Trussell, Denys

Trussell, Denys

In Brief

Denys Trussell is a poet, biographer, musician, and ecologist. His poetry, essays and criticism have since been published in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, France, and the US. He won the 1985 PEN Best First Book Award for non-fiction with Fairburn (1984), about the life of poet A.R.D. Fairburn. His poetry collection, Walking into the Millennium (1998) was shortlisted in the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Two of his long poems have been choreographed and set to music.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trussell, Denys (1946 - ) is a poet, biographer, essayist, musician and ecologist.

Music has been an important part of Trussell's life from an early age. He trained as a classical pianist with his father, William Trussell, giving recitals throughout New Zealand. Two of his long poems have been choreographed and set to music.

Trussell studied history and literature and graduated with a Masters degree in 1971. His first poems appeared in print the next year, and his poetry, essays and criticism have since been published in New Zealand, Australia, Britain, France and the US.

His two biographies are both of artists. Fairburn (1984), a life of poet A.R.D. Fairburn,won the PEN Best First Book Award for non-fiction in 1985. 'Literary biography in its fullest sense makes its first appearance (in New Zealand) with this book,' writes Peter Simpson in Landfall.

Alan Pearson: His Life and Art (1991) looks at the Liverpool-born Expressionist painter.

'Trussell manages to give us an account of an indomitable life and an appreciation of an extarordinary body of work, and to set it in revealing perspectives on contemporary art here and overseas...' writes Kevin Ireland in NZ Listener.

Trussell's poetry collections are Dance of the Origin (1980); Words for the Rock Antipodes (1986); The Man of Paridise (1991); Archipelago: The Ocean Soliloquies (1991, 2nd edition 1999); Walking Into the Millennium (1998); and Islands of Intimacy (2000). Walking into the Millennium was shortlisted in the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Critics have noted Trussell's interest in ecology and the natural environment, his drawing from '...long phrases / of coast and ocean, / from syllables coiled / minutely in seed and roe, / from the vowels, sharp / in the throat of gulls.'

'Images of the destructive outcome of human confrontation with nature are eloquently evoked,' writes Alison Parr in New Zealand Books. '[A]t the same time there is acknowledgement of the renewal possible through imagination, symbolism and myth.'

In 2001 and 2002 Trussell published two long essays representing the cross-section of his interests. The first, 'The Drum that Sings', is a review of New Zealand piano music, based on his own performing experience, and on a concert by the Wellington pianist, Dan Poynton. The second piece, 'Nature and the Pakeha, Finding a Way in Oceania' discusses the literary and artistic ways that Europeans have developed in coming to know nature in Oceania.

A second edition of Islands of Intimacy, Love Poems 1970-2000 was published in 2002.

Speaking to the Islands of the Ancestors: Four long poems and commentaries (Brick Row Publishing, Auckland and California, 2005), is Denys Trussell's seventh book of poems. These four poems are the composite image of a history - a history that is the poets and perhaps that of other New Zealanders whose ancestry lies in the northern hemisphere.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

  • Denys Trussell interviewed by Kevin Ireland on Jam Radio

Updated January 2017.