Chris Price teaches the poetry and creative non-fiction MA workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. She managed the New Zealand Festival’s Writer’s Week for 12 years, and for much of the 90s she edited the literary journal Landfall. Chris’s first collection of poems, Husk, won the 2002 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. Her next book, the genre-busting ‘biographical dictionary’ Brief Lives, was shortlisted for the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. The Blind Singer appeared in 2009, and in 2011 Chris was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship.
Chris has also contributed to two science/art collaborations. The anthology Are Angels OK? The Parallel Universes of New Zealand Writers and Scientists (Victoria UP, 2006) is the result of a ‘blind date’ between New Zealand writers and physicists. The Transit of Venus Poetry Exchange (2012) took three German and three New Zealand poets to Tolaga Bay on New Zealand's East Coast to view and then write about the Transit. They then translated each other’s work and presented it at the Frankfurt Book Fair as part of New Zealand's Guest of Honour programme. Transit of Venus / Venustransit was published by Victoria University Press in February 2016. Chris’s latest collection, Beside Herself, was published by Auckland University Press in March 2016.
The poems here are from Beside Herself, a book that seems to be fuelled in part by melancholia and pessimism, partly by fury and frustration, and partly by the sweetness and light and mischievous delight that follow the emergence from these things. And then there’s Churl, the ill-mannered, bad-tempered Anglo-Saxon outsider who has his own book within the book, and who similarly arrives at a place of tenuous consolation out of his lonely life. It’s a book that has accreted over about six or seven years, rather than being written with any particular intention or idea behind it, and yet it feels of a piece, to me at least, in the fictional family that it assembles, particularly the knot of damaged, destructive males (represented here by ‘The Kingdom’ and ‘Abandoned Hamlet’), and the cluster of slightly mad (in both senses) women (‘Tango with Mute Button’, ‘My Friend Flicka’). But it’s not all about people who are mad, bad, or dangerous to know: there are also the poems I think of as ditties and jingles that wriggle joyously about in sound play, and poems that wear their costumes with a wicked glint in the eye.