Michael Harlow is one of New Zealand’s leading poets. He has published 11 books of poetry, including Sweeping the Courtyard, Selected Poems (2014), Heart, Absolutely I Can (2014), Cassandra’s Daughter (2005, 2006), The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry), and Take a Risk, Trust Your Language, Make a Poem (awarded the PEN/NZ Best First Book of Prose, 1986). A recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (1986) and the University of Otago Robert Burns Fellowship (2009), he has twice been a poetry finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards.
Fiona Kidman describes Harlow as ‘a distinguished and serious writer, dealing with big issues: life, death, sorrow, the inner consciousness, yet there is a bubble of gaiety, a vitality, never far from the surface’. Among his many achievements, in 2014 Harlow received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry, his poetry collection, Nothing For It But To Sing ( 2016) won the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Prize (2015) and in 2018 he was presented the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in poetry.
Harlow has been an Associate and Poetry Editor at Landfall for ten years; Editor, the Caxton Press Poetry series, publishing the early work of some of New Zealand’s leading poets, including Michele Leggott, Gregory O’Brien, Murray Edmond, Bernadette Hall; and has contributed as a Mentor to the work of such poets as Cilla McQueen, Emma Neale, Bernadette Hall, Frankie McMillan, Pat White, Hugh Lauder and others. He has represented at Literary Festivals in Colombia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, Romania, and Italy, and his work has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, and Romanian.
Harlow has also worked extensively with the New Zealand composer Kit Powell creating and presenting Performance Works (some 13 works) in New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Russia. Most recently Microzoic Piano Suite (2013), commissioned by the Ensemble Neue Musik Zürich presented at the City Gallery, Kunsthaus, Zürich; Les Episodes and Conversation with Questions, was commissioned by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for their 40th anniversary.
Michael Harlow lives and works as a writer, editor, and Jungian therapist in Central Otago, Alexandra, New Zealand.