"The Victims of Ligthening" — 06.04.10

Bill Manhire (Laureate), now tries his hand as jazz lyricist.. He has collaborated with Wellington composer Norman Meehan on the album Buddhist Rain, using poems from his latest collection, The Victims of Lightning.

Bill Manhire (Laureate), poet and Victoria University professor now tries his hand as jazz lyricist.

Bill has collaborated with Wellington composer Norman Meehan on the album Buddhist Rain, using poems from his latest collection, The Victims of Lightning. 

Bill Meehan, who teaches at the NZ School of Music in Wellington, has used poetry before in his compositions, having set 20th-century US poet EE Cummings' work to music in Sun Moon Stars Rain. He had already set some of the work in Bill  Manhire's Collected Poems -  A dozen poems were written for the project, four are on the album, due out in August - "Pacific Raft", "Across the Water", "Garden Gate" and the title track. 

The Victims of Lightning takes its title from poet Randall Jarrell's line that good poets get struck by lightning five or six times in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms; a dozen or more and the poet is great.  Manhire says every poet is capable of writing work beyond themselves. "I suppose what I'm saying to [students] is that you can construct the atmospheric conditions for lightning to strike."