Michael O’Leary is a poet, novelist, publisher, performer and bookshop proprietor who has been a magnetic figure for many other contemporary New Zealand writers. He writes in both English and Māori; and his diverse and prolific work in poetry, fiction and non-fiction explores his dual heritage: Māori on his maternal side and Irish Catholic on his father’s as well as his mother’s. Born in Auckland in the year of the Tiger 1950, he was educated at the universities of Auckland, Otago (Dunedin), and Victoria University (Wellington). His Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop imprint (inspired by Andy Warhol’s ‘Factory’, the Beatles’ Apple label, and John and Yoko’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’), which he founded in 1984, has published some of his own prolific output, as well as many other New Zealand writers. This press has also featured books by writers from other countries, including the first versions of Richard Berengarten’s series, Manual, in four mini-books (2005-2009). The 240-page A-Z compilation, 25 Years of the Earl of Seacliff (ed. Mark Pirie, 2009), documents Michael O’Leary’s versatile and influential oeuvre. Michael O’Leary is a trustee for the Poetry Archive of New Zealand, Aotearoa, a charitable trust dedicated to archiving, collecting and promoting New Zealand poetry. He now lives in Paekakariki, north of Wellington.
Michael O’Leary – Published Work
2009: G’Day Country Redux (with David McGill Silver Owl Press)
2004: Central Cluster Claims: The Upper Whanganui Iwi District (CFRT)
2003: Nga Take Motuhake a Rangitane (CFRT)
1996: History of the National Bank, Te Aro Branch (Private)
1985: Gone West – History of Wakamete Cemetery, Auckland (Auckland City Council)
1984: Grafton Cemetery – Auckland – History (Auckland City Council)
2009: Magic Alex’s Revenge – Novel (completes the Dreamlander Express trilogy with Unlevel Crossings and Straight - ESAW)
2007: Straight – Novel (new ed.) (illustrated by Greg O’Brien) (ESAW)
2002: Unlevel Crossings – Novel (illustrated by Greg O’Brien) (Huia Publishers)
2002: Te Moemoea o Te Rau Tau – Children’s Story (Te Tahuhu o te Matauranga)
1999: Michael O’Leary Stories: Short Stories & Other Prose, archival copy (Original Books)
1999: Out of It – Novel, new ed. (Original Books)
1997-1999: Aucklana Livinia Pluralla; Dream Reality; Sow of Hades; South; Long Dazed Journey Into Night; Yellban Apocryphal; Float the Note; Take the dAy Train (Gradual publication of chapters as ‘Work in Progress’ of novel Unlevel Crossings) (all through Original Books)
1997: The Irish Annals of New Zealand – Novel, Celtic script version (Original Books)
1997: Noa / Nothing I – Short Stories (Original Books)
1991: The Irish Annals of New Zealand – Novel (ESAW, 2001 new edition to coincide with an adaptation for the theatre by Simon O’Connor and performed in Wellington in 2001)
1987: Hala e kolo ni mo ha lanu – Children’s Story (translated into Tongan by Kahoa Corbett, illustrated by Lena Patience - ESAW)
1987: Out of It – Novel (illustrated by Gregory O’Brien - ESAW)
1984: Straight – Novel (illustrated by Gregory O’Brien - ESAW, 1985: 2nd ed)
2007: Alternative Small Press Publishing in New Zealand: 1969-1999: Literary History/Publishing History (Steele Roberts)
2002: Alternative Small Press Publishing in New Zealand: 1969-1999: Literary History/Publishing History, archival copy (Original Books)
1999: It’s All in the Mind You Know – Essay on Samuel Beckett (Original Books)
2009: G’Day Country Redux (with David McGill Silver Owl Press) Poetry/Non-fiction
2008: Paneta Street (HeadworX)
2007: Sounds of Sonnets (with Mark Pirie) (HeadworX)
2005: Mahones: Four Poets: Bill Dacker, Mark Pirie and Iain Sharp (ESAW)
2005: Make Love and War (HeadworX)
2004: Doomsblay – Poetry/Prose (ESAW)
2003: Toku Tinihanga: Selected Poems 1982-2002 (HeadworX)
2002: Taumarunui: Unlevel Crossings of a Literary Kind – Poetry/Diary (illustrated by Michael O’Leary - Original Books)
2001: He Waiatanui kia Aroha (in association with the Fernbank Studio/ESAW)
2001: TAB Ula Rasa: New and Selected Poems (Original Books)
1999: Ka Atu I Kopua: New Poems 1979-1999 (Original Books)
1999: Flip Side of the Ballad of John and Yoko – broadsheet, new ed. (ESAW)
1998: Shake Speer’s Faith and Other Poems (Original Books)
1998: Livin’ ina Aucklan’ (illustrated by John Pule) new ed (Original Books)
1997: Con Art: Selected Poems (Original Books)
1992: Kia Aroha: with Bill Dacker (ESAW)
1989: Livin’ ina Aucklan’ (illustrated by John Pule) (Miracle Mart Receiving/ESAW)
1987: Before and After – Poetry and Prose (Miracle Mart Receiving)
1984: Undiscovered Voyage (with Litia Alaelua) (Private)
1983: Ten Sonnets: Myths and Legends of Love (Martian Way Press)
1981: Surrogate Children (with Sandra Bell and Brian Hare - Lancaster Publishing)
1980: Flip Side of the Ballad of John and Yoko – broadsheet (Private)
Out of It – Cricket (http://outofitcricket.blogspot.com)
Pukapuka - (http://pukapukabooks.blogspot.com)
Irish Abroad – www.irishabroad.com/blog
2003: Toku Tinihanga CD, poems set to music – Waimea Studios, Christchurch (ESAW Sounds Division)
1995: Twilight City, Just Like a Bird, Potatoes, Fish and Children, Southerners Crossing: 4 songs recorded by Dunedin Irish band Blackthorn – Green-Eyeland Studio – Dunedin
1988: Nice Nazis – punk-reggae band (tape)
As an Editor
2009: Poets of Mana – Poetry Anthology (ESAW)
2004: Greatest Hits: An Anthology of Writing 1984-2004 – JAAM 21: Anthology of New and Established Writers Taken from JAAM/HeadworX/ESAW Publications (in association with HeadworX/JAAM/ESAW)
2002: Tiger Words: Paekakariki Poets at Pukapuka – Poetry Anthology (ESAW)
1998: Waiting for a Train of Thought: Whitireia Writers – Anthology (ESAW)
1998: Nine Seasons: Whitireia Writers – Anthology (ESAW)
1992: Wrapper – Anthology of New and Established Writers (ESAW)
As an Artist
2010: Completed 2 commissioned paintings
2010: Contributed a drawing/poem to the Kurt Cobain art book Blue Eyed Son, compiled by Benedict Quilter, Independent Woman Records, Wellington.
2009-2002: Contributed many art works to ESAW, JAAM, HeadworX, broadsheet and Original Books publications: including cover art, plus pieces for some of the Winter Readings anthologies and works in Kapiti Arts Trail.
2002: ‘A Helen Clark Retrospective’ at One Eye Gallery, Paekakariki.
1994: Collaboration show with Christchurch artist, Wayne Seyb – toured Dunedin, Timaru, Gore, Wellington, Paekakariki.
1991 ONE-MAN Show at Blue Angel Gallery, Auckland.
Appearances by Michael O’Leary in Other Works
‘News 20 May’, Sandra Bell, in Surrogate Children (Auckland: Lancaster Publishing, 1981).
August 6th, Ken Bolton (Adelaide: Little Esther Books, 1999).
‘Michael O’Leary’, Steve Carter, in Poetrywall: Anthology of the Poetrywall eds. Mark Pirie and Gemma Claire (aka Rowsell) (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2007).
Flesh and Blood, John Harvey (UK: Heinemann, 2004).
‘Sunday’, Richard Langston, unpublished poem.
The Treadmill Tapes by David McGill (Paekakariki: Silver Owl Press, 2007).
Black Mail Press 12 cover, edited by Mark Pirie.
‘February 8th, 2003’, Mark Pirie, in Two Poems: An Impression of the Sea (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2004).
‘The Earl of Seacliff Travels from the Octagon to Tokyo’, Jenny Powell.
‘Green Viva’, Iain Sharp, in white horse black dog: sport fifteen (Wellington: Sport, 1995).
‘The Nevertheless Incredibly Happy Poem’, Iain Sharp, in The Singing Harp (Paekakariki, ESAW, 2004).
‘Poets at Paekakariki’, Nelson Wattie.
‘Quartet’, F.W.N. Wright, in Earl of Seacliff Christmas Surprise 2009 (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2009).
Towards the Millennium: Spiritual Writings to End the Age by Brian C. Hare (Auckland: Martian Way Press, 1984).
‘Hits & misses: A Letter to Sal Brereton’, A whistled bit of bop, Ken Bolton, Vagabond Press,
‘Winter Readings at Tupelo’, Moshé Liba, in Nobody is a Prophet: Selected Poems,
cyberwit.net, India, 2010.
For You: Poems/Stories Dedicated to Michael O’Leary/ESAW
‘The Earl of Seacliff’, J.D. Bowen.
‘On ESAW’s 25th Anniversary’, Jill Chan.
‘O’Books’, Bill Dacker, in To… (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2004).
‘Bards of Paekakariki’, David Eggleton.
‘Blood on the McCahon’ and ‘The Rake’, Pamela Gordon.
‘The Final Rebirth’, Brian Hare, in Surrogate Children (Auckland: Lancaster Publishing, 1981).
‘ESAW Preservation Society (a song)’, Kinky Anon.
‘I Think He is Going to Sing’, Madeleine Marie Slavick.
‘I Wish I Was More Like a Mormon’, Ron Riddell, in How to Eat a Hotdog on the Main Street of Thames (Auckland: Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 1990).
‘Michael O’, Richard Langston.
‘The Earl of Publishers’, Moshé Liba, in My Country, the World, - and Me (India: cyberwit.net, 2009).
‘Adolf the Spider’ and ‘Watching a Friend on the “Southerner” Speed Through Seacliff Heading North’, Peter Olds, in The Mad Elephant (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2006).
‘My Bro: The Earl of Seacliff’, Tricia Pink.
‘Visiting Graves’, Mark Pirie, in London Notebook (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2005).
‘Thoughts in Remuera’, Mark Pirie, in Poems for Poets: Dedications and Elegies (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2004); and in Just Another Fantastic Anthology: Auckland in Poetry ed. Stu Bagby (Auckland: Antediluvian Press, 2008).
‘Tomorrow’, Vaughan Morgan, in Under Quiet Leaves (Te Kuiti, Vaughan Morgan, 1985).
‘Labouring’ and ‘With or without’, Mark Pirie.
‘The Man at the Sea’, L.E. Scott.
‘Don’t go past me with your nose in the air’, Hone Tuwhare, in New Zealand Listener, 1 October 1990; and in JAAM 21: “Greatest Hits”: An Anthology of Writing 1984-2004 eds. Michael O’Leary and Mark Pirie (Wellington: JAAM Publishing Collective in Association with HeadworX/ESAW, 2004).
Anthology Appearances by Michael O’Leary
50 Poems by 50 Poets: Recent New Zealand Poetry ed. Mark Pirie (Brisbane: papertiger media, 2004).
‘A Tingling Catch’: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009 ed. Mark Pirie (Wellington: HeadworX, 2010).
Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus ed. Gilbert L. Gigliotti (Washington, D.C. Entasis Press, 2010).
Blue Eyed Son: [Kurt Cobain art book] (Wellington: Independent Woman Records, 2010).
Bookmarks: Winter Readings at Bizy Bee’s ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2003).
Boomer (Dunedin: OUSA, 1991).
Ché in Verse - eds. Gavin O’Toole and Georgina Jiménez (UK: Aflame Books, 2007).
Earl of Seacliff Christmas Surprise (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2005-ongoing).
The First Wellington International Poetry Festival Anthology - eds. Mark Pirie, Ron Riddell and Saray Torres (Wellington: HeadworX, 2003).
Just Another Fantastic Anthology: Auckland in Poetry ed. Stu Bagby (Auckland: Antediluvian Press, 2008).
JAAM 21: “Greatest Hits”: An Anthology of Writing 1984-2004 eds. Michael O’Leary and Mark Pirie (Wellington: JAAM Publishing Collective in Association with HeadworX/ESAW, 2004).
Mahones: Four Poets, with Bill Dacker, Mark Pirie and Iain Sharp (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2005).
The Manuka Tree: Winter Readings 2005 ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2005).
Manukau in Poetry - eds. Bernard Gadd, Bruce Ringer and Melissa Steiner (Manukau City: Hallard Press, 2006).
Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English: Whetu Moana II - eds. Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2010).
Other Voices 2 - ed. Bernard Gadd (Auckland: Brick Row/Hallard Press, 1991).
Pacific Voices - ed. Bernard Gadd (Auckland: Macmillan, 1989).
Poets of Mana: Porirua poets (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2009).
Poetrymath: Winter Readings 2006 ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2006).
Poetrywall: Winter Readings 2007 ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2007).
Rail Poems of New Zealand Aotearoa - ed. Mark Pirie (Wellington: Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa/Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2010).
Sonnets: Wellington sonnets by prize winning entrants in the Wellington Sonnet Competition 2008 (Paekakariki: ESAW and Wellington Writers Walk Committee, New Zealand Society of Authors, Wellington Branch, 2008).
Sounds of Sonnets: with Mark Pirie (Wellington: HeadworX, 2006).
Spirit of Kapiti [Kapiti Poems 8] (Wellington: Steele Roberts, 1999).
Surrogate Children: with Brian Hare and Sandra Bell (Auckland: Lancaster Publishing, 1981).
Te Ao Mārama 3 - ed. Witi Ihimaera (Auckland: Reed, 1993).
Tiger Words: Paekakariki Poets at Pukapuka ed. Michael O’Leary (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2002).
Tupelo Hotel: Winter Readings 2004 ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2004).
Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand eds. Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (Brisbane: Interactive Publications, 2009).
Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English eds. Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (AUP: Auckland, 2003).
The White Album Readings: Winter Readings 2008 ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2008).
Poems/Articles/Reviews by O’Leary Published in Print Periodicals:
Art New Zealand, brief, broadsheet: new new zealand poetry, Craccum, Critic, Dominion Post, Dunedin Star Midweek, Echoes – Good wine, poetry and prose, English in Aotearoa, JAAM, Kapiti Observer, Metro, New Zealand Listener, North and South, Paekakariki Xpressed, Pilgrims, Poetry NZ, Printout, Rambling Jack, Samoan Observer, Saoirse, Berlin Sidestream, Snafu, Sunday Star-Times, Tango, Titirangi Poets, and Valley Micropress.
O’Leary Film/TV Appearances
Lord of the Rings, Via Satellite, Pictures: The Burton Brothers, and several other films as an extra.
Off the Rails, TV series, about New Zealand Rail presented by Marcus Lush.
O’Leary Readings/Public Performances/Displays
Michael O’Leary conducted many poetry readings and artistic happenings throughout the 1970s, including a performance piece in Dunedin dressed as Dada artist Hugo Ball (costume by Robin Swanney-McPherson), reading at Mt Crawford Prison in Wellington with John Bailey and Paremoremo Maximum Security Prison in Auckland with Hone Tuwhare.
O’Leary acted in several plays and skits during the 1970s, including Becket’s play Waiting for Godot at Dunedin’s Globe Theatre, about which O’Leary jokes: ‘It’s the only time in my life I’ve been Lucky!’ He also performed Alan Ginsberg’s Howl in Auckland’s McLauren Chapel.
O’Leary performed regularly at Globe Hotel, Auckland, in the 1980s, and in many other readings throughout the 1980s around Auckland with several poets including Bob Orr, Kim Blackburn, Iain Sharp, Susan Alpress, John Pule, Gregory O’Brien, Grant Duncan, Sandra Bell etc.
O’Leary has also been involved in many other readings and performances throughout the land in various bars/cafes/art galleries with a wide variety of other poets and artists up to the present day. David Eggleton and O’Leary did innovative street art, performance and theatre during the 1980s in Auckland and they also used to busk together, along with John Pule at the same period.
In 2003, O’Leary was invited to take part in the First Wellington International Poetry Festival organised by Ron Riddell and Saray Torres. That same year, an extract from O’Leary’s poem ‘It’s Not the Leaving of Wellington’ was used for a mural next to the Brooklyn Library bus shelter in Wellington. O’Leary read at the opening ceremony, with Mayor Kerry Prendergast also speaking.
O’Leary performed regularly alongside Mark Pirie at Winter Readings, Wellington, 2003-2008. Together the two poets hosted the readings and presented new and established New Zealand poets from around the country to Wellington audiences.
An O’Leary poem is also reproduced by the entrance of the Kapiti Coast Electric Tramway at MacKay’s Crossing between Paekakariki and Raumati as part of a Kapiti Coast District Council project.
List of Related Sources to Michael O’Leary
A Comprehensive Bibliography of Michael (John) O’Leary, 1950- as Author, Editor and Publisher, compiled by F.W. Nielsen Wright (Wellington: Cultural and Political Booklets, 2000).
‘Portrait of the artist as many people’, Gregory O’Brien, in Hauaga: The Art of John Pule, ed. Nicholas Thomas (Dunedin: University of Otago Press/Wellington: City Gallery, 2010).
A Portrait of Two Artists: Count Geoffrey Potocki de Montalk, 1903-1997, Michael O’Leary, 1950-: Bibliographies,F.W. Nielsen Wright (Wellington: Cultural and Political Booklets, 1997).
An Irish Annal of Aotearoa: A Psycle Drama, Simon O’Connor (Wellington: Original Books, 1997).
‘Bad poetry makes history’ in Capital Times, 1999.
‘Comment by Ivan Bootham’ in Poetry Notes, Vol 1, Vol 2, Winter 2010.
‘Dirty Silence: Impure Sounds in New Zealand poetry’ by Bill Manhire, from Doubtful Sounds: Essays and Interviews (Wellington, VUP, 2000).
Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop website (www.earlofseacliff.co.nz).
‘Edward Tregear’, Mark Pirie, Poetry NZ 36 (March 2008).
HeadworX Publishers website (http://headworx.eyesis.co.nz).
Hone Tuwhare: A Biography, Janet Hunt (Auckland: Godwit, 1998).
Kiwi cricket pages: a bibliography and reference guide to New Zealand cricket publications (Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire, UK: Christopher Saunders Cricket Books & Memorabilia, 2006).
The Long Forgetting, Patrick Evans (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2007).
Main Trunk Lines: New Zealand Poetry, National Library of New Zealand Exhibition, 21 July-30 October 2005. (Curated by G. O’Brien and J. Bornholdt.)
‘Maori cricket in New Zealand’ in Tingling Catch blog (http://tinglingcatch.blogspot.com)
Michael O’Leary’s Finger, Works for the Screan (i.e Screen) and Stage, Martyn Sanderson, Rachel Donaldson, Michael O’Leary and class mates (Wellington: Original Books).
‘Michael O’Leary’s Cricket Novel to be Reprinted’ in Tingling Catch blog (http://tinglingcatch.blogspot.com)
New Zealand Book Council Author Profile on Michael O’Leary (http:/www.
New Zealand Law & Literature/Law & Visual Media Database (http://www.victoria.ac.nz
Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English ed. Terry Sturm (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1998).
Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature eds. Nelson Wattie and Roger Robinson (Auckland: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1998).
Peregrinations of a ‘Priest’: An Autobiography of a ‘Nobody’, Brian Hare (Paekakariki: ESAW: 2006).
Poetrywall: Anthology of the Poetrywall eds. Gemma Claire (aka Rowsell) and Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2007).
Scrapbook of the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop and Michael O’Leary (Paekakariki: ESAW, 1998).
Steal Away Boy: Selected Poems of David Mitchell eds. Martin Edmond and Nigel Roberts (Auckland: AUP, 2010).
Taumarunui: Unlevel Crossings of the Literary Kind, text and illustrations by Michael O’Leary; with additional material by Iain Sharp ... [et al.] (Wellington: Original Books, 2002).
The Earl is in…: 25 Years of Seacliff: A to Z ed. Mark Pirie (Paekakariki: ESAW, 2009).
Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia – entry on Michael O’Leary
‘Winter Readings at Tupelo’, Moshé Liba, in My Country, the World, - and Me (India: cyberwit.net, 2009).
Yesterman Among Tui-Cymbalists: Poems, Notes and Essays, F.W. Nielsen Wright (Wellington: Cultural and Political Booklets, 2009).
Online Publications by Michael O’Leary
‘Baxter Between the Wickets’ in Books in the Trees blog (http://booksinthetrees.blogspot.com)
Featured in Blackmail Press 6 ed. Doug Poole (http://nzpoetsonline.homestead.com
Featured in ESAW Christmas Surprise e-Books (www.earlofseacliff.co.nz)
Featured poems in Manukau in Poetry online anthology (http://www.manukau-libraries.govt.nz/poetry/)
‘Hone Tuwhare: A Personal Memoir’ in Ka Mate Ka Ora on-line journal, ed. Robert Sullivan, Issue No. 6, September 2008 (http://www.nzepc.auckland.
‘Michael O’Leary’s Maori Cricket Poem’ in Tingling Catch blog (http://tinglingcatch.blogspot.com)
‘Out Of It’ novel in Out of It – Cricket blog (http://outofitcricket.blogspot.com)
Poems on nzepc (New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre) online poetry archive (http://www.nzepc.auckland.ac.nz)
Poems in Kindle e-Book version of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand eds. Mark Pirie and Tim Jones (Brisbane: Interactive Publications, 2009) (http://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-ebook/)
Sample poems on HeadworX website (http://headworx.eyesis.co.nz)
‘Sonnet for Victor O’Leary’ in broadsheet: new new zealand poetry on-line PDF journal, ed. Mark Pirie, Issue No. 1, May 2008 (http://headworx.eyesis.co.nz)
Two rail poems in broadsheet: new new zealand poetry on-line PDF journal, ed. Mark Pirie, Issue No. 5, May 2010 (http://headworx.eyesis.co.nz)
O’Leary translated into Māori the poem Volta by English poet Richard Berengarten in 2010 for the on-line journal ‘International Literary Quarterly’ (http://interlitq.org/issue9/volta/maori/bio.php)