Bill Manhire’s Poem For Today – ‘The Lazy Poet’

Today our chosen poet is Bill Manhire, says Poetry Editor Gill Ward.

‘I feel Bill will need no introduction to New Zealand poetry lovers but I do want to acknowledge Bill as a person as well as a poet and author.

He was New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate in 1997 (this year celebrating 25 years of Poet laureates).

Founder of the creative writing course

And many people remember Bill as the founder of  Victoria University first creative writing  course which in 2001 became the International Institute of Modern Letters.

American philanthropist Glenn Schaeffer was so impressed with the university creative writing course he  offered his support to further develop the programme, and the New Zealand headquarters of the IIML was inaugurated in March 2001. 

Partnership links were also established with the Iowa Writers Workshop.

I was a mature student finishing my degree in the 1970s and am fortunate enough to be able to remember Bill as an engaging and knowledgeable literature teacher.

‘Dedication and enthusiasm

The thing I most admire Bill for (not counting his writing) is his dedication and enthusiasm in his mission of motivating and encouraging students to write, understand and obtain a deep appreciation of poetry, as well as literature in all other forms.

Bill has had published 19 poetry books as well as other fiction and nonfiction publications. He has numerous awards and recognitions for his contribution to New Zealand poetry. 

Teasing a cricket-loving poet

The poem I have chosen is one he wrote with some gentle teasing of a Teasing a cricket-loving poet

This has now been published in his new collection.

Bill read this poem at what turned out to be our first poet at Poets to the People in Kapiti in 2020 — and our last guest poet as we closed down later after 15 years owing to Covid and other things. 

And he read several new poems from his latest book Wow (Victoria University of Wellington Press 2020).

This poem is a lot of fun especially as the poet mentioned was at the reading. Much quiet laughing from those present who realised!. There are plenty more poems for further presentation which you’ll get to enjoy too!


The Lazy Poet    

He writes a new haiku. 

Maybe that will do? 

But ah the mystery of things! 

the quiet attentiveness a poet brings . . . 

He wonders about the word ‘thicket’. . . 

then turns on the cricket. 


Light at an upstairs window: 

the poet working late. 

A disappointing over rate. 

He activates the waterfall. 

He activates the paperweight. 

He reads about the loss of insects 

from all of earth & air. 

There might be something there. 

And he himself is always lost, 

and at what cost? 

Must he scratch out  

all that pain again? 

He remembers how once upon a time he wept & roared  

and wept & roared 

like some bewildered sailor washed ashore . . . 

But anyway 

rain stops play.

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