Geoff Cochrane is a poet and fiction writer. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies, and he has published several volumes of poetry. His writing has been described as, ‘spare in form and precise in language’. He published a novella, Quest Clinic in 1992, and his first novel, Tin Nimbus (1995), describes an alcoholic’s quest for sobriety and eventual escape from institutions that may provide it. Cochrane was the recipient of a 2014 Laureate Award.
FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE
Cochrane, Geoff (1951– ), is a poet and fiction writer. He was born in Wellington, where he has lived almost all his life. One of a large Catholic family, he was educated at St Patrick’s College.
His poetry first appeared in small collections from private presses: Images of Midnight City (1976), Solstice (1979, with Victoria Broome and Lindsay Rabbitt), The Sea the Landsman Knows (1980), Taming the Smoke (1983) and Kandinsky’s Mirror (1989). Aztec Noon (1992) is a collection of twenty-seven new poems plus a selection from previous volumes, published by Victoria University Press. His poems have also appeared in Sport and Printout, and in several anthologies. Cochrane’s poetry could be described as ‘pain distilled’; spare in form and precise in language, it fixes an often melancholy mood in complex shifts of thought and imagery, usually mediated through a physical setting.
Cochrane has recently published fiction. A novella, ‘Quest Clinic’ (Sport 9, 1992), and his first novel, Tin Nimbus (1995), both describe, in precise and polished language, an alcoholic’s quest for sobriety and eventual escape from institutions that may provide it. Blood (1997) retrospectively recaptures Wellington in the mid-1970s. The fiction’s intensity and evocativeness reflect Cochrane’s experience as a poet.
Cochrane's collection of poetry Vanilla Wine was published by Victoria University Press in 2003. His poem 'Vanilla Wine' was named as one of the Best New Zealand Poems 2003.
Hypnic Jerks (Victoria University Press) a collection of poetry, was published in 2005. He has also contributed 'Three Stories' to The Best of New Zealand Fiction: Volume Three (Vintage, 2006).
Cochrane had a poem included in Shards of Silver (Steele Roberts, 2006), a book investigating the interplay between photography and poetry.
84-484 (VUP, 2007) is a collection of poetry which takes its name from Geoff Cochrane's grandparents' phone number in the 1950s. In his review of 84-484 for the Sunday Star Times (19 August, 2007), Iain Sharpe called it '…a glorious mess of a book, packed with reminiscences of a Catholic upbringing, anecdotes about derelict acquaintances, arcana about aircraft, quotes from a lifetime’s reading and movie-going, shrewd observations, skew-whiff axioms.'
David Eggleton of the Dominion post says of 84-484, 'it becomes apparent that Cochrane is not merely a frugal poet, thriftily recycling anecdotal skerricks and wisps of philosophical thoughts and self-destructive needs into highly crafted and sophisticated works of art, but also a darkly humorous memorialist: a keeper of the keys for marginal Wellington.'
Pocket Edition was published by Victoria University Press in 2009. Says Paula Green of the New Zealand Herald: "Cochrane's mix of dark, witty, concentrated lines are well worth storing in a jacket pocket for the spare little moments that beg for a poem".
Cochrane's most recent work is The Worm in the Tequila, published by Victoria University Press in 2010. His new book is a bracing and invigorating distillation of his distinctive talent. ‘Geoff Cochrane’s is a whole world, rendered in lines at once compressed and open, mysterious and approachable.’ —Damien Wilkins
The Bengal Engine's Mango Afterglow (Victoria University Press), a collection of poems, was published in 2012. Astonished Dice (Victoria University Press) was published in 2014 and collects his two slim volumes of short stories, originally published in limited editions, the early novella ‘Quest Clinic’, and more recent stories.
Cochrane was the recipient of a 2014 Laureate Award, presented as part of the 2014 Westpac New Zealand Arts Awards.