CK Stead

CK Stead is challenging, fun, urbane and brilliant. Read him,” says The Spectator. We concur and add: “Come meet him in Marlborough.”

The distinguished, award-winning novelist, poet and essayist is also well-known as a critic of New Zealand literature. CK Stead’s major novels include Smith’s Dream, All Visitors Ashore, My Name Was Judas, Mansfield, Talking About O’Dwyer, The Singing Whakapapa and The Secret History of Modernism.

As an aspiring poet, he was a protégé of Frank Sargeson and Allen Curnow. An academic, CK has an international reputation as an expert on 20th century poetic Modernism. He was Professor of English at the University of Auckland from 1967 to 1986 when he stopped teaching to write full time. He is still Professor Emeritus.  CK is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate and has won the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction. He is also a Member of the Order of New Zealand, our highest honour.

CK lives in Auckland with his wife Kay. Their daughter Charlotte Grimshaw was a guest author at last year’s Marlborough Book Festival.

“Gathered from throughout Stead’s career, these stories are a reminder of his deft storytelling and literary power. They are clever, sensual, wry and beautifully written, with Stead’s subtle sense of humour evident at every turn.” - Allen and Unwin

C.K. Stead’s Collected Poems deserves to be seen as an important contribution to the literature of the English speaking world. His talent is more than ambidextrous. To excel as a poet, novelist and critic is rarer than we tend to think, and Karl Stead has managed it.” - Karl Miller, Founding Editor of the London Review of Books

For more info, read CK's bio on the New Zealand Book Council website, article on Stuff, The Guardian article and The New Zealand Herald 12 Questions 2013.




Photo credit: Marti Friedlander



Festival sessions held

An Evening with CK Stead 

CK Stead in conversation with Tessa Nicholson

CK Stead’s extraordinary collection of stories The Name on the Door is Not Mine (shortlisted for the Acorn Fiction Prize of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards), along with his appointment as New Zealand Poet Laureate, confirms his position as one of our most exceptionally talented writers. Don’t miss this wonderful festival opening session; the literary giant in conversation with Marlborough journalist Tessa Nicholson about his fiction, frank views and friendships with other eminent literary figures.


Well Versed - a Poetry Panel

Poets CK Stead, Emma Neale and Brian Turner in conversation with Jane Forrest Waghorn

Three highly acclaimed New Zealand poets - CK Stead, Emma Neale and Brian Turner - read their work and tell us what poetry is to them.


The Laureate and the Librarian

CK Stead discusses poetry with Jane Forrest Waghorn

Language is what distinguishes us on our planet, and poetry pushes that everyday currency out into new territories of sense – sensory and semantic. I think of writing a poem as putting oneself in the moment at the moment,” writes CK Stead. Put yourself in the moment and contemplate poetry with the Laureate and former librarian, Jane Forrest Waghorn, in the intimate Boathouse Theatre.