Fitchett, Sue

Fitchett, Sue


Primary publisher
Auckland University Press

In Brief

Sue Fitchett is a poet and editor. She has worked extensively in the area of Clinical Psychology and as a health activist in Auckland. She is an avid conservationist and member of the Waiheke Volunteer Fire Brigade. Fitchett’s first collection of poetry Palaver Lava Queen focused on the city of Auckland and drew on its explosive history: both literal and metaphorical, volcanic and colonial. She co-edited Eat These Sweet Words: The New Zealand Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Poetry. Fitchett has published poetry in a variety of literary journals and magazines. Her second collection On the Wing alludes to birds and their relationship to humans.


Fitchett, Sue (1945 – ) is a poet. Born in Lower Hutt, Fitchett gained a Diploma in Clinical Psychology from Auckland University in 1975. Prior to her retirement in 2007 Fitchett worked extensively as a clinical psychologist. She has also been a health activist for the Auckland Women’s Health Collective and wrote intermittently for Broadsheet magazine from 1978 to 1993. She is presently engaged in conservation projects and is a member of the Waiheke Volunteer Fire Brigade. She lives on Waiheke Island.

Her first collection of poetry, Palaver Lava Queen (Auckland University Press, 2004), features the city of Auckland as its main character. Fitchett writes about the city and its explosive history: both literal and metaphorical; volcanic and colonial. Reviewing Palaver Lava Queen in Takahe (May 2005) Jen Crawford comments that: ‘if Fitchett’s cadences now and then seem too closely tied to the prosaic or educational, the exchange between the mundane and what it conceals is of conscious concern here. She writes ‘of an island’s slow pull out of a poem / into a suburb’, while the collection offers a pleasure quite the opposite – the unravelling of the suburban into its own poetic history.’

Fitchett is the co-author of Charts & Soundings: Some Small Navigation Aids (Spiral, 1999) which interweaves her poetry with photographs by Jane Zusters. She also co-authored Drawing Together (Spiral, 1985), with Marina Bachmann and Janet Charman.

She is co-editor of Eat These Sweet Words: The New Zealand Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Poetry (Giant Press, 1999).

Her second collection of poetry On the Wing was published by Steele Roberts in 2014. Libby Hart reviewed the collection on the 'What the Bird Said' review blog. She said, 'On the Wing is an impressive collection. I admired its verve and sonic capabilities, as well as its eccentricities and humour. On the Wing is a delight to hold in the hand too. Much larger and wider than standard collection size, it is a beautiful object.'

Fitchett is a co-editor (with Frances Edmond) of Night Burns with a White Fire – The Essential Lauris Edmond (Steele Roberts 2017)
Fitchett says of her poetic work: ‘I have been variously interested in exploring written text as a visual object and the page as a textual field (Charts & Soundings), text and subtext exploring gender, sexuality and power issues (Drawing Together/Eat These Sweet Words), the radial reading around a theme, for example, volcanoes and the inclusion of fragments, speech and colloquial language in poems (Palaver Lava Queen) to create a cohesive larger work or poetic meditation.'

Fitchett’s work has been variously published in anthologies and journals in New Zealand and overseas.

She was co-winner of the 1998 NZ Poetry Society International Competition and awarded the Louis Johnson Bursary 2001-2002.

Her poetry features on the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (see links below).


Updated July 2022.