John Adams

'What takes this collection beyond the post-modern gymnasium is its ability to affect you. His experimentation with form depends upon the heart as much as it does the intellect.'
– judges' report, 2012 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry


After an argument with his wife, Verity, Jason Button threw a stapler which struck her on the face. Is he guilty of violent assault? Or was it just a matter of bad luck?

Briefcase, the first book of poetry by Judge and poet John Adams, is a mélange of poems – in traditional and experimental forms – and other texts: affidavits, police reports, a sudoku puzzle, court transcripts, a menu, wills and commentaries.

A disordered novella in legal documents, brutal and amusing by turns, Briefcase superbly explores the role of language as a vessel for truth and an implement of justice.


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District Court and Family Court judge at Auckland by day, John Adams also has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and is a poet by night. He has been a long-time consulting editor of legal texts – such as the Butterworths Family Law series. The first draft of Briefcase was written during his Masters year in 2009.


Winner, 2012 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First book of Poetry.

October 2011, 230 x 165 mm, 104 pages
Paperback, ISBN 9781869404918, $24.99