I was born in the remote mountain village of Ohakune and grew up there and in other small North Island towns. I’ve travelled to the east and to the west and, since 1981, have lived in Sydney, Australia. And yet it still seems to me that all cities, and all towns, are somehow contained in that small one where I began.
Where the impulse to write comes from I’m unsure but it came early to me and I’ve tried to pursue it, and honour it, ever since. Most of my books can be subsumed into the capacious genre of non-fiction; but there are some which query genre expectations and others which deny them.
Timelights is a departure for me. I’ve collaborated on several books which place text and image side by side but this is the first time I’ve used my own photographs. However, I don’t consider the photos in Timelights to be works of art.
I’m more interested in the documentary, in the imaginary, and in the ambiguities, than I am in aesthetic effects. The pictures are opportunities to explore, in language, things that might otherwise seem to be beyond words. And then, I hope, the words lead back to the images.
2020 – Bus Stops on the Moon; memoir; Otago University Press.
2020 – Endless Yet Never; biography; McCahon House.
2020 – Timelights; travel; Lasavia Press.
2019 – Isinglass; ficcione; University of Western Australia Press, Perth.
2017 – The Expatriates; group biography; Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.
2015 – The Dreaming Land; memoir; Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.
2015 – Histories of the Future; essays; Walleah Press, Hobart.
2014 – Barefoot Years; memoir; Bridget Williams Books, Wellington.
2014 – Battarbee & Namatjira; biography; Giramondo Publishing, Sydney. (shortlisted for the Australian National Biography Award, 2016)
2014 – Beyond the Ohlala Mountains – Selected Poems of Alan Brunton; edited, with Michele Leggott; Titus Books, Auckland.
2013 – Winged Sandals; autobiography; Rosa Mira Books, Dunedin. (e-book)
2013 – Eternities; essays; Otoliths, Rockhampton.
2012 – The Place of Stones; essays; Holloway Press, Auckland.
2011 – Dark Night : Walking with McCahon; quest memoir; Auckland University Press, Auckland. (shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart prize for non-fiction, NSW Premiers Awards, 2013)
2010 – Hypnogeography; essays; Kilmog Press, Dunedin.
2010 – The Thousand Ruby Galaxy; novella; Kilmog Press, Dunedin.
2010 – Steal Away Boy: Selected Poems of David Mitchell; edited, with Nigel Roberts; Auckland University Press, Auckland.
2009 – Zone of the Marvellous: in search of the Antipodes; non-fiction; Auckland University Press, Auckland.
2009 – The Supply Party: Ludwig Becker on the Burke & Wills Expedition; quest memoir; East Street Publications, Adelaide.
2008 – The Big O Revisited b/w Providence; poetry; Soapbox Press, Auckland.
2008 – The Evolution of Mirrors; essays; Otoliths, Rockhampton.
2007 – Waimarino County (& other excursions); essays; Auckland University Press, Auckland.
2006 – Luca Antara: Passages in search of Australia; ficcione; East Street Publications, Adelaide, 2006; Oldcastle Books, Herts., UK, 2008; Bertrand, Lisbon, 2010 ‘A graceful and mesmerizing blend of history, autobiography, travel and romance’ – J M Coetzee
2004 – Ghost Who Writes; essay; Four Winds Press, Wellington.
2004 – Chronicle of the Unsung; memoir; Auckland University Press, Auckland. (Winner, Biography category, Montana Book Awards, 2005)
2002 – Fenua Imi: The Pacific in History and Imaginary; essay; Bumper Books, Wellington.
1999 – The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont; biography; Auckland University Press, Auckland.
1997 – Chemical Evolution: Drugs and Art Productions 1970-80; essay; Bumper Books, Wellington.
1993 – The Autobiography of my Father; memoir; Auckland University Press, Auckland. (Third Prize, Wattie Book Awards, 1993)
1988 – Houses, Days, Skies; poetry; Foreign Books, Sydney.
1980 – Streets of Music; poetry; Brick Row, Auckland (Jessie Mackay Award for best first book of poetry, 1981)
2016 – Battarbee & Namatjira shortlisted for the Australian National Biography Award
2014 – Post Graduate Fellowship, Western Sydney University
2013 – Dark Night : Walking with McCahon shortlisted for the Douglas Stewart prize for non-fiction, NSW Premiers Awards
2010 – Michael King Fellowship, MK Centre, Devonport, Auckland
2005 – Chronicle of the Unsung wins the biography category at the Montana Book Awards
2004 – Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland
1993 – The Autobiography of my Father wins Third Prize at the Wattie Book Awards
1988 – Streets of Music wins the Jessie Mackay Award for best first book of poetry