Massey University Poetry News

Massey poets on a winning streak

Two Massey University poets from the School of English and Media Studies are on a winning streak, with one shortlisted for a top international prize and another taking out a national poetry award.


Dr Jo Emeney                                          Janet Newman


A poem by Master of Creative Writing student Janet Newman has won the Open category of the New Zealand Poet Society’s 2015 International Poetry Competition.

Ms Newman says her poem, Biking to the Manawatū River, evokes the natural beauty as well as artificially transformed features of the environment. Judge Harvey Molloy said her poem shows “great focus and restraint.”

“Through description we see what might glibly be called our ‘environmental impacts’, but there’s also a personal, subjective mind present in ‘leaves like curled hair’ and roots ‘wrenched up like memory’. Nothing here is overstated or forced and yet an atmosphere of understated disquiet pervades – there’s violence at every turn,” he said in his report.

Ms Newman is nearing completion of her degree, which she has worked on for the past two years. She has been writing poetry for a number of years, and is working on a collection of new poems, as well as researching the eco-poems of New Zealand poet Dinah Hawken, for her thesis.

Another Master of Creative Writing student, Gail Ingram, earned a Commended award for her poem Once Were Elvers.

The New Zealand Poetry Society was founded in 1973 by Wellington writer Irene Adcock, and will host a poetry conference in Wellington from November 13 – 15.

Auckland-based poet and creative writing teacher Dr Johanna Emeney has made the shortlist of 50 for the Montreal International Poetry Prize from some 2,000 poems entered from around the world.

The winner will be announced in early December. She and Associate Professor Bryan Walpert, who teaches creative writing at the Manawatū campus, were both selected for the long list of 70 announced last month.

This year’s is the third prestigious biennial award, worth C$20,000 (NZ $21,500).

Dr Emeney’s poem, There will be no more horses here, will be published as part of the organisation’s anthology, and is already available to read and as an audio recording on its website.

She recently gained her PhD in Creative Writing on medical language and themes in poetry, and hopes to publish a collection of poems, titled Family History. The poems are about her mother, and were written as part of her doctoral thesis.

This year’s Montreal Prize judge is Irish poet, Eavan Boland, one of Dr Emeney’s favourites. “Having taught the poetry of Eavan Boland to many classes of sixth form students in the UK, I get to experience the fantastic feeling of knowing that she’s holding my poem in her hands and reading it. That’s crazy!”

The Montreal Prize publishes the top 50 poems of each competition in its Global Poetry Anthology Series with Vehicule Press. Its website says the competition is; “committed to encouraging the creation of original works of poetry, to building cross-national readership and to exploring the world’s Englishes”.

Listen to Dr Emeney read her poem on the Montreal International Poetry Prize website here.

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