Fleur Adcock writes about men and women, childhood, identity, roots and rootlessness, memory and loss, animals and dreams, as well as our interactions with nature and place. Her poised, ironic poems are remarkable for their wry wit, conversational tone and psychological insight, unmasking the deceptions of love or unravelling family lives. Born in New Zealand in 1934, she spent the war years in England, returning with her family to New Zealand in 1947. She emigrated to Britain in 1963, working as a librarian in London until 1979. In 1977-78 she was writer-in-residence at Charlotte Mason College of Education, Ambleside. She was Northern Arts Literary Fellow in 1979-81, living in Newcastle, becoming a freelance writer after her return to London. She received an OBE in 1996, and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006 for Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 2000). Fleur Adcock published three pamphlets with Bloodaxe: Below Loughrigg (1979), Hotspur (1986) and Meeting the Comet (1988), as well as her translations of medieval Latin lyrics, The Virgin & the Nightingale (1983). She also published two translations of Romanian poets with Oxford University Press, Orient Express by Grete Tartler (1989) and Letters from Darkness by Daniela Crasnaru (1994). All her other collections were published by Oxford University Press until they shut down their poetry list in 1999, after which Bloodaxe published her collected poems Poems 1960-2000 (2000), followed by Dragon Talk (2010), Glass Wings (2013), The Land Ballot (2015) and Hoard (2017). Poems 1960-2000 and Hoard are Poetry Book Society Special Commendation while Glass Wings is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
'My favourite book of 2015 was also the shortest I read all year, which didn't save me any time because I read it five or six times over, with deepening enjoyment. Fleur Adcock's poetry collection The Land Ballot is just 90-odd pages long. It looks back ambivalently at her native New Zealand and is largely occupied with her late father's life...I left the book on an Edinburgh-Glasgow train and feel slightly lost without it, and only half mollified by the thought that someone else is reading it now.' - Brian Morton, Sunday Herald (Books of the Year 2015), on The Land Ballot; 'Adcock, born in New Zealand but now settled in England, has always been interested in roots, gender and identity. She is acutely aware of those women whose stories have disappeared: women who have been marginalised or forgotten and symbolised perhaps by the anonymous "aproned figure" in "Settlers' Museum"... Lives are decoded here with extraordinary psychological insight and intimacy. These vivid, deeply moving poems demonstrate Adcock's characteristic mixture of playfulness, questioning and deprecation in a tone that is always restrained, rational, conversational. The poems have all the freshness of thinking aloud and demonstrate a wry wit that never conflicts with seriousness or humanity.' - Sue Leigh, PN Review, on The Land Ballot; 'The way a landscape can shape personal and family history is central to Fleur Adcock's The Land Ballot. The title refers to how her immigrant grandparents acquired a plot of bush in New Zealand's North Island, and laboriously transformed it into viable farmland. Adcock plunders family diaries, reminiscences and contemporary news items to piece together the lives and inner worlds of various relatives...her lively narrative poems are interspersed with extracts from her original sources. The settler experience is powerfully captured in this imaginative exercise in resurrecting the dead.' - Juanita Coulson, The Lady, on The Land Ballot