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Pirie, Mark
Writer's File

Mark Pirie

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Pirie, Mark
In brief
Mark Pirie is a poet and fiction writer, and a critic. Pirie has also worked as an editor and he co-edited JAAM (1995-1998), a pamphlet that under his editorship grew into a quality literary journal. He is a prolific writer, and his many volumes of poetry and published fiction attest to this. His writing often focuses on elements of popular culture, particularly comics, pop lyrics and movies. Pirie has also edited a number of significant literary anthologies.


Pirie, Mark (1974 -) is a poet, a fiction writer, an editor and critic. Pirie is a self-described member of Generation X and his work reflects a fascination with popular culture, particularly comics, pop lyrics and movies.

Pirie grew up in Wellington and San Francisco. He studied at Victoria University and in 1997 finished a BA with Honours in English. While a student Pirie spent time working as a DJ on radio Active 89FM.

He also began co-editing JAAM (1995-1998) a pamphlet that under his editorship grew into a quality literary periodical. Pirie then edited The NeXt Wave (1998) an anthology of new New Zealand writers. In 2000 Pirie completed an MA in English at the University of Otago.

His first five poetry collections were Shoot (1999), described by Bill Direen as 'reveal[ing] a wicked sense of humour and a cunning sense of style'; No Joke (2001)  again reviewed by Direen, who wrote, 'here the form allows the poet's fragility and sensitivity to be heard'; The Blues (2001); Reading the Will (Sudden Valley Press, 2002) and Dumber (2003), which laments that our culture is getting 'dumber' and thus presents poems that are both parodic and purposely 'dumb';

Gallery (2003) brings together the best of Pirie's early work from his first five books published in New Zealand. 'A "stubborn integrity" characterises these poems as it does Pirie's admirable work as publisher and editor.' from the Foreword by Harry Ricketts.

His further collections of poetry include  Bullet Poems, which takes aim at a wide variety of contemporary issues and debates, particularly war, politics and world events; and Poems for Poets (2004), a collection of dedications and elegies to many New Zealand and international poets such as William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Allen Curnow and John Kinsella.

Giving Poetry A Bad Name: selected early poems (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2005) is a collection of Pirie's earlier work which also includes 36 pages of memorabilia and photos, and over a dozen new poems.

In JAAM (1995-) Pirie has published short fiction, essays and reviews. Much of this work deals with contemporary New Zealand poetry and fiction and reflects Pirie’s ongoing interest in contemporary New Zealand writing. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of Antipodes (USA) and is the New Zealand editor for papertiger, Australia's first CD-ROM journal.

An impression of the sea (2004) is an experimental piece written for the Australian poet Ken Bolton.

Swing and other stories (2002) is a collection of stories which represents a comic and dark view of urban living in '90s New Zealand.

Pirie has edited many anthologies of poetry. These include edited two anthologies of poetry in 2003, called Bookmarks (in memory of Wellington bookshop proprietor Neil Rowe) and The First International Wellington Poetry Festival Anthology (a collection of 35 poets who appeared at the inaugural Wellington festival) which was co-edited with festival organisers Ron Riddell and Saray Torres.

Other anthologies edited by Pirie include: JAAM 21 Greatest Hits: an anthology of writing from 1984-2004, coedited with Michael O'Leary, drawing on work included in HeadworX and Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop publications as well as retrospective material from the first 20 issues of JAAM magazine; Tupelo Hotel (2004) an anthology of poets involved in the annual HeadworX/ESAW winter readings in Wellington; The Second Wellington International Poetry Festival Anthology (2004) the second anthology covering the Wellington readings, edited in coopoeration with festival organisers Ron Riddell and Saray Torres; The Manuka Tree (2005) an anthology of poets involved in the annual HeadworX/ESAW winter readings in Wellington; Poetrymath (2006), edited by Mark Pirie to celebrate the annual Winter Readings in Wellington; and Poetrywall, Anthology of the Poetrywall, coedited with Gemma Rowsell, a collection of the poems written on the Poetrywall at Winter Readings 2007.

He has also been anthologized in a major international anthology Che in Verse, eds Gavin O'Toole and Georgina Jimenez, Aflame Books, UK, 2007.

The Angel Bus (2004) is a collection of song lyrics (1992-1994) that were written by Pirie in his late teens. Blues for Sam is a broadsheet containing a dedicatory poem to poet Sam Hunt, printed by poet Peter Olds' The Broadsheet Company in 2005.

London Notebook (2005) is an 'album of chance experiences and events' recorded during the author's time spent travelling in London, Paris and Cambridge, England. Mahones (2005) is an anthology collection of four poets, featuring Pirie with Bill Dacker, Michael O'Learyand Iain Sharp.

Pirie had a poem included in Shards of Silver (Steele Roberts, 2006), a book investigating the interplay between photography and poetry. Wellington Fool (Earl of Seacliff, 2006) is a mini collection of Pirie's poetry published in the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop mini-series.

Sounds of Sonnets (2007), is a collection of sonnets by Mark Pirie and Michael O'Leary. Each poet has 25 sonnets to depict their style and content, usually elegiac and satirical. In doing so the two poets produce a substantial volume that will entertain and bring notice once again to the sonnet form in New Zealand.

The Search (2007) is a collection of 'lost' poems and two stories unearthed from Pirie's early folders, notebooks and journals. Showing his early experimentation with form, they usher in the influence of generational movements like grunge and hip-hop. Many of Wellington's well known street people and personalities feature in Pirie's poems, including elegies for Robert Jones, Paddy O'Dowd and a tribute to busker legend 'Kenny.'

Private Detective (2007) is a hand-bound collection of poems by Pirie published in a limited edition booklet of 70 copies, by Dunedin handcraft press, Kilmog Press.

Mark Pirie's book Tom (2009) features cover and illustrations by Wellington painter Timon Maxey. Tom is a verse novel set in Wellington during the mid-90s. Poet, critic, and anthologist Harvey McQueen writes that, '[Tom] is a postmodern pastiche of many literary forms, about a struggling young Generation X student in Wellington in the 1990s...the ideas are stimulating. They give me glimpses into how generation 'X'ers think and move. Tom writes an essay on Hopkins. 'Gerard Manley Hopkins wasn't around to hear the blues or the beat of a drum machine but some useful comparisons can still be made.''  

In 2009 Mark Pirie co-edited the first anthology of science fiction poetry from New Zealand editor, poet and fiction writer, Tim Jones. Titled Voyagers, it is published by innovative Australian publishing house Interactive Publications in Brisbane.

Pirie is currently the editor and publisher of HeadworX. HeadworX has, so far, published over 50 books of poetry and fiction. Pirie, through HeadworX, supports both established and new New Zealand writers.

Mark Pirie is editor of the anthology A Tingling Catch: A century of NZ cricket poems 1864-2009 (HeadworX, 2010). A Tingling Catch is a unique anthology in which a wide range of New Zealand poets expand the tradition and range of cricket writing and art.

His collection of poetry Thinking Cap: A Book of Epigrams was released in 2011.