James K. Baxter Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Baxter, James K. 1926–1972

A New Zealand poet, playwright, and critic, Baxter is generally ranked among the finest authors that country has produced. His work is strongly regional, drawing inspiration from the New Zealand wilderness, its tribal history, and natural cycles. Baxter's rejection of conventional social standards is evidenced by the unorthodoxy of much of his verse. A devout Christian, he has shaped his poetic philosophy to include elements of both religious and classical mythology, creating a viewpoint that is as highly moral as it is individualistic. To Baxter, a poem must be "a cell of good living in a corrupt society." Stylistically, his work is lyrical and metaphorical, and often shows the influence of Lawrence Durrell and Robert Lowell. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)