New Zealand writer, JAMES NORCLIFFE, has had many years experience as a writer and editor. He has published a collection of short stories The Chinese Interpreter, six collections of poetry, most recently Rat Tickling, Along Blueskin Road, and Villon in Millerton; and several novels for young people. He has had a long-time involvement with Takahe magazine and has edited anthologies of poetry and of writing by young people. He is poetry editor for the Christchurch Press and teaches in Lincoln University's Foundation Studies Department. He has won a number of awards for both his poetry and his writing for young people. With Bernadette Hall he was presented with a Press Literary Liaisons Honour Award for lasting contribution to literature in the South Island,New Zealand. James has run many creative writing workshops and been awarded writing fellowships both in New Zealand and overseas. He publishes poetry widely internationally and regularly reads at festivals and occasions throughout New Zealand and overseas. He has lived and worked for extended periods in Asia (China and Brunei Darussalem) but currently lives at Church Bay near Christchurch, spending what little spare time he has with his family, listening to music and creating a garden.
The poems in SHADOW PLAY were written during the five year period since James Norcliffe's last collection, Villon in Millerton (Auckland University Press, 2007). Norcliffe professes himself not to be a confessional poet; nevertheless he freely acknowledges that places and people served as prompts for the poems. New Zealand based, Norcliffe is well-travelled and his poems have international resonance. Placing Shadow Play with one other poetry collection as a finalist for the annual International Proverse Prize for unpublished writing in 2011, the judging panel (reviewing entries with no knowledge of the writers) found an expert hand behind a wide variety of well-wrought poems on a range of topics, pleasingly interwoven with literary allusions.
James Norcliffe is part bar wag, part trapeze artist, and every bit the literary raconteur. He wields his imagination like a spot welder, spraying out glowing trails of hot sparks. And yet so much in these pages happens in slo-mo, in fractured memory. There are poems for cartographers and window washers, personae poems for Hamlet, Alice in Wonderland, and sadistic Empress Dowager Cixi, love poems for books, ATMs, and vindaloo. But his great poem for the Icthyosaurus - "not one centimeter / of human history in the/kilometres of its eyes" - exposes the slinky sinister undertow at work. Suicide, heart attacks, suicide bombers, and auto da fe suck us in. Norcliffe pokes and prods the reader like a forensic tech and in the end his poems leave spatter patterns. - Richard Peabody, poet, novelist and editor of Gargoyle Magazine,USA
His fascination with history and pre-history, with theatre and botany and geology and art and contemporary mores, makes for a heady brew in his writing." - Bernadette Hall, "Preface", Shadow Play
"At times he flourishes the sleight of hand, or is it the sleight of language, of a magician." - Bernadette Hall, "Preface", Shadow Play
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