Complete Poems


  • Geoffrey Miles




Fifty years after James K. Baxter’s death, we finally have an edition of his Complete Poems. This four-volume collection completes the heroic project of editor John Weir and Te Herenga Waka University Press, begun in Complete Prose (2015) and Letters of a Poet (2018), to collect together and publish in scholarly form all of Baxter’s scattered writings. The publisher’s blurb reaches for an appropriately Baxterian image in calling this a ‘Herculean task’. Indeed, the scale of the collection invites superheroic imagery: 2,977 poems in 3,155 pages – to say nothing of the appendices (and I will say something of the appendices later). Weir’s earlier, long-standard Collected Poems (Oxford University Press, 1980) ran to only 656 pages. Gathering in the unpublished contents of the manuscript notebooks in the Hocken Library, together with poems published in obscure journals or recovered from friends and acquaintances, his new edition more or less triples the quantity of Baxter’s poetry now accessible to scholars and the general reader.


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