Gregory O'Brien, born in Matamata, is a Wellington-based poet, essayist, painter and art curator. He has edited numerous anthologies and art catalogues, and written extensively about New Zealand culture.
He has published two books introducing the country's visual arts to a younger generation, Welcome to the South Seas (AUP, 2004) and Back and Beyond (AUP, 2008). His book of essays on New Zealand arts and letters, After Bathing at Baxter's, appeared in 2002 and was followed by a book-length essay about the antipodes and Southern France, News of the Swimmer Reaches Shore (Carcanet/VUP, 2007). This came out of the period he spent in Menton when his wife, the poet Jenny Bornholdt, was Katherine Mansfield Fellow. O'Brien was a guest at the Poetry International Festival, Rotterdam, in 2005 and his poems were the basis for a range of clothes from Auckland-based fashion designer Doris Du Pont the following year. In 2011 he was one of nine artists invited on an expedition to the remote Kermadec isalands in the south Pacific.
His poetry collections include Winter I Was (VUP, 1999) and afternoon of an evening train (VUP, 2005), and many pamphlets published in hand-press editions by his brother, Brendan O'Brien. He has edited several poetry anthologies, includingMy Heart Goes Swimming – New Zealand love poems, with Jenny Bornholdt (Godwit, 1996) and with Louise St John, Big Weather – poems of Wellington (Mallinson Rendel, enlarged edn 2009).