Happy Birthday Suit: An Exploration of Erotic Poetry

Landers, Trevor
Johnson, Mike Oliver
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Master of Creative Writing
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Auckland University of Technology

Happy Birthday Suit is a collection of contemporary poetry addressing erotic themes. It is preceded by an exegesis, Beyond Skin Deep: Towards a Whakapapa of a Literary Erotic Poetry in New Zealand.

The exegesis provides intellectual support for the idea that erotic poetry can be academically delineated from smut, obscenity and pornography, whilst acknowledging it may contain elements which appear obscene or pornographic. The argument is that erotic poetry is characterised by love, desire and intimacy, which underpins the three creative poetic cycles of the creative work. It is also argued that in post-colonial society still riven with conservatism and puritanism, the act of writing erotic poetry is also an act of rebellion. The latter half of the exegesis examines my own intellectual whakapapa and influences.

Happy Birthday Suit is a three-cycle collection of poems addressing erotic themes and issues. The constituents of erotic poetry: love and affection, desire and lust, and intimacy and sensuality are canvassed, illustrating that an erotic poem must set out to intentionally engage eros in order to be considered truly erotic. In many ways this was a manifestation of the influence of the writings of Tuwhare, cummings, Neruda, Cesereanu and others. These writings have created a body of work in the erotic mode that represents an intellectual whakapapa, providing signposts and guidance on how to write literary erotic poetry as distinct from mere smut or crudity.

Poetry , Erotica , Erotic literature , New Zealand poetry
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