature.

Curnow is however, more celebrated as poet than as a satirist. His poetic works are heavily influenced by his training for the Anglican ministry, and subsequent rejection of that calling, with Christian imagery, myth and symbolism being included frequently, particularly in his early works (such as 'Valley of Decision'). He draws consistently on his experiences in childhood to shape a number of his poems, reflecting perhaps a childlike engagement with the environment in which he grew up, these poems bringing the hopeful, curious, questioning voice that a childlike view entails. Curnow's work of course is not all so innocently reflective. The satirist in Curnow is certainly not pushed aside in his poetic works, but is explored instead with a greater degree of emotional connectivity and self reflection. His works concerning the New Zealand Landscape and the sense of isolation experienced by one who lives in an island colony are perhaps his most moving and most deeply pertinent works regarding the New Zealand condition. His landscape/isolation centered poetry reflects varying degrees of engaged fear, guilt, accusation, rage and possessiveness, creating an important but, both previously and still, much neglected dialog with the New Zealand landscape. He positions himself as an outside critic (he was far less religiously and politically involved than contemporaries like James K. Baxter, and far less outrageous in his lifestyle also) and though perhaps less impassioned in his writing than his contemporaries, his poetic works are both prophetic and intelligent.

Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998). [About the Companion entries] CURNOW, Allen (1911– 2001) was born in Timaru, where his father—a fourth-generation New Zealander—was an Anglican clergyman; his mother was English-born. During his childhood Curnow lived in a succession of Anglican vicarages in Canterbury, at Belfast, Malvern, Lyttelton and New Brighton. He was educated at Christchurch BHS and the universities of Canterbury and Auckland.

He worked for the Christchurch Sun in 1929–30, before moving to Auckland to prepare for the Anglican ministry at St John’s Theological College, 1931–33. His earliest poems appeared in the university periodicals Kiwi in 1931 and Phoenix (he was a member of the editorial committee) in 1932–33. Several Phoenix contributors, including the founding editor James Bertram, R.A.K. Mason, A.R.D. Fairburn and J.C. Beaglehole became friends (he later edited Mason’s Collected Poems, 1962).