Amy Leigh Wicks

While my poems explore identity and place, my critical thesis will focus on J.K. Baxter and how to write with authenticity as a poet.

Commenced 2015

Amy Leigh is a poet from New York City.  She holds her MFA in poetry from The New School (2014) and her B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from the The King's College (2009).  She is the author of Orange Juice and Rooftops (Eloquent Press, 2009) and a few chapbooks, and her poems have appeared on The Best American Poetry blog. She served as a poetry editor for NYSAI Literary Magazine and writing instructor before moving to Wellington with her husband to undertake her PhD at IIML.

Amy Leigh writes: 'In James K. Baxter (Oxford University Press, 1977), Vincent O'Sullivan wrote that Baxter's verse 'is the most complete delineation yet of a New Zealand mind. The poetic record of its shaping is as original an act as anything we have.' For the critical component of this dissertation I will focus on the life and work of James Keir Baxter as a national figure, or as he has been called, 'the people's prophet' of New Zealand. Placing Baxter's life in the context of New Zealand history, I will explore personal narrative, landscape, and expressions of national identity for Māori and Pakeha people in order to better understand what set him apart and continues to make him a household name and an international icon.

'The creative component will be a collection of poetry focused on landscape, personal narrative and national identity as an expatriate in New Zealand.  Poetic forms will be employed to contrast the mystery and variables of landscape and culture. As the subject material becomes more familiar, the forms will vary to sustain the contrast. I might begin with a sestina if the first walk home from the library is full of wrong turns, strange birds, white clouds, and homesickness.  Six months later when that walk has morphed into a familiar route, a free-form poem would allow intimate impulsive reflection on a few tui taking flight just as someone wearing my mother's perfume passes by me on Salamanca Road.

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