new zealand electronic poetry centre


R I C H A R D   V O N   S T U R M E R

12 Taonga



Richard von Sturmer was born in Devonport, on Aucklandís North Shore, and educated at Westlake Boys High School and Auckland University. In 1992 he left New Zealand to undertake ten years of Zen training at the Rochester Zen Center, a Buddhist Community in upstate New York. In 2003 he returned to live and work in Auckland.

Writing History:

  • 1976 Writes script for David Blythe's first film, Circadian Rhythms.
  • 1978-80 Songwriter for several NZ music groups: "The Plague", "Blam Blam Blam", and "Avant Garage".
  • 1979-80 Writes scripts and performs with cabaret group "Inside Information".
  • 1980 Writes first play, The Green Lion, performed at 100m2 in Auckland.
  • 1982-86 Writes performance pieces and with Charlotte Wrightson works as The Humanimals, touring New Zealand and Australia during this period
  • 1986 Writes second play, The Search For Otto, staged in the Auckland School of Architecture's design theatre.
  • 1987-88 Writes first book, We Xerox Your Zebras, a collection of prose-poems.
  • 1989-91 Writes second book of poetic stories, A Network of Dissolving Threads.
  • 1998 Collaborates with photographer Joseph Sorrentino on a third book, Images From The Center, writing seven essays on Zen Practice.
  • 1993-2002 Works as editor of Zen Bow, the Rochester Zen Centerís quarterly publication.
  • 2003 Receives the brief Writerís Award for a two month writer-in-residency on Great Barrier Island.
  • Biblio:


    • We Xerox Your ZebrasModern House, 1988
    • A Network of Dissolving ThreadsAuckland University Press, 1991
    • Images From The CenterRochester Zen Center, 1998


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    As the sun slips below the horizon, a swan closes its eyes

    At a Chinese restaurant, a Chinese waiter eats his evening meal with a knife and fork

    A woman drops her child on the carpet, and instead of crying it laughs

    In the car-wreckerís yard, fragments of window glass sparkle in the sunlight

    A strip of red balloon hangs from the beak of a seagull


    After a fight at school, acorns are found on the toilet floor

    At the edge of a storm, someone is heard sweeping leaves

    In the back garden, rain drips from the eaves of a dollís house

    The sunset glows pink inside the ears of a black dog

    In a takeaway bar, a machine for killing flies is switched on


    A man holds a bicycle wheel and walks into a cathedral

    In the middle of summer, a band-aid has melted on the asphalt

    A wooden swan sits in a bakery, its back hollowed out and filled with loaves of bread

    A wasp picks up a single grain of rice, disappears, then returns to pick up another grain

    The dark clouds are darker through the skylight of a limousine


    When its master blows down a cardboard tube, the dog cocks its head to one side

    A wire coat-hanger is found lying in the snow, and later on, a slice of white bread

    A man sells oranges in front of an empty field that stretches towards the horizon

    On the beach at night, as the fire dies down, the sound of the ocean increases


    A jogger runs past with "Stop Acid Rain" printed on his tee-shirt

    In the crowded menís room, all three toilet doors change from "occupied" to "vacant" at the same time

    At a serious accident, an ambulance arrives before the tow trucks

    The letters on a tomato sign are the same red as the tomatoes

    When the corn field is harvested, the hedgerows rustle with mice


    At the airport, baggage tickets hang from the circular light above the check-in desk

    A steel girder casts its shadow across the side of a concrete building

    A gust of wind sends the cellophane from a cigarette packet high up into the evening sky

    On a late-night bus, an old man smelling of beer manages to complete a crossword puzzle

    A cat slips between two candles without singeing its tail


    Cleaning under his bed, a writer finds his lost pen covered in dust

    In the archeological museum, a series of crystalline pings are heard when the lights are switched on

    Two painters in white overalls each stand on a white ladder and paint the same building white

    In the Japanese garden, a carp with a human face glides by

    On a corrugated iron roof, a seagull opens and closes its beak


    A pile of cigarette butts lies at the end of a long pier

    In a house by the sea, a man in his night-shirt is changing a light-bulb

    In the hair salon, a small girl places two red plastic straws in her hair

    An empty cassette box shines like a pool of water on a dark bedspread

    The shadow of a cat sits on the shadow of a fence


    Outside a tropical hotel, a hotel worker is struck by a large leaf

    A young mother drives around the block until her babies are fast asleep

    A chandelier of icicles hangs from the underside of a rusted fire-escape

    Light shines through a blowfly as it settles on a television screen

    Lotuses are opening beneath high-tension wires


    An ice-cream van breaks down right beside a waterfall

    A dog barks, and snow falls from a tree

    [SPORT 11 (November 1993)]




    Last updated July 15, 2004