Colourful poet dies

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An inspirational poet who won a Queenstown poetry competition only three months ago has died, aged 77.

Dale Grant Stephens, who spent his last months at Queenstown’s Abbeyfield retirement village, made and lost two fortunes and twice cheated death before publishing his best-selling collection of poetry, prose and photography, Talk

He also released two CDs of country ballads set to music by former Crowded House and Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner.

Only in October he won a slam poetry competition at Sherwood and qualified for a national competition.

As a fifth-generation Kiwi, whose New Zealand ancestors hailed from Otago, he was inspired by the stories of original NZers, his daughter Amber Stephens says.

“His most famous ballad, Mountain Roseabout Glenorchy and the local area, and he also did some incredible poetry and ballads about the Mackenzies of Walter Peak.”

Amber says her dad had been on the verge of self-publishing about 15 books, including his memoirs and a reprint of Heart Talk.

She’s created a website, www.dalegrantstephens.com, and is appealing for crowdfunding to publish them and “fulfil his life’s work and dream”.

“A lot of dad’s work was about inspiring people – he was such a father figure to so many people.”

Local Abbeyfield manager Ali Beaumont says Stephens was “an incredibly creative man, very stylish and charming”.

A remembrance celebration for him was held at a homestead at Fairlight, northern Southland, which he bought in 2007, then renovated.

scoop@scene.co.nz