Jan FitzGerald (b.1950)

Jan's development as a poet was rapid and natural. Already at Tauranga Girls ' College her poetry was being noticed and admired by no less than James K. Baxter and Hone Tuwhare. She won all the literary prizes, saw early publication in the local press, and enjoyed the company of fellow-poets R.F.(Frank) Brown and Fred Parmee. At Hamilton Teacher's College she continued to write, spent many weekends up in Auckland with Hone Tuwhare and once read alongside Baxter himself when he sought her out on the Waikato Campus. Appearing frequently (as Jan Coad) in the main literary journals of the time, in Landfall and in The Listener. Jan's first collection, "Strange Owls", was published by Outrigger Press in 1978.

Being swept away by her Art Tutor wasn't exactly in the plan but these were the 70s and Jan was hugely attracted to the world of Real Art opened to her by the work, the person and the exciting circle of John Bevan Ford. This relationship entailed five solid years of drawing and painting, including the discipline of marae restoration. When it ended, Jan returned to Tauranga and immediately fell into a life and a lifestyle that effectively cut her off from her art and her poetry for eleven long years.

In 1991 she remarried. Roy FitzGerald was a darling man but, sadly, entirely non-artistic. It wasn't till Roy died in 2002 that Jan felt free at last to take up where she'd left off something like 25 years earlier. And it all began to come flooding back, the art, the poetry, the passion. Then, in 2004, she met a fellow poet she'd always admired, one Leonard Lambert and they fell in love. In 2007 they moved to Napier together and married in 2013.

Today, "Flying Against The Arrow" (Wolfdale Publishing), "On a Day Like This" (Steele Roberts) and "Wayfinder" (Steele Roberts) are out there, along with Jan's poems appearing in most of NZ's and some of the world's finest literary journals, including The London Magazine. She has also achieved acclaim with her short stories, although she considers herself a poet by birth and an artist by income.