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Were, Virginia
Writer's File

Virginia Were

Auckland - Tāmaki Makaurau
Were, Virginia
In brief
Virginia Were is a poet and fiction writer with a background in fine arts. Her writing moves deftly between verse narrative and prose poetry. Her first collection, Juliet Bravo Juliet, was published in 1989 and it is a collection of prose and poetry in three thematically linked sections. Her writing has been published in various journals and magazines, and the anthology, Shards of Silver.


Were, Virginia (1960– ), poet and prose writer, has published in magazines like Sport, NZ Listener and Landfall. She studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating 1982, was a member of the music group ‘Marie and the Atom’, and has travelled in the Pacific and India.

Juliet Bravo Juliet (1989) is a collection of prose and poetry in three sections thematically linked by the idea of tourist travel as a metaphor for life. The book skilfully manoeuvres between the different features of these genres, moving towards hybrid forms of verse narrative and prose poetry.

Were’s writing is precise and lucid: occasionally impressionistic, she always signposts a flight of fancy. Literal images in the short prose pieces of the first section develop a moral perspective, a personal comment, or a future scenario: in ‘The Clyde Dam’, ‘the earth winces as its seams are drawn together by pins’. The poetry in the second section functions like a travelogue, narrating a personal engagement with different people and locations. In the third section four short stories are told by a detached narrator who panoramically surveys the locations described: characters on the road travel to local destinations, registered in titles which are also doubled place names—‘Greymouth/Blackball’; ‘Timaru /Dunedin’—and visit far-flung cities like Leuka and Delhi.

Were now lives in Devonport.



Were has also published a collection of poetry, Jump Start (Victoria University Press, 1998).

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

October 2023
October 2023