Davis, Leigh

Davis, Leigh

Information

residence
Deceased

In Brief

Leigh Davis was a poet, artist and publisher. Davis’s first book, Willy’s Gazette (1983), won the Best NZ First Book of Poetry Award. He was also published widely as a critic. Davis’ publishing ventures and editorial positions cemented his reputation as a leading public intellectual. Davis described his work as, ‘Book length contemporary poems which engage their physical media (books, textiles, web) as ideas in the work.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Davis, Leigh (1955-2009) was a poet, a critic, an artist and a publisher.

Davis was born in Wanganui. He attended Auckland University where he completed an MA First Class Hons in English. He went on to study at Victoria University of Wellington where he took numerous graduate papers including, economics, mathematics, and commercial law.

From the early 1980s Davis was a high profile businessman and merchant banker. He worked in both public and private sectors before going on to start JUMP - his management company.

Davis’s first book Willy’s Gazette (1983) won the Best NZ First Book of Poetry Award. Willy’s Gazette as well as co-editing the magazine AND with Alex Calder and Roger Horrocks from 1983 to 1985 established Davis as a leading avant-garde artist and public intellectual.

Late in the 1990s Davis returned to art/publishing with Station of Earth-Bound Ghosts (1998) an installation of flags (writing and visual art). Davis went on to publish Te Tangi a te Matuhi (1999) with Jack Books, another Davis project. Jack Books added their web site www.jackbooks.com in 2000 with the publication of General Motors a collection of poetry and visual art that is available as both a physical and virtual book.

In 2001 Jack Books published The Book of Hours, a trilogy that is available as both a physical and virtual book. ‘The Footstool’ from the General Motors collection was selected for the Best New Zealand Poems 2001.


Leigh Davis was published widely as a critic. His essays on art and letters appeared in Landfall, ArtAsia Pacific, and Brief Description. He has also contributed to art ventures and promotions including public lectures on art and poetry, as well as participating in the Bad Language Series (with Artspace) in 2001.

Davis described his work as 'Book length contemporary poems which engage their physical media (books, textiles, web) as ideas in the work.' He passed away in October 2009 and posthumously received the 2009 Kathleen Grattan Award for the manuscript Stunning Debut of the Repairing of a life, which was published by Otago University Press in 2010.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

Updated February 2022.