Cilla McQueen

Priscilla Muriel McQueen MNZM (born 22 January 1949 in Birmingham, England) is a poet and three-time winner of the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry.[1][2]

Cilla McQueen

McQueen in 2020
McQueen in 2020
BornPriscilla Muriel McQueen
(1949-01-22) 22 January 1949 (age 72)
Birmingham, England
Ralph Hotere
(m. 1974⁠–⁠1986)

Early years and educationEdit

McQueen's family moved to New Zealand when she was four. She was educated at Columba College in Dunedin and University of Otago (Master's with first-class Honours in 1971).[3] Awarded honorary Doctorate in Literature by University of Otago in 2008.[4]


A poet and artist, she has published many collections, including two sound recordings and two selected works, of her poetry. In 2009[5] she was named New Zealand Poet Laureate. She also received the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement (Poetry) in 2010.[6] Other awards include: NZ Book Award for Poetry 1983, 1989 and 1991; Robert Burns Fellowship at Otago University 1985 & 1986; Fulbright Visiting Writer's Fellowship 1985; Inaugural Australia-New Zealand Writer's Exchange Fellowship 1987; Goethe Institute Scholarship to Berlin 1988; NZ Queen Elizabeth Arts Council Scholarship in Letters 1992. Her most recent works are In a Slant Light, a poet's memoir (2016, Otago University Press), Poeta: Selected and New Poems (2018, Otago University Press), and a chapbook Qualia that is bundled with five other chapbooks by New Zealand poets in Bundle 1 (Maungatua Press 2020).

In 1999 McQueen was awarded the Southland Art Foundation Artist in Residence award, which allowed her to develop both poetry and painting simultaneously. Recent exhibitions of her art work include "Picture Poem", works by Cilla McQueen and Joanna Paul, at the Hocken Library, Dunedin, 2015 and an exhibition of intuitive musical scores, "What Happens", at the Brett McDowell Gallery, Dunedin, 2015.

Cilla McQueen's poems include themes of homeland and loss, indigeneity, colonisation and displacement. She writes as a descendant of the colonised on St Kilda in the Hebrides. Her writing also reflects her engagement with the history and present reality of the Maori people of Murihiku.

In the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours, McQueen was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services as a poet.[7]

Personal lifeEdit

McQueen was married to New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere from 1973 until the 1990s, and together they set up a studio and living space at Careys Bay, near Port Chalmers. She currently lives in Bluff, at the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island.[citation needed]


McQueen's work includes a variety of poetry books and poems over the past twenty-five years, including these volumes:[8][9]

Plaque dedicated to Cilla McQueen in Dunedin, on the Writers' Walk on the Octagon
  • 1982: Homing In, John McIndoe
  • 1984: Anti Gravity, McIndoe
  • 1985: Buick Electra
  • 1986: Wild Sweets, McIndoe
  • 1988: Benzina, John McIndoe
  • 1989: Otherwise, recording on cassette, featuring music by Alistair MacDougall
  • 1990: Berlin Diary, John McIndoe
  • 1993: Crik'ey: New and Selected Poems, 1978-1994, McIndoe Publishers
  • 2000: Markings: Poems and Drawings, Otago University Press
  • 2001: Axis: Poems and Drawings, Otago University Press
  • 2002: Soundings: Poems and Drawings, Otago University Press
  • 2005: Fire-penny, Otago University Press
  • 2006: A Wind Harp (compact disc)
  • 2010: The Radio Room, Otago University Press
  • 2014: Edwin's Egg and Other Poetic Novellas, Otago University Press
  • 2014: An Island, letterpress edition, Mirrorcity Press
  • 2016: In a Slant Light: A Poet's Memoir, Otago University Press
  • 2018: Poeta: Selected and New Poems, Otago University Press
  • 2020: Qualia, one of six chapbooks in Bundle 1, Maungatua Press


  1. ^ New Zealand Poetry - Biography - Cilla McQueen
  2. ^ Cilla McQueen, A Wind Harp, Otago University Press, New Zealand
  3. ^ McQUEEN, Cilla
  4. ^ University of Otago 2008 Annual Report
  5. ^ "The New Zealand Poet Laureate blog: Cilla McQueen, New Zealand Poet Laureate 2009-2011". Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  6. ^ "Previous winners". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved October 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2020". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 1 June 2020. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  8. ^ National Library, Cilla McQueen, Books
  9. ^ Cilla McQueen - NZ Literature File - LEARN - The University Of Auckland Library Archived March 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit

Cultural offices
Preceded by
New Zealand Poet Laureate
Succeeded by