About Gary Langford
Gary Langford (b. 1947, Christchurch) is a New Zealand poet and author with more than forty books to his name, including sixteen volumes of poetry. His literary career includes editorships and teaching positions in his native country and Australia, and he is a co-ordinator of New Zealand poets for the Poetry Archive.
Langford breaks his reading into seven sections, covering material from family issues to the history of warfare, working in serious and comical veins to embrace both performance and writing styles. It is a performance, therefore, that can stretch from the oppressive creature that haunts ‘Reflections on the Beast’ to the light-hearted story of almost-accidental sex occurring on a plane as it falls from the sky in ‘What to Do in a Planecrash’.
He is a poet interested in voices, and several of the poems in this performance use the monologue form, or slip into the voice of a character within a poem. ‘The Family Takes a Commercial Break’ presents a listener with the private inner thoughts of four members of a TV-dinner-eating family during a cut in their programme, for example, while ‘Parrot Lady’ is spoken in the persona of a dead woman watching her daughter-in-law’s ongoing life. The poet’s own voice, however, appears seemingly without disguise in poems such as ’21 Pieces of Advice on the Path to Wisdom,’ which he tells us was written for his own daughter’s twenty-first birthday.
Langford’s interest in voice and performance shows in his reading with a clear, mellow delivery, providing introductions to each of the seven sections that help place a poem for a listener. His poem ‘The Garden’ speaks of us searching for “voices able to obtrude the false and fickle”, and listeners may hear how far his poetry, and his performance of it, show the results of his efforts in that search, culminating in how we are all ‘Travelers’.
Recorded on 6 February 2008 at Tandem Voice Booth, Christchurch
Produced by Jonny Pipe