About this book
How to Be Happy Though Human
New and Selected Poems
A timely collection of new and previously published work by one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed poets, How to Be Happy Though Human introduces Kate Camp’s eclectic and musical poetry to international audiences for the first time.
How to Be Happy Though Human: New and Selected Poems is Kate Camp’s seventh book of poetry and the first to be published outside New Zealand. Incorporating a grouping of new, previously unpublished work and a selection of important poems from her six earlier collections, this volume introduces North American readers to poetry that has been described by critics as “fearless,” “mesmerizing,” and “containing a surprising radicalism and power.”
Camp’s debut collection, Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry on publication over twenty years ago. Subsequent books confirmed Camp as a leading voice of her generation: widely anthologized, studied, and cited as an influence by emerging generations of poets. Camp’s work is recognized for its wide-ranging and eclectic subject matter, its technical control, and its musicality, with pop culture, high culture, the domestic confessional, close observation, and found language featured as recurring elements of style. Her fourth collection, The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls — which shares a title with Belgian mystic Marguerite Porete’s 1310 collection, a book that caused is author to be burned at the stake — won the poetry award at the New Zealand Post Book Awards in 2011 and marked a turn in the poet’s work towards darker and more philosophical subject matter.
A timely retrospective that represents a new chapter in Camp’s career, How to Be Happy Though Human promises to gain a wide readership for this thoughtful, engaging, and popular writer.
About the Author
Kate Camp was born and lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of six collections of poetry and the recipient of all New Zealand’s major literary awards. Camp is also an essayist, a memoirist, and a literary commentator, known for Kate’s Klassics, a nationally syndicated radio program on classic literature that has been running on Radio New Zealand for twenty years. Camp’s work has appeared in many journals at home and internationally, including Landfall and Sport (New Zealand), HEAT (Australia), Brick (Canada), Arc Poetry Magazine (Canada), Akzente (Germany), Qualm (England), and Poetry (U.S.). She works at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS:
“Multi-award-winning poet Kate Camp is a great poet, as her word-rich, haunting latest collection attests . . . Throughout, the tone is conversely conversational and self-referential or omniscient and metaphoric. The resulting complex interplay of rhythm, revelation, and ethics is superb.” — Siobhan Harvey, New Zealand Herald
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND SNOW WHITE’S COFFIN:
“A wild, imaginative energy flares throughout the collection. Kate Camp is a fearless writer. We loved seeing her at full strength, pushing the boundaries of her art.” — New Zealand Post Book Awards Jury Citation
“These poems are the best Camp has produced . . . Clear, intelligent, deep, and quirky.” — Otago Daily Times
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND THE MIRROR OF SIMPLE ANNIHILATED SOULS:
New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry
“Mesmerizing . . . Memorable . . . An exceptionally fine poet who deserves an international readership . . . Camp’s voice is undeniably her own: wry, sympathetic, affable, deadpan . . . [Camp is] aware that her poems must exist within a continuum of thoughtful, civilized art and philosophy while remaining loyal to the eccentricity and value of lived experience . . . An exceptional collection.” — Kevin Connolly, Brick
“The hallmarks of Camp’s earlier writing are still present: irreverent humour, the tough springy style, the swift changes in viewpoints. But one senses a sea change is taking place. With a more sombre atmosphere, a steadier pace, and an increasingly confident linguistic control, this is poetry of true maturity.” — Sarah Quigley, New Zealand Listener
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND BEAUTY SLEEP:
“Revelling in the strange juxtapositions of her poetic quanta, with an acute sense of the resonances they create, Kate Camp engages with ideas in the joyful spirit of the thought-experiment . . . Defying the gravity of conventional exposition, they do not lack humility, humanity, or food for thought, but offer a keen wit, a sense of fun, and the words essential to any honest research: ‘I don’t know.’” — Cilla McQueen, Dominion Post
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND REALIA:
“Camp is Gen X grown up. The world reflected in her showcase of ‘real things’ is cool, funny, touching, urban, and consumerist — chairs are vinyl, the best gallery at the Tate Modern is the shop, and TV documentaries are about sex. What I like about Camp’s poems is their light but not weightless touch — her observations on the world we live in are recognizable, immensely enjoyable, comic but never pointless.” — New Zealand Listener
PRAISE FOR KATE CAMP AND UNFAMILIAR LEGENDS OF THE STARS:
NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry
“Unfamiliar Legends is a first book from a bustling, healthy talent . . . The poems are unleashed upon us. They may not always be in politically good taste, but they do contain a surprising radicalism and power . . . One can’t help admiring the verve, the adrenalin, the argumentativeness . . . This is a brave book, which points directly to the next one.” — Bill Direen, New Zealand Listener