I was born in New Zealand in 1945 and grew up in the Far North and in Wellington where, apart from living in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and Sydney for several years, I have been based ever since.

I hold an MA (Dist) and a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). In 2005, I was Writer in Residence at VUW's International Institute of Modern Letters.

Initially, I trained as a nurse at the Wellington Hospital School of Nursing and after graduating worked principally in orthopaedics, paediatrics and coronary care.

My subsequent occupations and interests––arranged around family commitments, living abroad and my enjoyment of diversity–– included university study; column writing; film reviewing; coordinating and set dressing TV commercials; managing university halls of residence; censoring videos as an examiner with the then Video Recordings Authority; and making my own documentaries: The Count––Profile of a Polemicist (a study of poet and eccentric Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk, TV1, The Tuesday Documentary), I'm Deaf––It's OK (a day in the life of a profoundly deaf nine year old boy, TV1), Taking a Stand (Tough Love and the parental perspective in out-of-control teenage behaviour, TV1), A Case of Sex (the advent of explicit sexual material as home entertainment, TV3, Inside New Zealand).

From 1996 to 2002 I was a member of the New Zealand Film and Literature Board of Review.

During this period, having raised four children and with time outside of work to call my own, I started to write creatively. By then in my fifties, I enrolled in the VUW undergraduate Original Composition paper, popularly called ‘Bill Manhire’s creative writing course’. I planned to concentrate on short fiction with a view to developing scripts for short films; instead, I found myself drawn to poetry: to poetry’s economy and precision, to its facility for capturing and lifting the ‘core of each convincing moment’ to the imagination, to its capacity for narrative.

In 1997 I was joint winner of the VUW Prize in Original Composition with ‘Notes Along the Cool Edge of a Page’, a folio of poetry.

That year I was also joint winner of the Novice Writer’s Award in the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Memorial Awards with ‘The Waiting’, a short story based on the traumatic death of a patient I had cared for as a student nurse.

I began to have poetry and prose published in journals in New Zealand and overseas. In 2000, I was the cover poet in Poetry New Zealand 20. I felt as if I had come home.

My first book of poetry, Animals Indoors (Victoria University Press), was published in 2000, and won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2001 NZ Montana Book Awards.

This was followed by Unquiet World: The Life of Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk (VUP), a memoir-biography published to acclaim in 2001 and, in 2003, in Polish translation (Jagiellonian University Press, Krakow).

A second collection of poetry, The Scientific Evidence of Dr Wang (VUP), which appeared in 2003, was succeeded by a third collection, Cover Stories (VUP), in 2005, and a fourth collection, Vivid Familiar (VUP), in 2009.

Meanwhile, in 2006, I had completed a novel, The Fountain of Tears (VUP), a poetic narrative based on historic events.

Since 2004 my writing career has been complicated by chronic pain––the result of a fall onto a marble floor in 2003 when I was visiting Poland. After the accident, I became aware of much awkwardness around, and a reluctance to speak plainly about, physical pain––continuing pain in particular. As the pain worsened, I saw a need to bring visibility and a measure of clarity to chronic pain. Between 2010 and 2013, I set myself the task of examining the lived reality of the condition in a PhD dissertation entitled How Does It Hurt?: Narrating Pain. A memoir, How Does It Hurt?, adapted from the PhD, will be published by VUP in November 2014.