James Norcliffe

James Norcliffe has published six collections of poetry, most recently Villon in Millerton (Auckland University Press, 2007). A new collection Shadow Play is currently a finalist in the Proverse International Writing Prize. He has also written a number of fantasy novels for children including The Loblolly Boy, which won the junior fiction award at the NZ Post Children's Book Awards in 2010, its sequel, The Loblolly and the Sorcerer (2011), and a new novel, The Enchanted Flute (2012). James Norcliffe lives in Church Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, and teaches in the Foundation Studies Division of Lincoln University.

Norcliffe comments: ‘“The Death of Seneca” was prompted by a scene in Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea. The opera, which we'd borrowed on DVD from the Christchurch Public Library, tells the story of the emperor Nero's love affair with Poppea and of his banishment of his wife Octavia in order to replace her with his mistress. Seneca, after becoming involved on the wrong side (this is apparently not historically true), was instructed by Nero to commit suicide and, stoic as he was, the philosopher complied, cutting his wrists in his bath. This put me in mind of our responses down here in Christchurch to our succession of devastating earthquakes and how so many of us have been pushed beyond stoicism. The pomegranates, sharp and exotic, seemed a nice touch, but are my own embroidery.’

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