new zealand electronic poetry centre

Robert Sullivan 

Friday 23 August  7.30-10pm  once and for all
Saturday 24 August 10.15 – 11.30am  scoop:  ten poets read new poem
Sunday 25 August 12 –1.15pm  poets on poets 

Robert Sullivan (Ngapuhi/Irish) was born in 1967. He has been writing poems since 1986 and has published three books of poetry, Jazz Waiata (AUP, 1990), Piki Ake! (AUP, 1993) and Star Waka (AUP, 1999), as well as a graphic novel, Maui: Legends of the Outcast (Godwit, 1996), which was illustrated by Chris Slane.

Robert has co-edited, with Reina Whaitiri, a contemporary Maori literature issue of the American journal Manoa and is one of the editors currently compiling an anthology of Polynesian poetry provisionally titled Journeys. He also co-edits the online literary journal Trout.

Robert Sullivan’s work is widely anthologised and appears in many New Zealand and overseas literary journals. He has won or been a finalist for several national literary awards. In 1998 he was the Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland and during his term he completed a novel, The Mokopuna Ocean, as well as Star Waka. He was one of the 12 New Zealand poets reading from their published work on New Zealand’s first poetry anthology on CD, Seeing Voices (AUP), which was released in November 1999.

Robert now lives in Auckland with his partner and two children, and is the Maori Liaison Librarian at the University of Auckland Library.

From Captain Cook in the Underworld

"I say James. I say." The crew say. "Where is Venus? I say
                     James." I say "To whom do you assail?"
I say "I am Captain Cook. And it is obvious
                     where Venus is.
It is still there, and we are still here."

(One must retain a cool head). I retire to my cabin
                      to tot. And what a tot. The habit
confuses me for once. I hear singing, unearthly
                      music from a lyre. Forty
feet out to sea! A Greek claiming he’s a god,

singing like a bird, such beautiful words,
                      how swiftly he picks his chords:
Your Venus in flames is no woman,
                      she is no tender blossom
making an eventful death.

Your Venus is an orb who does not cry for your absence.
                       Your Venus is a pinprick in the sky
who doesn’t understand the science of your sighs -
                      do not deny your sadness James.
Then go onwards, take your destiny and your fame...


from Captain Cook in the Underworld, forthcoming from Auckland UP, November 2002.


© Robert Sullivan



Last updated 21 July, 2002