Gregory O’Brien


GREGORY O’BRIEN is a poet, painter and essayist. He recently curated the exhibition ‘Rosalie Gascoigne’ at City Gallery Wellington, where he works as a curator. His most recent book of poems is Winter I Was (VUP 1999) and a collection of essays about literature and art, After Bathing at Baxter’s appeared in 2002.

O’Brien comments: ‘ “Dark Room” was inspired by an artwork by Wellington photographer Peter Black. The work, entitled “Getting Better”, is made up of 32 black and white photographs, many of which include fragments of language. Details of the work were reproduced in Sport 30, which was a special issue of the journal devoted to the work of Peter Black (and which doubled as the catalogue for a major retrospective of the photographer’s work at the City Gallery Wellington in 2003).

‘Peter Black is a street photographer, picking up on details of life as it goes on around him. The work “Getting Better” is an ensemble-piece, gathering together some of these fragments and orchestrating them into a slightly disconcerting whole. For the poem, “Dark Room”, I adopted Peter Black’s methodology – shifting the viewpoint around, making the linkages – as well as quoting specific images from his work: the busts of Beethoven, the people on the bridge . . .

‘Peter Black is a genius and this poem is my way of saying thanks to him. That is one other useful function poetry can serve.’


Poem: Dark Room



Photospace Studio Gallery – Peter Black

New Zealand Book Council Writer File

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