Recently, Michael O’Leary appeared in Jacket2, USA, in the series of commentaries written by Vaughan Rapatahana on the small press poetry and performing scene in New Zealand.

Michael was interviewed for the article on Māori male poets:

Ngā Kaituhi Whiti Tāne Māori — Māori male poets‘ by Vaughan Rapatahana, in Jacket2 Commentaries, USA, 2015

Vaughan Rapatahana’s articles also covered the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa that Michael O’Leary co-founded with Dr Niel Wright.

“One such example of sterling input is the invaluable Poetry Archive of New Zealand. As Mark Pirie points out to us, ‘I co-organise the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa  (with Dr Michael O’Leary and Dr Niel Wright, the founders) collecting poets back to the nineteenth century. There are more good poets than people realize reading mainstream historical anthologies of New Zealand poetry. I have realized this fairly recently after wasted years of looking at and learning from selective, academic anthologies ever since I was a student. Since 2010, I have edited the quarterly Poetry Archive newsletter Poetry Notes. This has featured many forgotten historical New Zealand poets and presented highly original research by myself, Rowan Gibbs, Niel Wright, and Michael O’Leary. The National Library of New Zealand online research tools like Papers Past have been vital to this rediscovery of early New Zealand poetry too. Poets like Robert J Pope, Ivy Gibbs, and A. Stanley Sherratt have had their work republished.’ It needs to be made clear that these three guys receive no emolument for their earnest endeavours and do rely on donations of both funds and poetry texts to proliferate their resource, ‘so very good historical and contemporary poets don’t get missed.’ Stalwarts all, indeed.”

Article: Slam, slam … & thank you Mams, Vaughan Rapatahana, in Jacket2 Commentaries, USA, 2015 (


At this year’s Winter Readings in Paekakariki, “Poetry Gees”, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop published an anthology of the six readers (with photography by John Girdlestone), and reinstated its poetry prize.
Poetry Gees was a tribute to the pop group Bee Gees and an event marking the return of a popular poetry reading series in the Wellington region organised by HeadworX Publishers and ESAW 2003-2008.
The Earl of Seacliff Poetry Prize began in 2007, when the Earl, Michael O’Leary, awarded a prize to an emerging artist’s poem on the Poetrywall at that year’s Winter Readings taking place at the City Gallery. Evelyn Conlon, a young poet, won the prize.
Further awards were given to collections published by the Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop: Will Leadbeater 2008, Jill Chan 2009, Robin Fry 2010 and Barry Southam in 2011.
When ESAW went into hiatus, apart from a few publications in recent years, the prize also went into hiatus.
This year saw the reinstatement of the award at Winter Readings, with the Otago-based writer Jeanne Bernhardt being awarded the prize.
Jeanne read a mixture of new and old poems and was surprised and pleased to receive the award – kept secret – at the end of the event.
Other readers were Rob Hack (also MC), MaryJane Thomson reading from Lonely Earth (HeadworX), HeadworX editor Mark Pirie, Basim Furat (currently visiting New Zealand from Sudan), Siberian-born Polina Kouzminova, and ESAW publisher Michael O’Leary.
Poet and Poetry Archive co-founder Niel Wright attending the event was also acknowledged through Mark Pirie’s reading of his Bee Gees poem ‘Staying Alive II’.
(From Beattie’s Book Blog, 20 July 2016)

Winter readings 2016

Mark Pirie, Basim Furat and Michael O’Leary outside St Peter’s Hall, Paekakariki

About Jeanne Bernhardt

Jeanne Bernhardt is a former recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary from Creative NZ in the late 1990s, and the author of 7 books, including Wood and Fast down Turk from Kilmog Press, Dunedin, and Baby is this Wonderland? and The Snow Poems/your self of lost ground from HeadworX. She was included in the ESAW mini series of poetry booklets. Painter of mountains, drawer of leaves and comix, felt maker and wood carver, likes to roam, solitude and being in nature.

Poem by Jeanne:

How is the Writer?
(words for my father)

Eleven years since you died.
I stare at things
Imagine they are broken
The centre of old rocks
Live alone

Divorce is a strange concept
A little death

Sometimes I imagine you turn up at my door,
I do not immediately invite you in,
We pause there

Assess the sky, the situation
Your car still running
It is a fleeting visit
You were in the neighbourhood, so…

Your watch and glasses still working,
Ah, I say
For time and shock

All the time in the world
But no space
I have eaten my heart
Like an adult

How are your brothers and sisters? you ask
How is the writer this morning?

Calling out through the years
And sunlight
Shadows of a gone tree

Try to be happy.


Jeanne Bernhardt

Title: DIE BIBEL being the authoritative history of Dr Michael John O’Leary, Earl of Seacliff

Author: Michael O’Leary

Publisher: Steele Roberts

Launch details: Sunday, 24th July 2016, 3pm at Paekakariki Railway Station – special launch price $30 per copy


In 1998 the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature described Michael O’Leary, the Earl of Seacliff, as a publisher, poet, novelist, performer and bookshop proprietor who has made a colourful contribution to the literary scene: “Under his Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop imprint he has published his own prolific output as well as various other writers, both alternative and main stream.”

The Companion noted that Michael’s poetry and novels explore his heritage, “the poetry more conventionally, the prose in an alternative vein which owes something to Joyce and Beckett.”

Since that time Michael has completed masters and doctoral studies in New Zealand publishing and literature at Victoria University, and has continued to write, publish and sell books from his seaside earldom at Paekakariki.

Throughout Die Bibel he often uses his poems to express his thoughts and feelings, and to pay tribute to extraordinary people and events in his life. One of many highlights is Psalm 34, ‘It’s not the leaving of Wellington’, an odyssey around the capital city.

Die Bibel is the lively, candid journey of a man who has lived a singular life in Aotearoa New Zealand and has made an indelible contribution to its literature.

Die Bibel cover.jpg

Back cover author photo (at Paekakariki Railway Station): Lindsay Rabbitt

Front cover: Nigel Brown’s portrait of the Earl of Seacliff

In the spirit of the Beatles who put out a Christmas record for their fans, Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, the Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa (PANZA) and HeadworX offer to you, our friends and clients, this small token for your enjoyment.

Poems on the railway, Auckland, cricket, netball, excerpts from Niel Wright’s Poetic Fish Hooks, and a prose piece by B. E. Turner from the recently published ESAW anthology Of Paekakariki edited by Sylvia Bagnall.

Contributors: Michael O’Leary, B. E. Turner, F. W. Nielsen Wright, and Mark Pirie.

Download and view the free pdf of this book (file size 527KB):


ESAW Christmas Surprise 2015 edited by Mark Pirie

November sees the publication of Michael O’Leary’s new CD Livin’ ina Aucklan’, following on from Fences Fall, the 2011 CD of Michael’s lyrics set to music by local Kapiti Coast musicians.


Livin’ ina Aucklan’: songs of the city by Earl of Seacliff’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Title: Livin’ ina Aucklan’

Artist: Earl of Seacliff’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Michael O’Leary et al]

Price: $20.00

Format: CD

Publication: November 2015

Publisher: ESAW Sounds Division

Distributor: PowerTool Records, Auckland


About the CD

The CD includes Michael O’Leary’s Auckland poems of the city, set to music by a number of musicians/collaborators: Brian Romeril, Gilbert Haisman, Sean O’Leary, Al Whitham, Hilda Prasad, and others.

Michael’s O’Leary’s new CD Livin’ ina Aucklan’ in conjunction with a number of contributing artists/musicians is to be launched in Auckland and Paekakariki.

See below for details for these events:

In Paekakariki, Friday 13 November 2015:


Paekakariki celebration of Livin’ ina Aucklan’

and up in Aucklan’, Friday 27 November 2015:


Auckland launch for Livin’ in Aucklan’

On Saturday, 24 October 2015, Michael O’Leary’s new book Main Trunk Lines: Collected Railway Poems was launched in tandem with David McGill’s The Death Ray Debacle.

The launch was held at the Paekakariki Station Museum.

A report appears on Beattie’s Book Blog:


The Paekakariki Arts Walk was opened on Sunday 30 August 2015.

Michael O’Leary appeared at the opening and blessing for the project. Michael, a significant local artist, is included in the walkway with his poem ‘Track Gang & Shunters at Paekakariki’ .


Michael’s poem included in the Paekakariki Arts Walk

Here’s a link to the website about the project:


Micheal O’Leary speaking at the opening of the Paekakariki Arts Walk, 30 August 2015

Michael O’Leary’s collected railway poems Main Trunk Lines has been released through HeadworX Publishers in Wellington. Copies of the new paperback edition can be ordered direct from HeadworX, email: See information and details on the book below:

New Book Information from HeadworX

Title: Main Trunk Lines: Collected Railway Poems
Author: Michael O’Leary
Editor: Mark Pirie
Release: September 2015
Price: $25.00
ISBN: 978-0-473-32917-4
Extent:  80 pages
Category: NZ Fiction
Format: paperback
Publisher: HeadworX

About the Book

Michael O’Leary’s new book is the first to collect his entire oeuvre of New Zealand railway poems.

Spanning over 30 years of his writing, it runs the length of the railway in Aotearoa and depicts many of the country’s railway stations and towns.

The central poem of the book is O’Leary’s sequence Station to Station, a cognac dedicated to the rock artist David Bowie.

Mark Pirie writes in the foreword: “Michael’s poems take the reader on their own rail journey, stopping from station to station and recording the life and times of the people and places around them. But the train can also be a metaphor for life, the great journey we are all part of which encompasses both love and death. There’s no stopping for long with Michael, as the next train arrives and the next journey awaits.”

O’Leary’s well-known love of all things rail led him to become a trustee for the Paekakariki Station Museum after he settled on the Kapiti Coast in the 1990s. He currently operates Kakariki Bookshop next to the Paekakariki Station Museum.

‘I don’t know of any living New Zealand writer who is a bigger railway enthusiast.’ – Iain Sharp, Sunday Star-Times

About the Editor

Mark Pirie is a New Zealand poet, editor, writer and publisher. Website:


Cover photo by W W Stewart, A P Godber collection, Turnbull Library

Michael O’Leary has published a booklet edition of Dr Tony Taylor’s 1964 New Zealand conversations with Beatle John Lennon. See below for book details. Copies can be ordered from Michael direct:

New book information

Title: Tony Taylor in Conversation with John Lennon

Authors: Tony Taylor with Michael O’Leary [Lennon poem tribute]

ISBN  978-1-86942-153-3

Price: $25.00

Extent: 40 pages

Format: 148mmx210mm

Publication: February 2015

Publisher: Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop

About the Book

Dr A.J.W. (Tony) Taylor is an Emeritus Professor of Pyschology at Victoria University of Wellington. He was the first professor of clinical psychology in the British Commonwealth, and is the author of over 300 publications, including his memoir Cockney Kid: the Making of an Unconventional Psychologist (Silver Owl Press, 2006). He became interested in the mass hysteria that The Beatles generated, and used the topic in 1964 as a class-exercise to get some facts when the ‘fab-four’ performed in Wellington during the eight-day tour of New Zealand.

Two interviews with Lennon he did in 1964 are in the book.

Curiosity around the 50th anniversary of the visit led him recently to search the journals for results of comparable studies that other psychologists might have made. His foray drew a blank, despite the huge social upheaval The Beatles had caused wherever they went. Disappointment encouraged him to restate the need for others to take up the study of mass-hysteria. Apart from the intrinsic value of the topic in today’s manipulative world, he is still keen to validate his results with those that other researchers might obtain with fans of contemporary musical groups.

Dr Michael O’Leary is a poet, artist and novelist, who, in his 2014 autobiography Die Bibel (ESAW), discussed the effect that The Beatles and particularly John Lennon had on his own decision to become an artist in whatever form that took in his life. After gaining his PhD in literature in 2011 he worked with a number of musicians to transform his poems into songs, thus bringing his writing and artistic career full circle. O’Leary’s poem tribute written after the death of Lennon concludes the book.


The Beatles at Wellington Airport during their New Zealand tour. Hill, Morris James, 1929-2002: Negatives of Wellington, and national events and personalities. Ref: 1/4-071857-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.