The poems of James K Baxter will be celebrated at a Whanganui breakfast on August 24.

Breakfast With Baxter at the Grand Hotel will offer readings of the poet's work by Annette Main, Rere Sutherland, Jenny Duncan, Donald Trott, Paul Brooks and Kerry Girdwood.

The event has been arranged to coincide with Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day and will help raise funds for a life-sized bronze sculpture of Baxter to be situated outside Paige's Book Gallery.

"Neville at the Grand will be providing a delicious buffet breakfast and local sponsors have donated some fantastic prizes for an auction to follow the breakfast," says Lesley Stead.


Stead is chairwoman of the Guyton Group Trust, a registered charity established to raise funds for the statue to be made by sculptor Joan Morrell.

Morrell knew Baxter and her likeness will be based on the way he looked when she last spoke with him under the veranda of the Paige's building on the corner of Guyton and Wicksteed streets.

"It is very appropriate that Joan, who knew him and was his friend, will be the one to create his likeness," says trust member Elise Goodge.

Before he died in 1972, Baxter agreed to sit for Morrell and she made a bronze bust from the sitting.

A copy of the bust sits on the counter at Paige's and the Guyton Group has plans to auction it to help raise more funds for the statue.

The trust is aiming to raise $100,000 and Stead says she is happy to report they are now at the halfway mark.

"We were contacted by someone who saw a notice about the breakfast online," says Stead.

"He was invited but said he lives in Sydney but he donated $2000 which has taken us up to $50,000," says Stead.


The Breakfast with Baxter guest readers are not revealing which poems they have selected although Annette Main was happy to offer a hint.

"I may present a tough exterior but I am really a romantic at heart and my choice is a love poem," she said.

Prizes to be auctioned are a trailer load of firewood, a gourmet dinner for six provided by JY Catering, a Sheaffer pen provided by Inkt, two tickets for a cruise on the paddle steamer Waimarie, an overnight stay at The Flying Fox in the James K Baxter cottage, art from the Red Door Gallery and books from Victoria University Press and Auckland University Press.

Tickets are limited to 90 and can be purchased from Paige's Book Gallery at 60 Guyton St.