Vincent O'Sullivan (New Zealand poet)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Vincent Gerard O’Sullivan, DCNZM (born 28 September 1937, in Auckland, New Zealand) is a New Zealand poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, critic and editor. He was the New Zealand Poet Laureate for the term 2013–2015.[1][2] The son of Timothy O'Sullivan (b. Tralee, Ireland) and Myra O'Sullivan (née McKean) O'Sullivan was the youngest of five children. His first marriage was to Tui Rererangi Walsh and produced two children. Dominic O'Sullivan (1970) and Deirdre O'Sullivan (1973).

He attended St Joseph's Primary, Grey Lynn, and Sacred Heart College. He graduated from the University of Auckland and Oxford University; he lectured at Victoria University of Wellington (1963–66) and the University of Waikato (1968–78).

He served as literary editor of the NZ Listener (1979–80).[3]




  • "Blame Vermeer", Scottish Poetry Library
  • Our Burning Time (1965),
  • Revenants (1969)
  • Waikato-Taniwha-Rau (1971)
  • Bearings (1973)
  • From the Indian Funeral (1976)
  • Butcher & Co. (1977)
  • Brother Jonathan, Brother Kafka (1979)
  • The Rose Ballroom and Other Poems (1982)
  • The Butcher Papers (1982)
  • The Pilate Tapes (1986)
  • Selected Poems (1992)
  • Seeing you asked. Victoria University Press. 1998. ISBN 978-0-86473-352-8.

Short Stories[edit]

  • The Boy, The Bridge, The River (1978)
  • Dandy Edison for Lunch and Other Stories (1981)
  • Survivals (1985)
  • The Snow in Spain: Short Stories (1990)
  • Palms and Minarets: Selected Stories (1992).


  • Miracle (1976)
  • Let the River Stand (1993)
  • All This By Chance (2018)


  • Shuriken, was performed at Downstage, Wellington, in July 1983.
  • Billy, presented at Bats Theatre, Wellington


  • Jenny Bornholdt, Gregory O'Brien, Mark Williams, eds. (1997). An anthology of New Zealand poetry in English. Oxford University Press New Zealand. ISBN 978-0-19-558338-0.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  • Fleur Adcock, ed. (1982). The Oxford book of contemporary New Zealand poetry. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-558092-1.


  • Vincent O'Sullivan, Margaret Scott, eds. (1996). The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield (1984– ). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-818532-1.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  • Mansfield’s ‘The Aloe’ with ‘Prelude’ (1982)
  • Poems of Katherine Mansfield (1988)
  • Selected Letters (1989)
  • An Anthology of Twentieth-Century New Zealand Poetry (1970, revised 1976 and 1987)
  • New Zealand Short Stories: Third Series (1975)
  • New Zealand Writing Since 1945 (1983, with MacDonald P. Jackson)
  • Collected Poems: Ursula Bethell (1985),
  • The Oxford Book of New Zealand Short Stories (1992),


In print and in performance, Vincent O’Sullivan as poet reminds one of nothing so much as an antipodean Marist or Jesuit; with his trenchant mix of philosophical erudition and vernacular ease, he comes across as the defrocked priest of New Zealand literature. His poems display an irreverence that shades into reverence: God is spoken of with fondness and slight regret, as if O’Sullivan is remembering a character who belongs to a previous book (which, he might say, is what God is).[5]

This poem is in many ways typical of O'Sullivan's strengths: it has a lyric eloquence that never shies away from, often embraces, difficult sometimes philosophical subject matter and is a good introduction – as is the volume as a whole – to his work in general.[6]


External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ian Wedde
New Zealand Poet Laureate
Succeeded by
C. K. Stead