James K.Baxter was a great twentieth-century poet. He once declared, ‘In contradiction . . . I was born.’ Sometimes at odds with God, often at odds with conventional society, he was at the same time a profoundly religious man and a fearless social critic who insisted that love and compassion were the only cure for society’s ills.
John Weir was born in Nelson in 1935. After a period of training at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows, he was ordained a Catholic priest. At the University of Canterbury he was awarded the annual Macmillan Brown Prize for original composition on three occasions. (The prize was established in memory of Professor John Macmillan Brown, James K. Baxter’s maternal grandfather.) After graduating MA with first-class honours in English and completing a PhD in English he became a lecturer in English language and literature. His area of specialization was New Zealand Literature. He has published poetry, bibliographies and critical monographs and edited a number of collections of James K. Baxter’s poetry, including his Collected Poems. An intimate friend and confidant of Baxter’s, he has spent many years preparing his Complete Prose for publication.