A city’s image is always complex, and Wellington is no exception. For over 150 years it’s had to contend with being a capital city; being in the middle of the country; being on unstable ground. From these complexities an identity has emerged, what Lonely Planet described as “a little city with a big rep”. But beside this identity is another, more marginal Wellington, and one writer has been described as the “keeper of its keys”: Geoff Cochrane.
My barista asks me where he can find my books, and
I’m not exactly thrilled by this development. My barista
thinks I’m a great bloke, currently, and I don’t want him
reading my books and changing his mind.
Cochrane has lived in Wellington for most of his life. While he started writing at an early age, it wasn’t until Victoria University Press released Aztec Noon: Poems 1976-1992 that he first found a home at a mainstream publisher. He has gone on to win numerous awards, including the Janet Frame Prize for Poetry and a 2014 Laureate Award, as well as regular appearances in Best New Zealand Poems.
Despite these accolades, Cochrane’s work continues to evoke Wellington’s physical–and literary–boundaries. His latest poetry collection, RedEdits, takes the reader to the Warehouse in Rongotai, to A&E, to his barista. It reveals the butt of his cigarettes, a drop of his blood, a verandah in Levin.
Points of Interest
Sand and water make up 99% of fracking fluid.
Winston Churchill did without a close male friend.
Nembutal is the trade name of sodium pentobarbital.
Michelangelo completed his Pietà at the age of 25.
(According to Martin Amis, wars get old.
Get grizzled and smelly and rotten and mad,
and the bigger they are the faster they age.)
Cochrane’s writing has been called “one of the great pleasures” of New Zealand literature. Writer Pip Adam has described it as “a joy to me, a solace, a proof that art can be made in New Zealand which shows ourselves in new ways.” To discover this proof for yourself, check out RedEdits at Wellington City Libraries.