Kate Camp

Portrait Kate Camp
© Hartwig Klappert

Kate Camp was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1972. She studied English literature at the Victoria University of Wellington. Her first anthology of poems »Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars« (1998) includes short poems mostly in free verse, which cover a broad range of themes − current events as well as philosophical problems. Her debut gained Kate Camp recognition as one of the most important voices of the young generation of writers. In her second collection of poetry, »Realia« (2001) Camp touches on serious issues, yet in a playful tone. Critics have stressed Camp’s interest in pop culture and the contemporary. They consider her part of »a grown-up generation X«. In 2002 Camp was a Writer in Residence at the University of Waikato. The poems she wrote in that period were published in 2005 under the title »Beauty Sleep«. They include a cycle about a woman who suffers from insomnia she says: »As in many of my poems, the detail here is pretty autobiographical. The house is the cottage I lived in Hamilton. Living inland, the difference between daytime and night-time temperatures can be extreme. I would lie in bed at night listening to the sounds of the house as it cooled off.« For her recent anthology of poems, »The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls« (2010) she received the New Zealand Book Award in 2011. The title refers to »The Mirror of Simple Souls«, a piece of writing by the medieval mystic Marguerite Porète, who was accused of heresy by the church and was burnt at the stake in Paris in 1310. The judge Michael Harlow says: »Kate Camp has rather courageously accepted the challenge to make words sing to that universal and always fascinating experience: what is it that love desires the self to do, and be − in the service of what we can recognise as soul-making. Camp demonstrates a poetic brilliance of her own by making ›original translations‹ of her own in a contemporary idiom that deals with the spiritual dimension of life-lived-in-the world.«
In addition to her lyrical work, Kate Camp writes literary reviews and essays, e.g. for NZ radio. Her literary essays were published in 2006 in a book with the title »Kate’s Klassics«. From September 2011 on Kate Camp will be a fellow of the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency, which was founded in the year 2000 and offers writers from New Zealand a chance to work on a long-term project within the cultural setting of Berlin/Germany.

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