ICONIC FIGURE: James K Baxter's poetry and music will be shared.PHOTO/FILE
The 40th anniversary of James K Baxter's death on October 22 is set to be observed throughout Labour Day Weekend in an inaugural celebration of the poet's life and works organised by the Whanganui Literary Festival Trust.
And while the trust's chairwoman, Joan Rosier-Jones, says it is still in the process of being organised, the event will definitely involve a bus trip to Jerusalem, mirroring the one-day pilgrimage 43 Baxter enthusiasts made to the Whanganui River Rd settlement during the Whanganui Literary Festival last year.
"We will ask permission to see his grave and then sit in the church there and share Baxter stories," she explains.
That will take place on Sunday, October 21.
On Saturday, meanwhile, the trust is planning a seminar, with readings of Baxter's poetry and music.
And given 2012 marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and New Zealand, Ms Rosier-Jones said it was hoped some of those poems would be translated and read in Japanese.
"We're still seeing how it will pan out, but it will be celebrated in many ways."
Ms Rosier-Jones said Baxter was an iconic figure, who still drew people to Jerusalem because of his association with the village.
Like the Whanganui Literary Festival, it was hoped the James K Baxter Weekend celebrations would become a regular event, she said.
James Keir Baxter
Acknowledged as one of New Zealand's most accomplished poets, Baxter (June 29, 1926 - October 22, 1972) had devoted the last years of his life to social work among alcoholics and drug addicts. He died in Auckland, aged 46, soon after leaving the commune he had founded several years earlier at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River.
- Source: Ministry for Culture and Heritage.