- Category: PA 2002
Michele Leggott is award winning poet, born in New Zealand where she lives with her family on Auckland's North Shore. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of English, University of Auckland and the Founding Director of the New Zealand electronic poetry centre, the international gateway to New Zealand poetry (www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz). Leggott is the principal investigator in a five-person Marden Award funded team for research on New Zealand writer Robin Hyde. As such, she edited the extraordinary prose poem The Book of Nadath, which was written by Robin Hyde in 1937 and finally published by AUP in May 1999. For this she was awarded a Blind Achiever's Award in November 1999. Leggott co-edited, with poets Alan Brunton and Murray Edmond, the anthology, Big Smoke, a revealing look at New Zealand poetry in the sixties and seventies. She has also written a scholarly study of the American poet, Louis Zukofsky, and was the co-author of the critical work Opening the Book: New Essays on New Zealand Writing (AUP, 1995).
Leggott appears on AUP's inaugural New Zealand Poetry CD,Seeing Voices, and in a poetry video, Heaven's Cloudy Smile. Leggott's first collection of poetry, Like This?, won the PEN First Book of Poetry award; her third book, DIA, and her last collection, As Far As I Can See, both won the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. In As Far As I Can See, Leggott writes of her anguish at losing her eyesight. She suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and has been going slowly blind since 1985. She writes, "Much of what I have written here is an effort to remember seeing, something to put against the dark while I searched for other ways of understanding where it has put me. This understanding is elusive, it vanishes most when I need it. It is the sound of words on darkness, and of words on light."