Camp, Kate

Camp, Kate


Primary publisher
Victoria University Press; Penguin Random House NZ

In Brief

Kate Camp is a poet. Her first collection, Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Camp is also a reviewer and essayist, and is a familiar voice on Radio NZ. Her writing has also been published in an impressive range of journals.

Image credit: Grant Maiden photography


Camp, Kate (1972 - ) is a poet, essayist, and reviewer.

Kate Camp was born in Wellington. She was educated at Victoria University of Wellington where she completed a BA Hons in English.

Camp's first collection of poetry, Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (Victoria University Press, 1998) won the New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

In the NZ Listener Bill Direen comments, 'Unfamiliar Legends is a first book from a bustling, healthy talent... The poems are unleashed upon us. They may not always be in politically good taste, but they do contain a surprising radicalism and power... One can't help admiring the verve, the adrenalin, the argumentativeness... This is a brave book, which points directly to the next one.'

That second collection, Realia (Victoria University Press) was published in 2001. In the NZ Listener Lydia Wevers writes, 'Camp is GenX grown up. The world reflected in her showcase of "real things" is cool, funny, touching, urban, and consumerist — chairs are vinyl, the best gallery at the Tate Modern is the shop, and TV documentaries are about sex. What I like about Camp's poems is their light but not weightless touch — her observations on the world we live in are recognisable, immensely enjoyable, comic but never pointless.'

In 2002 Camp was the Writer in Residence at Waikato University. At the end of that year she published On Kissing (2002) one of twelve titles in the Montana Estates essay series published by Four Winds Press.

Michael King, in the NZ Herald, wrote 'Camp has much of interest to say about the origins of the habit and about its physiology... She writes a particularly engaging and erudite section on the cinematic kiss.'

Camp's third collection of poetry, Beauty Sleep, was published by Victoria University Press in 2005.

Camp's poems have appeared in magazines and journals including Heat (Australia), Landfall, New Zealand Books, North and South, NZ Listener, Sport, Takahe, and the online magazine Turbine. She has had poems selected for Best New Zealand Poems in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2003 and again in 2006, she was short listed for the prestigious $60,000 Prize in Modern Letters.

Camp is also a reviewer, perhaps best-known for her monthly segment, Kate's Klassics on Kim Hill's Saturday radio programme. A collection of essays based on the Saturday radio segment was published in 2007. The Kate's Classics collection 'offers an engaging survey of ten classic works of literature that have had a profound impact on Western culture and sensibility, ranging from Homer’s Odyssey to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights', writes Andy Armitage at the online arts journal The Lumiere Reader. 'What sets Kate’s Klassics apart from less satisfying overviews of canonical literature is the unapologetic bias of its author. Anyone who has already encountered Camp’s essays will not be surprised by the agreeable blend of intelligence, research, anecdote and humour she brings to her subject.'

Her most recent work is The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls, her fourth collection of poems, published by Victoria University Press in 2010. The first Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls caused its author to be burnt at the stake for heresy in 1310. The new collection demonstrates a darker turn in the work of this popular poet. Shortlisted for the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award, it establishes her in the front rank of New Zealand poets.

Kate Camp was the recipient of the 2011 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency.

The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls
won the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry.

Kate's fifth collection of poetry Snow White's Coffin was published by Victoria University Press in 2013 and was written while she was in Berlin. Snow White's Coffin was a finalist in the Poetry category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

In 2014, Camp’s essay Whale Road was published in Griffith Review 43 (Australia).

Camp was the recipient of the 2016 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship.

A new collection of poetry, The Internet of Things (Victoria University Press), was published in 2017.


  • Victoria University Press Author page on Kate Camp
  • Kate Camp writes about her time on the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency
  • Kate Camp in Best New Zealand Poems 2001
  • Kate Camp in Best New Zealand Poems 2002
  • Kate Camp in Best New Zealand Poems 2003
  • Review of Kate's Klassics at online arts journal The Lumiere Reader

Updated January 2017.