David Howard

‘We imagine we are observed and are of concern to someone.’ (Czeslaw Milosz, ‘I Saw’)

Born in Christchurch, David Howard co-founded TakahÄ“ magazine (1989) and the Canterbury Poets Collective (1990). He spent his professional life as a pyrotechnics supervisor whose clients included the All Blacks, Janet Jackson and Metallica. In 2003 Howard retired to Purakaunui in order to write: ‘The rural hinter is perfect for this,’ says Howard, ‘by getting clear of the social whirl you realise what matters is the dirt under your fingernails.’

In November 2011, Cold Hub Press published Howard's collected works as The Incomplete Poems. In September 2012, his collaboration with printmaker Peter Ransom, you're so pretty when you're unfaithful to me, appeared from Holloway Press, the same month Otago University announced his appointment as the Robert Burns Fellow 2013. Howard's poetry has been translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Slovene and Spanish.

Howard comments: ‘I write to know more about my self and the world that turns irrespective of self, the world where you are. For me the most precious aspect of poetry is its capacity to capture, perhaps even to create, intimacy—however I know language can also distort the thing it names. I take heart from William Langland’s poem “Piers Plowman”:

Counseleth me kynde quod y . what craft is best to lerne
lerne to loue quod kynde . and lef alle oþere

‘“The Whole of Boredom” evokes the Christchurch of my youth, a city where bands like The Gordons and JPS Experience played in venues that are now piles of rubble, a city captured by the printmaker Peter Ransom—who collaborated with me on the book you're so pretty when you're unfaithful to me (Holloway Press, 2012). Addressed to Eddie Genet, an incandescent and now burnt-out punk, my poem also names Gary Stone, Michael O’Donnell, Lindsay Poskitt and Mark Fox—they are ash. So is punk impresario Malcolm McLaren. Yes, the most charged moment is when everything is going. Stay with me.’

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