new zealand electronic poetry centre


L . E .   S C O T T

12 Taonga



L. E. Scott is a Wellington-based jazz poet, performer, prose writer and reviewer. He was born in Cordele, Georgia, in 1947. When a teenager, he moved with his family to Trenton, New Jersey, where he attended high school. After graduating, he was drafted into the United States Army and spent a year in Vietnam as an infantryman (1967- 8). After discharge, he attended Trenton State College, then left the United States to travel in Europe, West Africa and Australia. He came to New Zealand in 1976.

Scott started writing at twelve, and has so far published thirteen collections of poetry and short fiction. He has also edited three verse anthologies. His work has been published widely in journals, magazines and newspapers in New Zealand, Australia, India and the United States, and he has performed at poetry festivals worldwide. He is currently New Zealand editor of the Australian-based journal Kalimat.



  • The Coming of Lewis E. Scott, U.S.A.: Pride Publications, 1972

  • Together¾ Sheila and Lewis, Trenton, N.J.: Pride Publications, 1973
  • Time Came Hunting Time¾ Vietnam, Cammeray, N.S.W: Saturday Centre Books, 1978
  • This Bitter Earth, Eastbourne: Hawk Press, 1978
  • 3 Shades: Apirana Taylor, Lindsay Rabbit, L. E. Scott, Wellington: Voice Press, 1981
  • Nothing But a Man, Days Bay: Voice Press, 1981
  • Songs for My Father, Wellington: Blackberry Press, 1983
  • Nightfall: Empty Spaces Before the Morning, Lower Hutt: Anchor Communications, 1985
  • Hour of the Wolves, Melbourne: Nosukomo, 1987
  • A Woman Called Maasumaa, Auckland: Bent Publishing, 1995
  • Earth Colours: 1970- 2000, Wellington: HeadworX, 2000

Poetry and Prose:

  • In Celebration of My Spiritual Father: For James Baldwin (1924- 1987), Auckland: Dada Afrika, 1990
  • Black Family Letters from Boston, Wellington: BlueBlack Press, 1994


  • Each Otherís Dreams: Contemporary Black American Writing, Hamilton, Outrigger, 1982
  • Kingís Cross Pub Poets, Lower Hutt: Hutt Valley Community Arts Council, 1985
  • Wiimpatjai Bulku Pipinja¾ Black Fellaís Message¾ Aborigine Writers, Sydney: Gavemer Publishing, 1986


A Poem for God
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A Poem for God

I've lain with the preacher-man's wife
I've lost my innocence
She sings in the United Methodist Church
My grandmother once said from the Good Book:
The sins of the father will visit the son
There ain't no God if this is true

A letter from a long-lost friend came
Telling me and asking me did I remember
Patricia Strongman? - She's dead
Her mouth is full of dirt
Her face is dissipating
My childhood was yesterday
My grandmother still reads from the Good Book
And in the graveyard
So many of my friends no longer speak to me
As cold, as cold, as a winter's windowpane

Standing by the door singing a spiritual
Is a one-eyed blind man
Talking about all God's children
But he doesn't say what
Perhaps he could say:
In my father's house
there are many mansions
if it were not so
I would have told you

I am going away
to prepare a place for you
that where I am
there ye may be also
In my father's house

Standing by the door singing a spiritual
Is a one-eyed blind man
Talking about all God's children
But he doesn't say what

Day before, when I was nothing but a snotty-nosed child
Your Mama used to whop me for doing wrong
Gave me a note to take home and
My Mama whopped me again
The preacher-man has died in my life
And I'm still being whopped
I've been a Baptist all my life
Did Mary feel good when she conceived?
In other words, an orgasm
Did Jesus Christ ever shit when he walked
The earth?
In the winter time if you don't mind the cold
You can walk on water
A miracle is nothing more than a season in your life

In front of the church, near the pulpit
The fat women sit
Swaying and sweating
Bright red nail polish
Who wants to be born again

[Earth Colours: 1970- 2000 (Wellington: HeadworX, 2000)]




Last updated July 15, 2004