new zealand electronic poetry centre


J A N E T   F R A M E

12 Taonga



Janet Frame was a novelist, short story writer and poet. Born in Dunedin in 1924, she attended Waitaki Girls’ High School, the University of Otago and Dunedin Teachers’ Training College (1943- 4). In 1947, she entered Seacliff Mental Hospital, near Dunedin, where she was (wrongly) diagnosed as schizophrenic. Her first book, The Lagoon and Other Stories, a collection of short stories written during her eight-year confinement, was published in 1951. After her release, she boarded with the writer Frank Sargeson in Takapuna while she wrote her first novel, Owls Do Cry (1957). After its publication, she left New Zealand for Europe, travelling in the Mediterranean and living for seven years in London. Here, she wrote a further three novels and two collections of short stories. After returning to New Zealand in 1963, she continued to write prolifically and was awarded a Burns Fellowship in 1965. Her sole volume of poetry, The Pocket Mirror, appeared in 1967. Her publication rate slowed somewhat in the decade that followed; in the 1980s, however, she published her acclaimed three-volume autobiography and her last novel, The Carpathians (1988). Frame received many awards and honours in recognition for her writing, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. She died of leukemia in late January 2004.



  • The Pocket Mirror: Poems, New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1967

Prose (novels, short stories and autobiography):
  • The Lagoon and Other Stories, Christchurch: Caxton Press, 1951
  • Owls Do Cry, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1957
  • Faces in the Water, Christchurch: Pegasus, 1961
  • The Edge of the Alphabet, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1962
  • Snowman, Snowman: Fables and Fantasies, New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1962
  • Scented Gardens for the Blind, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1963
  • The Adaptable Man, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1965
  • A State of Siege, Christchurch: Pegasus Press, 1967
  • Mona Minim and the Smell of the Sun, New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1969
  • Rainbirds, London: W.H. Allen, 1968
  • Intensive Care, New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1970
  • Daughter Buffalo, Wellington: Reed, 1973
  • Living in the Maniototo, New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1979
  • To the Is-Land, London: Women’s Press, 1983
  • You Are Now Entering the Human Heart, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1983
  • An Angel At My Table, Auckland: Hutchinson, 1984
  • The Envoy From Mirror City, Auckland: Hutchinson, 1985--
  • The Carpathians, Auckland: Century Hutchinson, 1988


Friends far away die …
   lo-fi (rm : 190KB, streaming)
   hi-fi (mp3 : 1.1MB ) 

Friends far away die …

Friends far away die
Friends measured always in blocks of distance
Cement of love between
Porous to tears and ocean spray
How vast the Pacific!
How heavy the unmiracled distance to walk upon,
A slowly sinking dream, a memory undersea.
Untouched now, Sue, by storm
Easy to reach
An angel-moment away,
Hostess of memories in your long green gown, your
small blue
Slippers lying on the white sofa
In the room I once knew — the tall plants behind
you — I remember I watered them and found some
were fake
And I shrugged, thinking it’s part of life

To feed the falseness, the artificial, but no,
you fed only truth
You cut down every growing pretence with one cool
We were at home with you.
We knew, as people say, where we stood.
Your beloved John of the real skin and uncopied
eyes was anxious for you
In true anxiety.

Well, you will visit me in moments.
You will be perplexed yet wise, as usual.
Perhaps we will drink won ton soup
I promise you. No food will hurt you now.

[Janet Frame Literary Trust]




Last updated July 19, 2004