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James K. Baxter

(1926—1972) poet and publicist


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(1926–72),

New Zealand poet, educated episodically at the University of Otago, and in Christchurch and Wellington. He wrote prolifically, surviving a period of alcoholism, and in 1961 became a Roman Catholic, devoting his last years to social work with the drunks, homeless, and drug addicts of Wellington and Auckland. His early volumes (Beyond the Palisade, 1944; Blow, Wind of Fruitfulness, 1948; The Fallen House, 1953) dealt with themes of nature, place, nationality, and guilt, sometimes using the ballad form to satiric effect: in later work he moved on to express himself in a colloquial yet spiritual style, describing his own mission amongst the poor, small daily events, and the Maori language to create an intensely personal voice. Volumes include Pig Island Letters (1966), Jerusalem Sonnets (1970), and Autumn Testament (1972).

Subjects: Literature.


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