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Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Michael King Writers Centre residencies 2020

Full details here


The Michael King Writers Centre Trust is looking forward to welcoming and hosting a diverse cohort of writers who during their time in Devonport’s Signalman’s House, will work upon an exciting and eclectic range of topics to include: two memoirs; seven novels and short story collections; three children’s books; two theatre plays; two collections of poetry, and four non-fiction projects.

The presitigous University of Auckland/MKWC Residencies were awarded to Pip Adam, Albert Belz, Tom Doig and Penelope Jackson.

Other established writers to receive residencies include current Poet Laureate David Eggleton, Hera Lindsay Bird, Jeff Evans, Rachael King, Bren MacDibble, Tina Makereti, Joshua Pomare, Max Rashbrooke and Tania Roxborogh.

Emerging writers awarded a residency are Aroha Awarau, Jane Arthur, Rose Carlyle, Megan Dunn, Amy McDaid, Tru Paraha and Maria Samuela.




Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Jane Arthur’s ‘Situation’




Kākā have been screaming across the sky.

I’ve been thinking up jokes to tell myself.

One of the dogs pisses on the floor as soon as I leave the room.

The other dog follows me around the house.

There are a lot of dogs in the neighbourhood.

I am sure they know how to behave.

They don’t bark so much.

I’ve been preoccupied with what others think again.

I’ve been trying not to let people down.

Nights are not long enough.

Lately there’s been more sun than I would’ve expected.

I keep the weather report open in its own tab and check it often.

The internet has most of the answers I’m looking for.

Some of my questions come up at inconvenient times.

Some are just hard to explain.

Like, when people say ‘I want you inside me’

do they sometimes mean cannibalism?

Or that they want to inject your fluids into their veins?

Or do they only ever mean something plainly sexual?

Don’t laugh, it’s not always obvious, and

sometimes desire can make us hungry or violent.

Maybe healthy emotional behaviour wasn’t modelled to us as children.

So we bite. We draw blood. We take things that aren’t ours, I don’t know.


Jane Arthur, Craven, Victoria University Press, 2019




Jane Arthur was the recipient of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2018, judged by Eileen Myles. She has worked in the book industry for over fifteen years as a bookseller and editor, and has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University of Wellington. Born in New Plymouth, she lives in Wellington with her family. Her first poetry collection, Craven, was published in September 2019 by Victoria University Press.

Victoria University Press page








Poetry Shelf noticeboard: the sublime Ladies LiteraTea 2019



Spot the authors before they head to the signing table! Excuse my bad photos.


I almost didn’t go to the Ladies LiteraTea yesterday afternoon, but I am so glad I did, as it was the strongest event yet! I had already read and loved some of the books and that makes a difference – to hear Elizabeth Knox read a section from The Absolute Book was bliss. I told the people next to me I thought of it as The Astonishing Book! Equally blissful to hear readings from two of my favourite poetry books of the year to date: Helen Rickerby’s How to Live and Vana Manasiadis’s The Grief Almanac. Plus Mary Kisler’s sublime Finding Frances Hodgkins. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.

You could hear a pin drop as we listened.

I loved watching Marilyn Waring on stage as she leaned back, shut her eyes, and listened to the other readers. It was like witnessing a most private and intimate moment – the moment when you lose yourself in the pleasure and power of stories and crafted words.

Four and half hours of intent listening in a packed auditorium with a sumptuous afternoon tea in the middle. It was heaven. The authors have either 20 or 10 minutes so you really lose yourself in their fluencies, preoccupations, loves.

Aside from the books familiar to me, I got to hear extracts from books I am about to read (Ruby Porter’s Attraction) and books I bought on the day (Laurence Fearnley’s Scent and Whiti Hereaka’s Book-Award winning, YA novel, Legacy).

Whiti also read the prologue she wrote for the book she has co-edited with Witi Ihimaera Purakau: Maori Myths Retold by Maori Writers. To hear this alone was worth driving in from the coast. I now have the book and I can’t wait to read it. I can’t wait to hear Whiti read again. I so wish you could hear her read the prologue.


Carole Beu and her team from the Women’s Bookshop worked hard to produce this stunning event. I loved every author; I was enchanted and moved. I laughed out loud, was on the verge of tears, delighted in the musicality of words, the stories they transported.

Thank you for the mahi and the aroha Carole – your event fed one very happy and satiated audience. Me included.



The programme:

1pm Michele Powles – When We Remember to Breathe  This beautiful collection bares the raw joy, beauty, discomfort & humour of modern motherhood. The result is remarkable & fearless. (Michele will be replacing Elizabeth Smither who is unable to make it.)

1.20pm Margie Thomson – Womankind  A landmark publication, with stunning words & images, about NZ women – all ages & ethnicities, famous & unknown – who have truly ‘made a difference’.

1.40pm Laurence Fearnley – Scented  A fascinating, poignant new novel about a women’s search for identity after her university career ends – obsessed with scent, she creates unique perfumes.

1.55pm Whiti Hereaka – Winner 2019 Young Adult Fiction Award for Legacy , & editor, with Witi Ihimaera, of the spellbinding Purakau: Maori Myths Retold by Maori Writers

2.15pm Helen Rickerby – How to Live  Poetry publisher from Seraph Press with her own new collection – witty, philosophical, feminist poems about women’s lives, that experiment with the poetic form

2.25pm Ruby Porter – Attraction  Provocative, engaging & highly praised first novel takes 3 young women on a road trip, navigating their relationships & NZ’s colonial past.

2.40pm Bernadette (Bets) Gee – Magnolia Kitchen  She’s an Instagram sensation & her book bulges with delectable recipes (including allergy-free), clever tips & sensational decorating inspiration

3pm – 3.45pm Afternoon Tea

3.45pm Marilyn Waring – The Political Years “This frank narrative of courage & tenacity in the face of an intensely patriarchal & homophobic polity will surprise & reward readers across generations” Sue Bradford

4.10pm Rosetta Allan – The Unreliable People A whole population exiled by Stalin, a Korean folk tale, Kazakhstan, a young art student searching for identity – – a fascinating novel.

4.25pm Linda Burgess – Someone’s Wife  A delightful collection of essays, personal & universal, exploring family, teaching, living overseas, being the wife of an All Black . . . witty & moving

4.40pm Vana Manasiadis – The Grief Almanac; A Sequel  A bold combination of poetry, essays, memoir, a lost mother, melding Greek with English; unconventional & richly textured.

4.50pm Elizabeth Knox – The Absolute Book  New from the brilliantly imaginative Knox, an epic fantasy with secrets, treasures, revenge, & three people driven towards a reckoning felt in more than one world.

5.10pm Mary Kisler – Finding Frances Hodgkins  The curator of the recent magnificent exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery, travelled throughout Europe & UK, following in Hodgkins’ fascinating footsteps.

Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Oturehua writers Jillian Sullivan and Brian Turner – double literary success


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Oturehua writers Jillian Sullivan and Brian Turner are flanked by some of their beloved Central Otago hills. The pair have both won awards in the 2019 New Zealand Heritage Literary Awards. Photo: Fiona Sydney

Full ODT story here

Oturehua writers and neighbours Brian Turner and Jillian Sullivan have notched up a double success in the New Zealand Heritage Literary Awards.

Sullivan has won the poetry section with her poem The Huts, and Turner has been awarded a special poetry book award for his Selected Poems.

The judges said the poems in Turner’s book included a “very moving tribute” to his father at Monte Cassino.

Turner said it was touching to have the Memories of War poem about his father singled out.




Poetry Shelf: a mother poem from Louise Wrightson






Mother, the dark is coming


from beyond the sea.


It is moving above the waves,


over the driftwood


on the sand, winding through


the mist-covered land.



I will stay with you.


I will hold your hand.



Mother, when I was young


and afraid of the night,


you bought me a light


and sat by my bed.


You said that the dark


could be my friend.



I will stay near you.


Stay here until the end.




Mother, I remember how


we waited on the lawn


that night until the dark


dissolved into colours


and the scary shapes


were familiar and clear.



I will stay beside you.


There is nothing to fear.



Mother, the dark is here.


It is only a shadow


that covers your body


and you are the light


within its shape—the flame.


You burn so brightly!



Now, I hold your hand.


Now, I call your name.





                                                            Louise Wrightson—October 2019


Louise Wrightson has an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from the IIML (The International Institute of Modern Letters) Victoria University, Wellington. She lives and writes near Otari-Wilton’s Bush, a 100-hectare reserve of regenerating forest. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals.



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