The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems 2016



The winner of the 2016 Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, run by International Writers’ Workshop NZ Inc (IWW), has been announced with the $1000 prize awarded to Michael Giacon of Auckland for his sequence, Argento in no man land.

Giacon was born and raised in Ponsonby. He is from a large Pakeha-Italian-Samoan family, and has worked at tertiary level in English language teaching for quite some time. In 2016 he graduated with an AUT Masters in Creative Writing, producing a volume of poetry, Beyond Retrieve, which was all about a life of writing. Argento in no man land began as part of his Masters. A series of IWW poetry workshops helped him select and shape his winning sequence of 13 poems telling of spring-to-spring romance, love, lust, break-up, some sadness, hope, for Argento Q in the gay milieu.

This year’s judge, Gus Simonovic, said of the winning sequence: “This seduces on the first read with its feel of ‘ease’. You know when you read one of those poems that have just ‘landed’ as they are; the ones that look and sound as if they come directly from that eternal creative source; and where the poet is just the medium between the source and the reader. The structure of the poem is ‘predictable’, but the content itself is everything but. Its natural flow and the richness of the emotional landscape makes it readable and re-readable with endless incarnations of poetic surprise(s).”

The Emerging Poet Award, presented to an IWW member of at least three years standing who has not had poetry published previously, is Caroline Carlyle for her sequence The Chongololo Therapy Sessions. A chongololo is a giant African millipede and the seven poem sequence relates to her childhood growing up in Zimbabwe.

About the Prize

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems has been made possible by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust. It was a specific request of the late Jocelyn Grattan that her mother be recognised through an annual competition in recognition of her love for poetry and that the competition be for a sequence or cycle of poems with no limit on the length of the poems. It is one of two poetry competitions funded by the Trust, the other being the prestigious Kathleen Grattan Award run by the publishers of Landfall magazine.

This is the 8th year the prize has been contested. Previous winners are:

2009: Alice Hooton for America.

2010: Janet Charman for Mother won’t come to us, and Rosetta Allan for Capricious Memory.

2011: Jillian Sullivan for how to live it

2012: James Norcliffe for What do you call your male parent?

2013: Belinda Diepenheim for Bittercress and Flax.

2014: Julie Ryan for On Visiting Old Ladies.

2015: Maris O’Rourke for Motherings

Summer School for Young Christchurch Writers

Workshops Booking Fast

Be in quick to get your top picks of workshops. Some are almost full!

As they become full they will be deleted from the booking form, and you will be assigned the alternative. So don’t miss out on your top picks ( although we think all of the workshops will be fabulous!)

If you miss out on a workshop that you really really wanted to do then let us know and we will do our best to make another opportunity for this to happen for you in 2017.

Visit here for info



Love the sound of this workshop ‘to bring us closer to the heart of what we are trying to say’

heraHera Lindsay Bird

Having Our Imagist Cake and Eating It, Too

“You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything.”
~Richard Hugo, Triggering Town

For me, the central question/task of poetry is how to make something that feels alive on the page. How do we get to the heart of what we are trying to say, without being overly didactic or too shy? How do we to approach what we are unable to approach, when we are stuck and overwhelmed, staring at a blank page? Good poetry should guide itself, not be dragged kicking and screaming towards a predestined conclusion. Good poetry allows the poem permission to steer itself. But how, practically, can we achieve this? And how can we take linguistic and formal risks while staying emotionally honest. In other words, how can we have our imagist cake and eat it too?

This workshop is a practical guide to generating new ideas & experimenting with text, but it’s also about how we integrate emotional honesty into our writing practice, and how we can adapt formal exercises, (which are so often sterile and cerebral) to bring us closer to the heart of what we are trying to say.

Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet from Wellington. Her debut collection Hera Lindsay Bird was published by Victoria University Press in 2016, and has gone on to be reprinted several times since. She has published work in the Toast, The Hairpin, The Listener and The Spinoff, and her book has been featured in The Guardian, Vice, and The Sunday Star Times. She believes in emotional honesty, excessive similes, and the occasional dick joke.


The 2017 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat



The 2017 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat with Helen Lehndorf, Hera Lindsay Bird, Jordan Hartt, Nalini Singh, Queenie Rikihana-Hyland, and Vivienne Plumb

For the programme see here

Immerse yourself in writing and conversation this summer. There’s something for everyone–whether you’re new to writing, an established writer, or somewhere in-between.

Dates: 3-5 March 2017
Location: El Rancho, Kāpiti Coast, New Zealand
Registration:  Register securely online or contact with any and all questions or for additional information.
Join us for the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat and renew and recharge your writing and your life. The Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat is an immersive, two-day gathering for writers, happening on the Kāpiti Coast. The retreat includes intensive morning workshops, lively afternoon panels, discussions and space and time to write, relax and engage with topics critical to your work. Read about last year’s event here.
Kahini is delighted to host six established New Zealand and international writers–Helen Lehndorf, Hera Lindsay Bird, Jordan Hartt, Nalini Singh, Queenie Rikihana-Hyland, and Vivienne Plumb–who will teach the Retreat. Each writer will teach morning workshops: three in fiction, two in poetry, one in memoir writing, and one cross-genre. (Read descriptions of the workshops and teachers below.)
Evening get together
In the afternoons the same teachers will lead panels and discussions on topics pertinent to craft and literature in Aotearoa. All writers are welcome, at whatever stage you are in your writing life. You’ll find community, encouragement, and a safe place in which to take artistic risks. Please contact Kirsten at for more information. Register for the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat!

2017 Grimshaw Sargeson Fellows announced – two poets – Congratulations!

New Zealand poets Steven Toussaint and Gregory Kan have been awarded the prestigious 2017 Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship. This is the first time two poets have been the recipients of the fellowship.

The poets will have the opportunity to focus on their craft full-time, with each having a six-month tenure at the Sargeson Centre in Auckland, and sharing an annual stipend of $20,000.

Originally from the United States, Steven Toussaint is looking forward to seeing where the fellowship takes him, as his writing is often troubled by our increasingly digital environment.

“The digital age has opened up wonderful opportunities for new kinds of communication. However, it has also scattered our attention in many different directions. At times I feel concerned that my attention is strained by all the media and digital attractions that exist around me,” he says.

Steven will use the fellowship to work on a new book of poetry, which will consist of individual poems with unifying themes about religious imagination.

Steven’s published works include a chapbook, Fiddlehead, which was published in New Zealand in 2014, with his first full length book, The Bellfounder, published the following year in the United States.

Gregory Kan says the fellowship provides a wonderful platform to help writers gain traction in an unrestrained world of literature.

“The digital age has meant that we have more writing than ever before – it’s a form that was previously only accessible to a privileged group, but is now more pervasive than ever which is fantastic,” he says.

Gregory will be using the fellowship to work on another book of poems. He will be consolidating pieces of already completed work as well as writing new pieces which interrogate the writing of biography and autobiography in this era of overwhelming and spectacular information.

Gregory published his first book this year, This Paper Boat with Auckland University Press, which is on the Okham NZ Book Awards long list for poetry. His work has been published in numerous literary journals, as well as contemporary art exhibitions and catalogues.

Frank Sargeson Trust Chair Elizabeth Aitken-Rose says she is delighted with the calibre of this year’s fellows and is excited to see them take their work to the next level.

“The current technological revolution is shining a light on some wonderful talent we may never have known about before – and this was quite evident in the quality of applicants we received this year,” she says.

“Being a writer in the digital age gives writers unprecedented opportunity, yet this can make it more challenging for writers to cut through and have their voice heard. This is particularly the case for poets, we are very excited to have two poets win the Fellowship this year.

“The fellowship will assist Steven and Gregory in gaining traction in this highly competitive environment, giving them a platform from which they can continue to build their careers and time to dedicate to their projects.”

The fellowship will run from 1 April 2017 to 30 November 2017. Steven will have the first stint at the residence with Gregory finishing out the tenure.

In 2016 the fellowship was awarded to Diana Wichtel and Breton Dukes. Other previous winners include Alan Duff, Michael King and Janet Frame.

The fellowship has been recognising and supporting some of our greatest talents for more than 30 years, says Grimshaw & Co Partner Paul Grimshaw.

“It offers vital support to New Zealand writers to focus, uninterrupted, on their work,” Grimshaw says. “They are contributing to New Zealand’s literary landscape and we are very proud to support them.”

Further information on the Fellowship is available here. Any queries can be directed to Elizabeth Bennie at or on +64 9 375 2393.