31 Dec 2009

Death of poet J. C. Sturm

10:41 pm on 31 December 2009

Poet J. C. Sturm, who was once married to James K. Baxter, has died in Wellington.

One of New Zealand's first published Maori women writers, died on Wednesday. She was 82.

Sturm was one of New Zealand's first published Maori women writers and is acknowledged as paving the way for later writers such as Patricia Grace and Keri Hulme.

Her stories were considered succinct and lucid, avoiding specific reference to Maori, but depicting a society that fostered inequality and conveying a strong sense of alienation.

She said in an interview in 2006 that artists are misfits in society.

"They choose to stand on the fringe. They like to be a distance from their raw material, which is the society that they live in."

In 1948, Sturm married Baxter, whom she had met at university. They had two children but their marriage broke up in 1968.

When Baxter died, Sturm became the trustee and executor of his literary estate.

Apart from her literary work, Sturm was known for her work with the Maori Women's Welfare League and the Maori Education Foundation.