Bernadette Hall (b. 1945)
Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance (2007):
The Lay Sister
Aotearoa NZ Poetry Sound Archive (2004):
3. Party tricks
4. Poem in the Matukituki Valley
6. The lay sister
7. Open field
8. Famine [1-2]
9. Early settler
Bio / Bibliography:
Bernadette Hall was born in Alexandra, Central Otago at the very end of the 2nd World War. Her father was born into a Protestant family in Northern Ireland. Her mother’s Catholic ancestors had emigrated from Dublin and Waterford so there are intriguing tensions in her heritage. As a child she shifted to Dunedin where she was educated by the Dominican Sisters. She gained an M.A (Hons) in Latin from Otago University and (until recently) taught Latin and Classical Studies at Christchurch Girls High School.
She came late to writing, her first book appearing in 1989. Since then she has published six books of poetry. Her poems feature in most major, recent anthologies. As well as poetry, Bernadette has written plays, essays, short stories and book reviews. In 2002, she co-edited with James Norcliffe, an anthology of Canterbury poems, Big Sky, published by Shoal Bay Press.
In 1991, she was Writer in Residence at Canterbury University. The next year, her play ‘Glad and the Angels’ won the Aoraki Festival Playwriting Award. In 1996, she held the Burns Fellowship at Otago University and in 1997 represented New Zealand at the International Writers Community in Iowa City, USA. In 2003 she was short-listed for the inaugural Tasmania Pacific poetry award, along with John Tranter and Les Murray, the eventual winner. The collection in question then, Settler Dreaming, was a collaboration between Bernadette and the Dunedin artist, Kathryn Madill, who designed the book and created a series of original drawings which set up a conversation with the text. Settler Dreaming was short listed for the design award in the 2002 Montana NZ prize list.
Bernadette has a strong record as a teacher of Creative Writing and as an editor. For ten years she was poetry editor for Takahe and is now in her 4th year as poetry editor for The Press. She is also an accomplished performer who has read her work at many Arts Festivals, particularly in Dunedin and Christchurch. In 2002 she was a guest reader at the NZ Arts Festival in Wellington. She has recently moved from Christchurch right into a classic Kiwi myth, a bach at a beach in North Canterbury. The hope is that this will lead to a lot more new words!
Books of Poetry:
Heartwood. Caxton Press 1989
Of Elephants etc. untold press 1990
The Persistent Levitator. VUP 1994
Still Talking. VUP 1997
Settler Dreaming. VUP 2001
The Merino Princess: Selected Poems. VUP 2004
The Ponies. VUP 2007
Joanna Margaret Paul. Like Love Poems. VUP 2005