The poetry of Ian Wedde 1967-1978
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is a study of the first decade of Ian Wedde's poetry, 1967-1978. It focuses on the three main collections of his verse published in these years, Made Over (1974), Earthly: Sonnets For Carlos (1975) and Spells For Coming Out (1977), after which discussion moves to the as-yet uncollected poems dating from about 1974. My concern with Made Over was to establish the mechanics of Wedde's poetic voice by scrutinising what I consider to be the seminal poems of that collection. Their thematic connectedness is the most important feature to emerge from the investigation; Wedde's most distinctive trait is discovered here. Attention then turned to the period Wedde spent in the south, 1972-1974, out of which came Earthly, Dick Seddon's Great Dive (novel) and later Spells; all three display a common core of imagery which I have called the 'Otago vision'. Dick Seddon is considered insofar as it has bearings on the poetry Wedde was writing at the same time as the novel. Earthly is made the occasion of a detailed exploration of the Otago-inspired iconography and the massive reticulation of time, place, and energy which this vision gives rise to. Spells takes up the problems of this multi-connectiveness and my intention was to bring out the play of the personal co-ordinate against the deeply serious explorative one. As for the uncollected work, it seemed to me necessary to bring Wedde's poetry as far up to date as possible. To have left off at Spells would have meant leaving the thesis poetically in 1974, which is a long way back in terms of a poet as prolific and technically innovative as Wedde. For one thing, his most exciting long poems were written in this later period. I felt that nothing barred an interpretative study from at least attempting to understand where Wedde is now, 1978.