Bill Manhire, poet, teacher, editor, publisher, and all round great New Zealander turned 60 on 27 December 2006 and to celebrate the occasion Fergus Barrowman and Damien Wilkins compiled and edited MANHIRE AT 60: A BOOK FOR BILL published by Victoria University Press and Sport in a limited edition of 500 copies with a retail price of $25.00.
It is hard to imagine a more appropriate gift and I imagine that Bill would have been elated at this surprise publication.
Near the end of his seven page tribute Fergus Barrowman says:
This book is intended to convey to Bill the love, gratitude and admiration of all the contributors.Barrowman doesn’t have to apologise for what he and Wilkins have produced. It is a superb collection of original writing, both verse and prose, from many who have benefited from Bill’s guidance because as Ken Duncum says in his essay “ when it comes to the teaching of writing in New Zealand, Bill is basically both the Wright Brothers rolled into one. Or more patriocally, Richard Pearse without the hedge.”
In my mind MANHIRE AT 60 is based on two books I bought at about the time I first met Bill: LARKIN AT 60 (ed.Anthony Thwaite,Faber 1982) and POEMS FOR CHARLES CAUSLEY (ed.Michael Hanke 1982). The latter is a lovely collection of poems, including Bill’s “She Says” (‘Eventually, she says, you’re left alone, / and the place is a gap in conversation.’), and is perhaps the truer model. What MANHIRE AT 60 lacks in comparison with LARKIN AT 60 are the substantial essays evaluating the thing we love Bill for the most: his poetry. It would have been nice to have found someone with the courage; it would have been nicer to have found the courage oneself….We’ll save that for the next one.
Happy birthday Bill.