Gregory O’Brien

After Bathing at Baxter’s

ISBN: 9780864734181

Gregory O'Brien is both poet and painter, and latterly a valued, one might almost say a necessary, voice in the public presentation of work by major New Zealand artists (notably Colin McCahon and Ralph Hotere), and in the articulation, not of a theory, but of a language and a set of reference points, for talking about them...

After Bathing at Baxter's is a personal exploration of—and homage to—some of the important New Zealand poets and painters of the 20th Century, beginning—as the title suggests—with James K. Baxter. The author writes: ‘After bathing, as a young man, in the Wanganui River of Baxter’s poetry, much of my subsequent reading, writing, painting and thinking were shaped by his dreams of self, society and artistic creation.’

For O’Brien, the essay and notebook are very much ‘lived-in’ forms—so this collection teems with anecdote and personal observation. Alongside Baxter, the book includes major pieces on writers Kendrick Smithyman, Janet Frame and Ruth Dallas. Following a sequence of autobiographical stories, O’Brien shifts his gaze to the visual arts, taking the reader on a tour of some notable sites, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Rosalie Gascoigne and Denis O’Connor.

Praise for After Bathing at Baxter's

It's a passionately enthusiastic book, full of good humour, unexpected insights and joyous discoveries. Nobody interested in the arts can afford to miss it.

It will make you feel smarter: I can feel it working already.


The writing achieves a remarkable clarity and precision, making this book an almost effortless read.
Esther Quin SALIENT

...O'Brien's virtue as a guide is the infectious enthusiasm he has for those he writes of.
Nelson Wattie NZ BOOKS

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