Loney, Alan

Loney, Alan



In Brief

Alan Loney is a poet and printer. He printed his first book, The Bare Remembrance, in 1971 and in 1975 set up Hawk Press to print his own and others’ poetry. From 1987 to 1991 he operated Black Light Press and he also worked as an editor and tutor while continuing to publish his poetry. In 1994 he became printer and co-director of the Holloway Press at the University of Auckland. Loney’s collections of poetry have won numerous awards and he has received a number of fellowships. His work is published locally and internationally.


Loney, Alan (1940– ), poet and printer, was born in Lower Hutt and attended Hutt Valley HS. He has since lived in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland. He began publishing poetry in the late 1960s and has described his discovery of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems as decisive: ‘Everything I have written since then has been informed by the lessons learnt in that, for me, extraordinary and illuminating encounter’ (‘The Influence of American Poetry on Contemporary Poetic Practice in New Zealand’, Journal of New Zealand Literature 10, 1992).

His first book The Bare Remembrance (1971) juxtaposed personal and local elements with references to early European contact with Maori. He printed it himself and in 1975 set up Hawk Press, originally at Taylors Mistake, near Christchurch, to print his own and others’ poetry. His dear Mondrian (Hawk, 1976), which won a New Zealand Book Award, is a sequence in which personal elegies alternate with reflections on the Dutch painter. In the preface to Shorter Poems 1963–77 (1979) Loney wrote: ‘Nothing is so sacred or so despicable that it cannot, at some time, by a voice that on occasion is equal to it, be uttered as poetry.’ In 1982–83 he edited the three issues of Parallax, a journal of postmodern literature and art reflecting the influence of American poetics and theory. The last of some thirty Hawk Press publications was Squeezing the Bones (1983), a spare text about the death of his father treated with simultaneous multi-colour printing on a handpress. From 1987 to 1991 he operated Black Light Press, to further develop the art of fine printing. Among its products were two which used his own writing: Swell (1987), poems and prints utilising wood and metal types and printer’s blocks in several colours, and an essay & the Ampersand (1990). In 1988–90 he edited New Zealand Crafts magazine, and in 1989 founded the Book Arts Society. In 1992 he was writing fellow and in 1993 became a tutor in English at the University of Auckland. His Missing Parts, Poems 1977–90 (Hazard Press, 1992) contains nine sequences, including ‘Squeezing the Bones’ and ‘Swell’. He described The erasure tapes (1994) as ‘an autobiography in which I refuse to tell the story of my life’. In 1994 he became printer and co-director of the Holloway Press at the Tamaki Campus of the University of Auckland. PS


Alan Loney's Dear Mondrian received the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry at the 1977 New Zealand Book Awards.

Alan Loney was the Auckland University Literary Fellow in 1992. He resigned as printer and co-director of the Holloway Press in 1998 and now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

His recent poetry collections are: Envoy (Puriri Press, 1996), Sidetracks: Notebooks 1976 - 1991 (AUP, 1998), Mondrian's flowers (Granary Books, USA, 2002), Imago Mundi (Melbourne, limited edition, 2003) and Rise (Janus Press, USA, 2003).

Robert Creeley writes of Sidetracks: Notebooks 1976 - 1991: 'Alan Loney's work has always been at the cutting edge of New Zealand's place in world literature. He is a poet of international stature, whose mastery has become a resource for us all. This book is consummate instance of his compelling and well-earned authority.'

Loney's recent prose titles include: Reading/Saying/Making: Selected Essays 1977-2000 (The Writers Group, 2001), The Falling: a memoir (AUP, 2001), Bruno Leti Studio 2002 (limited edition, Melbourne, 2002), Bruno Leti, Survey, Artists Books 1982-2003 (Geelong Gallery, 2003), Caroline Williams: Uneasy White (Janne Land Gallery, 2003), Meditatio: the printer printed: manifesto (Cuneiform Press, USA, 2004), Leonardo on nothingness (Electio Editions, 2004), Kairos: Where there is poetry (Electio Editions, 2004).

Alan Loney has been an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne's Australian Centre since 2002, a tenure that will end in 2006.

His two recent poetry collections are Fragmenta nova (Five Islands Press, Melbourne, 2005) and Gallipoli (Barbarian Press, Canada, 2005).

Loney had a poem included in Shards of Silver (Steele Roberts, 2006), a book investigating the interplay between photography and poetry.


Updated January 2017.