Arguing about Leigh Davis
Davis' tenure at Tranzrail coincided with the stripping of many of the company's assets, cuts in spending on staff training, and a succession of fatal accidents that the union movement blamed on the board's mismanagement and miserliness.
When he wasn't helping to transform the New Zealand economy, Leigh Davis self-published a series of books, beginning with Willy's Gazette, a series of loose sonnets that appeared in the middle of the '80s. In one of the essays in his new book Re-inventing New Zealand, Roger Horrocks hails Leigh Davis as a brilliant poet who has not had his due from readers and critics. Horrocks' essay is critical of Emma Fergusson, a graduate student who used her thesis to examine the links between Davis' poetry and his life in the corporate world.
In my review of Re-inventing New Zealand for Landfall, I defended Emma Fergusson's work on Davis, and questioned why Roger Horrocks seems determined to isolate Davis' poetry from his deeds and his worldview. Horrocks has responded to some of my points, and we've been having a discussion here.
[Posted by Scott Hamilton]