David Mitchell was an innovative and much loved New Zealand poet. Born in Wellington in 1940, Mitchell was a keen sportsman and was named as one of five promising schoolboy cricketers by New Zealand cricket captain John Richard Reid. His first published poem was in Wellington College's annual magazine, The Wellingtonian – and from there his interest in writing grew.
Through the 1960s and 1970s Mitchell was a well-known performance poet. In 1972, Mitchell's only full-length collection of poems, Pipe Dreams in Ponsonby, was published, receiving a Commended award in the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize.
In 1975, Mitchell received the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. Although he wrote a number of poems during his time in Menton, the fellowship did not result in a further collection; instead, in 1980, Mitchell founded the weekly event Poetry Live in Auckland. It continues to run, and is known for being New Zealand's longest-running open mic event. Mitchell's friend and fellow poet Iain Sharp later said: "[Mitchell] told me once that he was embarrassed about not producing a new book after he returned from being the 1976 Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton. Setting up Poetry Live was his alternative — a way of giving something back to local literature.”