Poetry & Gender in New Zealand Publishing – an occasional series

News in Brief: the boys are still winning; the girls haven’t yet caught up.

Since 2008, I’ve been looking at the Journal of Commonwealth Literature’s annual summary of what was published in New Zealand the previous year.  Despite a general perception that more female poets are being published here, it’s actually the other way around.  Here’s a little table showing that, in each year since 2008, male poets account for around six in every ten poetry books published in New Zealand; female poets for about four.

          F           M
2008 36% 63%
2009 43% 57%
2010 42% 58%
2011 43% 57%

Where it gets interesting, is breaking the books into those published by “larger” poetry publishers (and in here I’ve included AUP, VUP, Steele Roberts & Random House – who put out Hone Tuwhare’s collection in 2011) and those published by smaller presses (such as Headworx, Seraph Press, Titus and Earl of Seacliffe).  Women outnumber men at the larger presses (18 female poets and 15 male poets in 2011), while men outnumber women at the smaller presses (9 female poets and 22 male poets in 2011 + one person I couldn’t put into a gender box from their initials).  So that probably explains why people have a sense that more women are being published.  It would be interesting to look at sales figures too.

Previous posts on the matter:




Disclaimer: I haven’t checked all the books listed by the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, but I did notice they had included at least one novel on their list of poetry books (which I omitted from the analysis) – Mark Stephenson’s No Second Chance.

And because this is the internet, here is a picture of a cat.



  1. I’m really glad you do these wee roundups Janis. They’ve changed my presumptions about poetry in New Zealand. Still some more work to do in evening things out.

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