Monthly Archives: June 2015

Hearty congratulations to poet Hinemoana Baker — winner of the Berlin Writer’s Residency 2015

Hinemoana Baker

Photo credit: Robert Cross

The 2015-16 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency has been awarded to Wellington-based writer, Hinemoana Baker (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa).

The residency allows an established writer to work on an approved project for up to eleven months in Berlin, Germany and covers travel to and accommodation in Berlin, a monthly stipend and incidentals.

Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright says, “Along with dedicated space and time to devote to an approved project, this residency has enabled some of our finest writers to experience the culture of this inspirational city and develop their work in a new environment. A further benefit is that it helps build awareness of New Zealand literature in Berlin.”

Ms Baker will work on a new collection of poetry during her time in Berlin and attend poetry events in Poland and Belarus.

She says, “My mother’s ancestors arrived in New Zealand on the St Pauli from Oberammergau, Bavaria via Hamburg. Living in Germany would allow me to further investigate these whakapapa connections and write into them. I’ll take German classes too. I learned Māori as an adult, and I’m looking forward to the experience of learning this new, ancestral language. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus solely on the writing of poetry for such a solid block of time.”

For the rest of the CNZ announcement see here.

Kerrin P Sharpe’s There’s a Medical Name for This — It is an astonishing book that lurked in the undergrowth of my thoughts for months

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Kerrin P Sharpe There’s No Medical Name for This Victoria University Press, 2014


Last year I posted a poem from Kerrin P Sharpe’s new poetry collection, There’s a Medical Name for This. Finally, after all this time, I have picked up the book to reread and review. It is an astonishing book that lurked in the undergrowth of my thoughts for months with its sachets of strangeness, enigma, acute realness. Just casting your eye down the poem titles is poetry pleasure. Some collections house a poem or two that stand out, where the poet has transcended that which is good to become that which astonishes. In this book, I found countless examples that did that for me. Not in a flaming extravagant way but in ways that are at more of an alluring whisper. These poems are imbued with little droplets of incident, image, tension.

Near the start of the book, a miniature earthquake poem, whose perfect line breaks punctuate the modicum of detail, the deft phrasing (‘the basilica is a waltz of stone’) and the way the final stanza sings you back to the title (‘when gerry thinks of angels he hears their wings’).

Sometimes, oftentimes, the poems step into strangeness surrealness the point of becoming fable. There are no endnotes to provide author-led guy ropes into a poem so it is over to you where you step. ‘[T]here were stars behind him,’ a portrait of an elephant, shifts from an elephant in a photograph with Hemingway to ‘that year the elephant/ became a living lighthouse/ he wore a lamp/ and built a curved staircase.’ Magical. Or, in an even more captivating example (‘in the cart’), a mother, a pie cart, two hats and pastry come together in what might be a bedtime story, an heirloom anecdote, a housewifery lesson.

Rather than talk about what the poems are doing, I keep discovering snippets to share with you. The way the beginnings of the poems catch you by surprise: ‘every poem has a mother/ to feed his house/ the small bones of snow.’ Where to after such a glorious start? An equally glorious ending (I am withholding the middle!): ‘not even his mother// sews such small birds.’

Things aren’t stable in this collection. This becomes that and that becomes this as tropes shift and settle and then shift again. And so ‘a pine that is/ really the breeze/ a fish that is/ really a stone.’ Similes startle and invigorate the lines: ‘her thoughts in the thermal pools/ like fern wrapped sushi.’

These poems draw upon illness, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, twins, snow, much snow, ponies, many ponies, birds and feathers. Whatever the subject matter, there is movement, and out of that movement vibrant, life.

Characters (pilgrims, farmers, surgeons, whistlers, gondoliers) stroll though the poems and it seems to me they wear whiffs of the poet, autobiographical traces, and yet they are more than that. Anyone can occupy these shoes that are like little shoe-stories that get handed down and then tried on for size. They are also, and so often, like fairy tales that take you out of the tedium of daily grind and familiarity and transport you to the magic and mystery of otherness and magical possibility. The poems might have a local genesis but they reach out beyond to the faraway, to Russia, rice plantations, Antarctica. Here or there, everything is in debt to place and that attachment to ‘where’ is one that makes the poems matter (‘the small farmer remains place faithful/ to the dell’). Characters become a way of circulating stories, those traces of anecdote, a forward tang to elsewhere (a turbine// turns my father’). The procession of pilgrims throughout is the poetic glue that tenders physical bearings to an uplift of wonderment. We get to be the pilgrims of the poems. We get to feel the gap, the connections, the arrival at arm’s length.

Some poems surprise in their shifting forms. ‘[S]on’ juxtaposes two definitions — the first stanza prosaic and dictionary-like, the second stanza exemplifying personal portrait as definition. The ‘half the story’ (I adore this poem!) is indeed half a story; it builds a list that builds narrative out of what you might call stream-of-conscious jump cuts.

You need a treasure box to store the adorable phrases and lines: ‘She carries him through the loom/ of fields’ ‘in the long legged darkness’ ‘the beachcomber/ keeps a button box/ a cross section/ of folded years’ ‘my father’s kitchen/ was older than eggs.’

This is a collection of exquisite variety, yet these poems are a snug fit as though for all their differences, they are meant to be together. As I read, my favourite poem was replaced by the one I was currently reading, and then again, and then again. To read these poems is to be a pilgrim – tasting the sweet and sour bite of the land, feeling the lure of travel and elsewhere, entering the space between here and there that is utterly mysterious, facing a terrific moment of epiphany.


VUP page


2015 Emerging Poets Competition

2015 Emerging Poets Competition

Proudly supported by The Divine Muses Poetry Reading and Penguin Random House New Zealand, the Emerging Poets Competition is now in its 4th year. The competition enables writers who have to achieve that all important first publication to gain success and exposure. Our previous winners, including poet, editor and blogger, Elizabeth Welsh and poet and book reviewer, Elizabeth Morton, have gone on to achieve publication success in NZ literary journals. In 2015, our judge is poet and novelist, Rosetta Allan, a former competition runner up.

About the competition:

Closing Date: 3rd August 2015



Results announced at Divine Muses Poetry Reading on National Poetry Day 2015, 28th August 2015

First Prize: $200 worth of Penguin Random House NZ books

Second Prize: $100 worth of Penguin Random House NZ books


Notice of the 2015 Emerging Poets Competition rules and entry form are available at:

About our judge:

Rosetta Allan’s books include the poetry collections, Little Rock (2007) and Over Lunch (2010), and her debut novel Purgatory (Penguin Random House NZ, 2014). Her poetry and essays have appeared in publications and anthologies in New Zealand, Australia and the USA, and in online literary journals, including most recently the essay Dear Mother, songs of the Kamikaze, released in The Griffith Review #48. She is the co-winner of the IWW Kathleen Grattan Best Sequence of Poetry 2010 and Metonomy’s Best Poem 2010, and was runner up in the 2013 Emerging Poets Competition. Rosetta is available for interviews

For further information contact:
Siobhan Harvey:

or Jane Sanders:

NZ Flash Fiction: A National Week of it, every which way you look!

In today’s Sunday Star TImes

Flash writers on writing flash and what it means to them:

Michelle Elvy

(NFFD founder and organiser)

My tips: Don’t beat around the bush. What you omit is as important as what you say; there’s beauty between words – in the space you create, at the edges of the story. Don’t go for gimmick. Edit: when you think you’re done, cut it in half. Quality over quantity.

Owen Marshall

(NFFD 2015 judge)

It’s about control of language, perception of human nature, originality, emotional power. A lot has to be done by insinuation and subtext, every word has to do its job. It really has to have something to say.

Gill Ward

(creative writing teacher; 2015 shortlisted writer)

It’s like when people tell a story. They don’t use a lot of words but they still tell it in a way that you understand. In a lot of modern fiction, they like to try and stay mysterious, but when you’ve only got a certain amount of words you can’t afford that luxury.

Hayden Pyke

(2015 shortlisted writer)

There’s something quite cool about finishing something; the satisfaction of actually having something completed. I just try to write about the things that are happening with the people in my life. It’s important to me that those little things that happen in people’s lives that are maybe looked over and seem quite mundane, that those things get written about as well.

Frankie McMillan

(previous NFFD comp winner and judge, 2015 twice shortlisted writer)

Flash leaves room for the reader to respond, you can publish on your own Facebook page, people get used to being efficient with language. As a tutor, it’s good for teaching students about using imagery to suggest, rather than spelling it all out. Most of all you want something that lingers in the mind; so you put it down and it’s still with you half an hour later.


For the rest of today’s Sunday Star Times article with comments on Flash Fiction by other writers see here.

For full list of Flash Events go here:

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Other Flash Around Aotearoa

Northland June 3 * Dunedin June 8 * Auckland inside.out June 10 * Masterton June 23 * Details below for each event



Northland Flash Fiction Competition and event

Flash Fiction Competition 2015

Whangarei Libraries is sponsoring a Northland flash fiction competition for the fourth year in a row. Competition has already closed but the winners will be declared at a special awards ceremony on Wednesday 3 June 2015, 5.30 pm in May Bain Room, Whangarei Central Library.

Short-listed stories will be read and winners will be announced. All are welcome.



The NZ Society of Authors Otago Southland Branch is holding a Flash Fiction themed Writers Salon on Monday June 8 at The Thistle Cafe & Bar in The Octagon.

The theme for the Writers Salon in June – 6pm Monday June 8 – will be Flash Fiction

We will feature eight writers reading work of 500 words. All selected contributions will include the word flash in one of these forms:



insideout June 10Inside.out open mic for writers goes flash in june — inviting writers of flash fiction to come share your stories. Hosted at the One2One Cafe, 121 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby.

inside.out runs open mic spots for writers of any experience or genre. Stories and poetry are illuminated when read aloud or performed. Meet other writers as well. Excellent musicians and competitions with prizes at each event. The cafe is licensed with hot snacks and great coffee.

Entry by koha, which goes to the musicians that night.

Come from 6pm; open mic starts at 7pm.Let’s hear what you’ve been working on…

Find inside.out on Facebook /

contact MC Anita Arlov:   tel. 021 100 40 77 



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Short Is Sweet — Flash event at the Masterton District Library on 23 June. All are welcome!



This year, regional awards for the best flash fiction stories entered in the national competition are being offered by the NZ Society of Authors branches in the following regions:

Auckland * Canterbury * Central District *

Hamilton * Northland * Otago * Wellington 

Regional Awards will be announced on June 22. NFFD is excited and grateful to have the support of the NZ Society of Authors branches.



If you would like to organise something in your area, get in touch!


nationalflash [at] gmail [dot] com


And if you happen to be in the UK the following week, after our June 22 events have closed, check out the UK NFFD. June 27, 2015. Details here.

Writers turn the page this Matariki at Museum of Wellington City

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Thursday 11 June

Writers turn the page this Matariki


A literary celebration of Matariki will take place at Museum of Wellington City and Sea’s Third Thursday event on 18 June from 6.00pm to 8.30pm.

Kiwi authors Patricia Grace, Chris Tse, Kate Camp and John Summers will read from their published works and discuss their stories, poetry and thoughts on Matariki with award-winning writer and Museums Wellington Curator Māori, Tina Makereti.

“Matariki is a time of reflection and acknowledgement, when we mourn those who have passed away, farewell the year and plan for the year to come,” says Makereti. “It’s an opportunity to think about our history, and understand how it guides us in our potential futures. This will provide the starting point for what promises to be a lively discussion with these great writers.”

Patricia Grace’s new book Chappy tells of a young Māori man sent home to New Zealand from a privileged youth in Europe. Here, he learns of his family, and most importantly of the love affair between his Māori Grandmother and deceased Japanese Grandfather.

Chris Tse’s anthology How To Be Dead In a Year of Snakes brings life to one of New Zealand’s notorious hate crimes, when on a Sunday in 1905 Lionel Terry killed the Chinese gold miner Joe Kum Yung on Haining Street, Wellington.

Snow White’s Coffin is a collection of poetry by Kate Camp, a book that was finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. A skilled poet, Kate wrote Snow White’s Coffin while on her Creative New Zealand Berlin residency.

John Summers will be reading from his first book The Mermaid Boy – an appealing book of true short stories telling of his travels from Christchurch to China, spanning from the outlandish to the ordinary, and of his friendship with “a boy who dressed as a woman who was also a fish”.

After the readings and discussion, the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions, get books signed and create their own handmade booklet of readings to take home.

Third Thursday is a monthly late-night event at Museum of Wellington City and Sea, showcasing the performers, people and stories which make our region unique. Entry to these events is by koha.

For further information on these events or high res photos, please contact Museums Wellington Communications Coordinator, Juliet Thomas.


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