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A Poet Laureate Collection 2019–2022: Poetry by David Eggleton

Respirator Cover Website

'The scope and invention of these poems is simply dazzling.' – Anne Kennedy

Respirator is a sumptuous celebration of David Eggleton's tenure as the nation's poet-at-large during his time as Aotearoa NZ Poet Laureate (2019–22).

In this collection of probing, kaleidoscopic and richly sensuous poems, Eggleton explores how the social changes and upheavals of the past four extraordinary years manifested in Aotearoa New Zealand, from the impact of living through a pandemic to ecological concerns, technological changes, and shifting viewpoints about identity and global consumerism.

Respirator stands as a powerful artistic record of an unprecedented historical moment.

Australia's heat map in January
glowed every which way, red, purple, black,
and our skies were made yellow by trans-Tasman smoke,
while scarcely less fraught were dog days of February,
as arrivals drifted through airport duty-free,
in a haze of competing perfume spritzes,
and reports came of a strange virus out of Wuhan,
pale horse and pale rider.

— 'Rāhui: Lockdown Journal'


David Eggleton (Rotuman Fijian/Tongan/Pākehā) has published ten previous poetry collections. He is a six-time winner of the Montana Reviewer of the Year, and a former Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. He received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in poetry in 2016, the same year that The Conch Trumpet won the Poetry Award at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. From 2009–17, Eggleton was editor of Landfall. He received the 2018 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers' Residency and served as the New Zealand Poet Laureate 2019–22.

Publication details

Hardback with ribbon, 220 x 170mm, 192pp
ISBN 9781990048500, $35

Reviews and Interviews

Respirator included in Newsroom's Top 10 Poetry Collections of 2023: 'Respirator by former Poet Laureate David Eggleton is a generous, 180-page hardback collection that affirms his role as a poet of the people. His characteristic spoken-word approach uses rhyme and repetition to effect across a wide range of styles, from political satire to incantations and ballad-like histories ...  There are witty, sharp dissections of societal ills as well as research into the histories and poetries of David’s whakapapa in Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa. Together, these two strands give readers something to get fired up about as well as something to learn and grow toward.' Erena Shingade Read

Respirator included in NZ Listener Best Poetry of 2023 List Read

Interview: David Eggleton speaks to Morrin Rout about Respirator on Bookenz, Plains FM Listen

Interview: David Eggleton talks about his time as Aotearoa's Poet Laureate over the Covid-19 lockdown and his new collection Respirator with Vanda Symon for Write On Listen

Article: David Eggleton speaks about his new collection and the launch of Respirator with John Lewis for the Otago Daily Times Read

Review:'Possessing his own distinctive version of that public voice has always been one of Eggleton's strengths, one shared with recent UK poet laureates Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, and with his successor as local laureate, Chris Tse. Eggleton's handsomely produced new collection, Respirator, written during his three-year tenure, attests to that voice, that strength ... Eggleton's poetic has always owed a strong debt to the Beats. His poems, taking the pulse of the time, often work through loosely linked single-line shots or runs of richly loaded metaphor. The results here are exhilarating, mind-bending, heart-thumping.' – Harry Ricketts reviews Respirator for Kete Books Read

Review: 'A hard cover collection with exquisite paper stock and excellent  internal design choices, it is a book to savour over a long period of  time ... Respirator represents the work of a poet writing at his very best, perhaps a fitting endorsement for the benefits of residencies and laureateships for writers ...  David's writing is like a musical score: distinctive, deft, diverse in melody and sumptuous in aural effects.' – Paula Green reviews Respirator for NZ Poetry Shelf Read

Review: Robert Sullivan reviews Respirator for Aotearoa New Zealand Review of Books Read

Review: 'This is a powerful artistic record of an unprecedented historical moment ... Respirator stands alongside his best.' – Hamesh Wyatt reviews Respirator for the Otago Daily Times

Review: 'Exuberant in style, loving word play and having a clear view of the world, his interests are broad ... This is a very rich mix' - Nicholas Reid reviews Respirator for the NZ Listener, April 1-7 2023 Issue

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