BERNARD BROWN was born
near Ipswich, England, in 1934. He moved to New Zealand in 1962 after
stints in the Royal Air Force and teaching at Singapore University.
A law lecturer at Auckland University, he has published widely on
legal matters, but early acquaintance with English poets John Heath-Stubbs
and D.J Enright encouraged him also to write verse. His four poetry
collections are Up to Nowadays (1972), Victims and Traders
(1980), Surprising the Slug (1996) and Unspeakable Practices:
Parables of Rumbling Disgust in Verse, Stories and Sketches (2001).
Brown comments: Respects
records the early 1960s funeral of Bob Lowry, a legendary New Zealand
typographer who printed the first books of many of the countrys
finest writers. He was also renowned for his hospitality, which was
heavier on liquids than solids. The poet in the poem [Denis
Glover], a lifelong friend and war hero, found the occasion much more
harrowing than Arctic convoys and the D-Day beach-head he had commanded.
He had brought verse to read, but as his rasping tones gave out he
placed the pages in the grave along with a bottle of whisky.
I have recast this
piece a dozen times. Each version got edgier. The first ought to have
been buried with Bob like a lot of much better, less bleak
poems were, along with the pulsating memories and that bottle of scotch.