Janet Newman

Doctor of Philosophy, (Creative Writing)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Imagining Ecologies: Traditions of Ecopoetry in Aotearoa New Zealand

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From a critical perspective, New Zealand’s long tradition of ecopoetry in English was essentially invisible because scholars tended to fragment it according to themes and time periods. Ms Newman investigated this tradition from the nineteenth century including three case studies of contemporary work and a collection of original ecopoems. She found that New Zealand ecopoetry portrays particular tensions about comprehensions of nature and the human relationship with it. These tensions reveal the importance of examining ecopoetry from specific locations and time frames in order to understand the different ways culture and ecology are imagined. They challenge homogenising, Eurocentric conceptions that prevail in foundational work carried out in the field of ecopoetry since the 1990s.

Professor Bryan Walpert
Associate Professor Ingrid Horrocks


The poem 'Drenching' from the creative component of the thesis will be published in the forthcoming Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2020.

Findings from the critical component of the thesis and the poem "Climbers" from the creative component will comprise my paper entitled "Imagining Ecologies: Looking at Contemporary New Zealand Ecopoetry Through the Lens of Postcolonial Ecocriticism," to be presentedt at the Australasian Association of Writing Program's 2019 annual conference in Sydney in November 2019.

Five poems from the creative component of the thesis were included in 'Tender,' winner of the 2017 IWW Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems.