Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill in 1946 and educated at the Universities of Otago and London. For many years he taught at Victoria University, where he founded the International Institute of Modern Letters, which is home to New Zealand’s leading creative writing program. He is now Emeritus Professor of English and Creative Writing at Victoria, and was recently UNESCO Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
Bill is best known as a poet. He received the Prime Minister’s Award for poetry in 2007. His first publications were MALADY (1970) and The Elaboration (1972) – both with illustrations by Ralph Hotere. His many books since then include a Collected Poems and a Selected Poems. Recent individual collections are the prize-winning Lifted and The Victims of Lightning. Recordings of Bill’s work are hosted on the Poetry Archive.
He has also published short fiction, most of which is now collected in The Stories of Bill Manhire (2015). Much of his non-fiction writing has been brought together in Doubtful Sounds: Essays and Interviews. Anthologies Bill has edited include 100 New Zealand Poems, The Best of Best New Zealand Poems, Some Other Country, Are Angels OK?, The Wide White Page:Writers Imagine Antarctica and The Exercise Book.
In 1997 he was made New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate. In 2005 he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in in the same year was named an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Otago and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Bill is especially well known for his collaborative work: in particular with the artist Ralph Hotere; with the physicist Sir Paul Callaghan; and with the composer Norman Meehan. Bill's work with Norman Meehan has led to the publication of the albums Buddhist Rain and Making Baby Float, and the book + album These Rough Notes.