Eleanor Catton’s Horoeka/ Lancewood Reading Grant kicks off with a fabulous essay by Amy Brown

‘The conditions, in the wake of this reading, are ideal for beginning to cultivate my own barren planet, to write my new poem, and for that I am very grateful.’      Amy Brown 2015



Eleanor Catton on the grant she has established and to date funded (contributions are welcome!):

‘I established the Horoeka / Lancewood Reading Grant to give New Zealand writers the means and opportunity not to write, but to read, and to share what they have read with their colleagues in the arts.

I hope that this endeavour will challenge our tendency to measure the value of art in the proof of artistic production and productivity, and that it will restore value to the crucial but in many ways unquantifiable activity of reading. Most of all, however, I hope that the grant will encourage free and curious discussion about books.

Each grant is worth NZD$2000, with half awarded at the beginning of the reading period, and half at the end, whereupon the recipient submits a short essay that discusses what they have read and what they thought about it. These essays are then published on this site along with a bibliography.’

For the rest of her statement see here.

The inaugural recipient of this timely project is Amy Brown whose debut poetry collection, The Odour of Sanctity, was published in 2013. She teaches at the University of Melbourne where she was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing.

‘Cultivating the Barren Planet’ by Amy Brown

  • ‘For the last year or so, I have been drawn to news items such as:

    The Country Fire Authority implores residents in rural areas to make Fire Plans so that when it becomes imperative to leave their homes the temptation to stay may be over-ruled by a rational list of instructions.

    Asylum seekers intercepted in Australian waters are being stripped of their personal effects — hearing aids, spectacles, prosthetic limbs and medication — on arrival at detention centres.

    Hundreds of Mars One applicants are hoping to participate in a small Dutch not-for-profit organisation’s plan to send four civilians on a one-way mission to Mars in 2026.

    These stories have struck me, I believe, because I’ve been interpreting them as extreme extensions of my own expatriate situation. In 2014, I applied for permanent residency in Australia, married an Australian, and so began legally relinquishing New Zealand as my home. My country of birth was not being consumed by fire tornadoes or bombed to pieces; I was not fleeing anything. Nor was I choosing to fly for seven months to a planet whose atmosphere could not support my life. However, these news stories gave me a new, oblique angle from which to question when and why I felt ‘at home’ in Australia, how that affected my connection to New Zealand, and, generally, what it means to belong to a place.’

You can read the rest of her essay here.

Current recipients include Craig Cliff, Alex Lodge, Rosabel Tan and Alex Mitcalf Wilson.

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