Jan Kemp is a poet, short story writer and accomplished public performer of her work. She began writing and performing with the FREED group in the late 1960s and in the late 1970s toured New Zealand as the only woman in the ‘Gang of Four’, the others being Sam Hunt, Alistair Campbell and Hone Tuwhare. From 1975 – 1999 her career was mostly expatriate, as again from 2007. She was awarded a PEN-Stout Fellowship at Victoria University in 1991. In 2005 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature. She was a Writer in Residence at the Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland in September 2008.
Jan Kemp was on the Book Council's 2002 Words on Wheels tour of the Waikato.
Kemp's poetry collection, Only One Angel (University of Otago Press, 2002) comprises 32 poems that move around the theme of a personal journey towards an intimate relationship. In the preface to the book, Mac Jackson writes: 'Kemp, though absent, has not been silent, and now she is back. Only One Angel shows the maturing of a highly original talent.'
Kemp was the chief instigator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive, launched at the Going West Festival in 2004. The archive is housed in Special Collections at the Library of the University of Auckland and in the Alexander Turnbull Library, and features recordings of 171 New Zealand poets reading their work. It comprises 2,100 tracks collected onto 40 CDs and is accompanied by corresponding textual files, photographs and bibliographical notes about the poets.
Jan Kemp was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature at the 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Kemp's collection, Dante's Heaven (Puriri Press, 2006) is available from Puriri Press, contact details in the 'profile' section.
Working with Jack Ross, Kemp edited Classic New Zealand Poets in Performance (2006) which includes 27 of New Zealands most celebrated poets reading their works in more than two hours of recordings. Since then, she has edited two further collections with Jack Ross of poetry in performance, entitled Contemporary NZ Poets in Performance (Auckland University Press, 2007) and New New Zealand Poets in Performance (Auckland University Press, 2008)
Jan Kemp reading from her poems was released in 2008 by The Poetry Archive, U.K. Samples of her poems can be heard and read on their website: www.poetryarchive.org.
Kemp is a long-standing member of the NZ Society of Authors (PEN), and since she moved to Germany in 2007, has become a member of PEN-Germany.
Jan Kemp's 2006 collection Dante's Heaven will be translated into German by Dieter Riemenschneider and released at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair. It will be published as Dantes Himmel in a bilingual edition with a CD of the poet reading poems in English and German.
Her collection of poetry, Voicetracks, was released in New Zealand in 2012 by Puriri Press & Tranzlit. It will be launched in London at the NZ Studies Network Inaugural Conference at Birbeck, Univ. of London on 6th July.
Jan Kemp will read from her two most recent books at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
- Jan Kemp's biography on the Poetry Archive (UK) website
- Photos from the Four Poets Tour in 1979, featuring Jan Kemp, Hone Tuwhare, Sam Hunt and Alistair Campbell
- A blog for New Zealand Book Month (2007)
- Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive
- nzepc 3rd birthday video clip of Jan Kemp
- There is a bibliography in the Auckland University Library's New Zealand Literature File
- Best New Zealand Poems 2001
- A poem, Eloquentia, published in Trout 11