Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tim Curnow on his father's centenary

Lovely to hear Tim Curnow's voice on Radio New Zealand Arts on Sunday the other day (20 November 2011). The son of poet Allen Curnow, Tim was his father's literary agent for decades, and he was Janet Frame's friend and literary agent for over 25 years as well.

Tim gave a short interview with Lynn Freeman which you can listen to here, in which he talks about his input into gathering the tribute poems for Allen Curnow's centenary that have been published in Landfall 222Tim says his favourite of the poems is the one by Janet Frame, which I had sent to him several years ago and he has always loved it, but it is only published for the first time in the Landfall centenary tribute.

Janet Frame, who had a great admiration for Curnow's poetry and also of course knew him socially, wrote the poem in 1987 and after Allen Curnow's death she decided to use it as her memorial to him. She recorded the poem in 2002 for the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive which is lodged in Auckland University Library.

It's fascinating to hear Tim talk about his father the great poet, and also to hear his perspective as a New Zealander who has lived in Australia for many years, on his view of "the three most significant cultural figures" in the New Zealand landscape - judging by their substantive body of work and the influence they have had on so many people internationally - and they are: Allen Curnow for his poetry, Janet Frame for her fiction, and Colin McCahon for his art. Tim was lucky enough to have grown up among and known all three of those great creative New Zealanders.

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