Tuesday, May 03, 2016

American professor features in Wellington journal

The latest issue of broadsheet, no.17, May 2016, features the American-based British poet Michael Duffett, currently Associate Professor of English at San Joaquin Delta College in California. The issue is the first journal to feature his poetry in New Zealand.

Others included are: Richard Berengarten (UK), William Direen, Jeanne Bernhardt, Anthony Rudolf (UK), Noeline Gannaway, Richard Reeve, Gary Mutton, Jeremy Roberts, Basim Furat (Sudan), Michael O’Leary, Vaughan Rapatahana, Cameron La Follette (USA), and David P Reiter (Australia).
Editor Mark Pirie writes in the Preface:
“Michael Duffett is British, now resident in Stockton, California, where he currently teaches as Associate Professor of English at San Joaquin Delta College. He has lived and travelled abroad in Saudi Arabia, Japan, the Aegean island of Paros, and Hawaii before entering North American colleges to teach and lecture. He has a New Zealand connection, and in 1979 was invited by Frank McKay to give a series of lectures on Graham Greene – his speciality at the time being prose. He met a number of leading New Zealand poets and writers during his visit. Later, he developed his poetry side and had published the well-regarded collection Forever Avenue (1987) in California. His play, Mountain, was produced on NPR. He has also done some acting work, including the final episodes of Magnum PI as Victor Goetz, ‘the crazy German auto mechanic ([Duffett’s] specialty is foreign accents!).’

In 2008, when I produced the first issue of broadsheet, Duffett came into contact with me through a mutual friend Richard Berengarten. Both poets were educated at Cambridge University, where they edited/founded Carcanet, and are long-term friends. Duffett has contributed to several issues of broadsheet, and I thought it would be nice to feature his work.

Duffett’s recent poetry, mostly composed in sonnet form, concerns domestic and family matters, political and social observation, and wide reading in philosophy, art, literature, and history. His eclectic concerns make his work eminently readable to a wide audience without sacrificing skill, craft and technique. Duffett, to use a well-worn phrase, is ‘a poet’s poet’.
His collection Forever Avenue featured a wide variety of techniques and forms: iambic pentameter from Marlowe and Milton, rhyming couplets from Chaucer and Spenserian stanzas. One critic, Andrew Rawlinson, called it “A twentieth-century ‘Lyrical Ballads’ about technological Californian society.’ An earlier collection Evolution: A Japanese Journal (1974) comprised mainly shorter imagist poems and forms (haiku/senryu) à la Pound, Williams and Asian poets.
Readers in New Zealand now have the chance to read a larger portion of his recent poetry and to see the impressive knowledge and intellectual acumen present in his work.

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