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Kate Camp

Kate Camp’s Biography

Last Updated:
16/05/2019, 2:32 pm
Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship 2016
Kate Camp is a Wellington-born poet and essayist, author of six collections of poetry from Victoria University Press: Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (1998), Realia (2001), Beauty Sleep (2005), The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls (2010), Snow White’s Coffin (2013), and The internet of things (2017).

Her work is recognised for its wide-ranging and eclectic subject matter, its technical control, and its musicality. An often disconcerting blend of seriousness and humour has been hallmark of her poetry since it was first published in the mid-1990s.

"A wild, imaginative energy flares throughout the collection. Kate Camp is a fearless writer." Judges’ comments, New Zealand Book Awards.

Camp’s first collection, Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 1999 The Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls won the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry. Snow White’s Coffin was shortlisted for the award in 2013, and The internet of things longlisted in 2018.

Camp’s poems have appeared in magazines and journals in New Zealand and internationally including Landfall, Sport, NZ Listener, Poetry (USA), Heat (Australia), Brick (Canada), Akzente (Germany), Qualm (England).

Poems appear in anthologies including Essential New Zealand Poems; 121 New Zealand Poems; and New Zealand Love Poems, ed Lauris Edmond; in the online anthology Best NZ Poems, and in the anthology The Best of Best New Zealand Poems.

Camp was appointed Writer in Residence at Waikato University in 2002. In 2011 she received the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency, and in 2017 received the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship.

Camp is also an essayist, and spent the seven months of the Menton Fellowship working on personal essays. Her essays and memoir writing have appeared in New Zealand and Australian journals including The Griffith Review, Sport, North and South and Women of Letters. The essay “I wet my pants” was a finalist in the Landfall essay competition in 2018.

Camp is also known as the voice of “Kate’s Klassics” – discussions of classic literature with Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill. She has broadcast the regular segment since 2001.


The internet of things, Victoria University Press, 2017
Snow White’s Coffin, Victoria University Press, 2013
The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls, Victoria University Press, 2010
Beauty Sleep, Victoria University Press, 2005
Realia, Victoria University Press, 2001
Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars, Victoria University Press, 1998


Landfall, 2018, essay “I wet my pants”
Women of Letters 7
, (Australia) Penguin Books, 2016, essay “Rock bottom”
Griffith Review 43, (Australia) Text Publishing, 2014, essay “Whale Road”
Kate’s Klassics, Penguin, 2006, collection of essays on classic literature
On Kissing, Four Winds Press, 2002, non-fiction


The internet of things

Multi-award winning poet Kate Camp is a great poet, as her word-rich, haunting latest collection attests… the tone is conversely conversational and self-referential or omniscient and metaphoric. The resulting complex interplay of rhythm, revelation and ethics is superb. Siobhan Harvey, New Zealand Herald.

Snow White’s Coffin

A wild, imaginative energy flares throughout the collection. Kate Camp is a fearless writer. We loved seeing her at full strength, pushing the boundaries of her art. Judges’ comments, 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

These poems are the best Camp has produced… clear, intelligent, deep and quirky. Hamesh Wyett, Otago Daily Times.

The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls

...mesmerizing... memorable... an exceptionally fine poet who deserves an international readership... there’s humour and invention, but also a committed attention to the odd ways in which regular people speak that at times approaches virtuosity... Camp’s voice is undeniably her own: wry, sympathetic, affable, deadpan... aware that her poems must exist within a continuum of thoughtful, civilized art and philosophy while remaining loyal to the eccentricity and value of lived experience... an exceptional collection. Kevin Connolly, Brick (Canada).

The hallmarks of Camp’s earlier writing are still present: irreverent humour, the tough springy style, the swift changes in viewpoints. But one senses a sea-change is taking place. With a more sombre atmosphere, a steadier pace and an increasingly confident linguistic control, this is poetry of true maturity. Sarah Quigley, NZ Listener.

Beauty Sleep

Revelling in the strange juxtapositions of her poetic quanta, with an acute sense of the resonances they create, Kate Camp engages with ideas in the joyful spirit of the thought-experiment... Defying the gravity of conventional exposition, they do not lack humility, humanity or food for thought, but offer a keen wit, a sense of fun and the words essential to any honest research: “I don’t know.” Cilla McQueen, Dominion Post.


Kate Camp is literate yet hip, culturally attuned and funky... This poet skips easily through various fields of reference, medical, economic, anthropological, literary, pop-culture, collecting and bringing home specimens as good poets do. (Cath Kenneally, Landfall)

Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars

Unfamiliar Legends is a first book from a bustling, healthy talent... The poems are unleashed upon us. They may not always be in politically good taste, but they do contain a surprising radicalism and power... One can't help admiring the verve, the adrenalin, the argumentativeness... This is a brave book, which points directly to the next one. Bill Direen, NZ Listener.

Biography photo credit: Grant Maiden