Rae Varcoe



Poetry has been part of Rae Varcoe’s everyday life since Mrs Entwisle led her to Wilfred Owen, R.A.K. Mason and Gerard Manley Hopkins in the third form. She has been writing poetry much more recently, beginning with an MA course at Victoria University in 1997. Like other doctor poets, she is particularly interested in exploring the deep and complex relationships between medicine and poetry. She was born in 1944 and grew up in Dunedin, and works as a blood diseases physician at Auckland City Hospital.

Praise for Tributary
‘At the top of her form, as she is in “The Cancer Cells Sum Up”, “Your Diagnosis is Leukaemia”, “Hand-Made House” and “Borderline”, Varcoe is top-notch. … In particular, “Plot 608, The Old Balclutha Cemetery” (where her parents are buried) is a miniature masterpiece, with the tension between the scientist/physician and the grieving daughter held in perfect balance and every word really pulling its weight: 

exons to earth
introns to dust
who will read you now
my brave wee mother
and who will decode
your silence, Dad.

I rank it among the finest poems written in this country in the past 10 years.’
—Iain Sharp, Lumière Reader


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