Tag Archives: IIML

Time to enter National Schools Poetry Award

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And the judge is Louise Wallace.

Louise Wallace‘s poems have been published in literary journals in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S., translated into German and Spanish, and anthologised in Best of Best New Zealand Poems, Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page, and Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 Political Poems. In 2015 she was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin. In 2016 she represented New Zealand at the Mexico City Poetry Festival. She is the author of three collections of poetry, all published by Victoria University Press, the most recent being Bad Things (2017). She is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal publishing the work of young New Zealand writers

James Brown and Hera Lindsay Bird are this year’s masterclass convenors.

Details here





Powerful poetry collection wins Adam Foundation Prize


A “powerful, restrained but unafraid” collection of poems that explore the lives of four generations of Māori women has been awarded the 2017 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing by Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML).

Tayi Tibble, 22, wrote the winning work—In a Fish Tank Filled with Pink Light—as part of her 2017 Master of Arts (MA) at the IIML.

Tayi describes winning the Adam Foundation Prize as incredibly encouraging. “It was a privilege and a pleasure to have spent the year so deeply immersed in the world of writing with such talented, intelligent, and generous friends. I believe it was the high calibre of work from my peers that stimulated my growth as a writer, as well as the guidance and encouragement from Louise Wallace and Chris Price. Although I am sad to see the end of this invaluable year, winning the Adam Foundation Prize signals the beginning of a new chapter.”

Wellington-born Tayi (Te Whānau a Apanui/Ngāti Porou) went to school in Porirua and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Policy from Victoria. She has regularly appeared in Wellington’s LitCrawl Festival, and her work has been published in Starling—the journal for writers under 25—and Landfall.

Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3,000 Adam Foundation Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the MA in Creative Writing programme at the IIML.

Chris Price, a senior lecturer at the IIML and co-convenor of this year’s Master’s programme, says it’s been a pleasure to read the poems as they have developed over the course of the year.

“Tayi is an ambitious writer who has seized every opportunity to extend her craft and her range of subject matter. Her poems speak to contemporary urban realities, and to the histories that created them. They are also charming, funny and on point.”

This is the second year running that the Adam Foundation Prize has gone to a 22-year-old writer, after Annaleese Jochems’ novel Baby received the prize in 2016.

“Tayi joins the incoming wave of young writers who are forging the future of literature in this country. We are confident she will make her mark,” says Chris.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include acclaimed authors Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young, Hera Lindsay Bird and Eleanor Catton.

Interview with Anne Kennedy at Turbine: ‘The mirage of writing keeps moving’




This is a terrific interview (interviewed by Evangeline Riddiford Graham and Elizabeth Baikie) from Anne Kennedy as her Residency  at Victoria University draws to a close.

Full interview here.


In this place, at this time, what are you reading? 

I’ve just finished Helene Wong’s memoir, Being Chinese, which is a beautiful and moving book. I felt ashamed and inspired at once reading about the racism that was dealt to the Chinese community here, and how despite that they just got on with it. I’ve been reading what I bring home from Wellington book launches: Nick Ascroft’s Back With the Human Condition, hilarious and serious poetry, a good combination; Sarah Laing’s Mansfield and Me which I binge-read one weekend and then found myself with a Laing-like running commentary in my head. Lee Posna’s riveting Arboretum. I’m reading a novel by Susanna Moore, Sleeping Beauties, which interests me because it’s set in Hawai`i.



Some favourite quotes:

‘Writing is in defiance of the material world even though it’s often a representation of it.’

 ‘Who will write about here, apart from us?’
‘Basically my writing life is made up of getting enthusiastic about a form or medium, deciding it’s too something, too rhythmic, not rhythmic enough, and trying another one.’

Bold new novel wins Adam Prize



In a strong year for new writing at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), a risk-taking, wildly funny, ‘powerful and troubling’ novel has been awarded the 2016 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing.

Annaleese Jochems, 22, wrote the winning book, And Lower, as part of her 2016 Master of Arts (MA) at the IIML.

“I’m ecstatic and still a little unbelieving at having won. My classmates are a group of deep-feeling, hard-thinking writers and we’re a team now. It’s been a privilege to be involved in their projects and to receive their considered feedback on my novel. Emily Perkins and Pip Adam are both extremely patient, knowledgeable and questioning teacher-supervisors who pushed me to the edge of my brain’s capacity. I’ll never be the same again!” Annaleese says.

Annaleese had been studying writing at the Manakau Institute of Technology in Auckland and moved to Wellington to take up a place on the IIML MA programme.

Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3,000 Adam Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the MA in Creative Writing programme at the IIML.

And Lower tells the dream-like story of two young women who steal money and flee Auckland to live on a boat in the Bay of Islands. It centres on Cynthia, described by one examiner as “a superb character, a creature of pure physical and emotional need,” and her series of misadventures, driven by an erotic fixation and a world-view gleaned from a close study of reality TV. Cynthia wants nothing but love, but when a rival gets in her way the black comedy heats up, and the plot takes a thrilling, violent turn.

Emily Perkins, a senior lecturer at the IIML and co-convenor of this year’s Master’s programme, says it’s been a delight to read the novel as it has developed over the course of the MA.

“Annaleese is an inventive, bold and ambitious writer. She is one of a terrific group of new writers coming through the MA programme, and her exhilarating novel is full of ideas and absurdities that speak to our times. And Lower takes the reader on an unsettling, sometimes hilarious, always surprising ride, rendered with sensory acuity and charm.”

Acclaimed author Tracey Slaughter, an examiner for Annaleese’s thesis, praises:  ‘a narrative of delightful originality’ and ‘dazzlingly astute observations’, delivering a ‘slick transition from irony to menace… with lucid, pared-back imagery’.

“Throughout, it is Jochems’ piercing sense of tone which shines. The voice of the piece is always taut, savvy, biting… beautiful.”

An extract from the novel features in the newly launched 2016 edition of literary journal Turbine | Kapohau, available online.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include authors Eleanor Catton, Catherine Chidgey, Ashleigh Young and Hera Lindsay Bird.

Poetry Shelf Friday Poem: Bill Nelson’s ‘Regrets only’


Regrets only


You’ll take your grandfather roller skating,

watch from the edge of the rink.


For dinner you’ll make rabbit stew

and discuss the character of poultry.


Rose petals as a garnish, but also to eat.

Not many people know you can do that.


Sometimes it seems you’re the only two people

in an absorbing, character-based mystery.


You know this is all adding up to something—the roller skating, the rose petals, the rabbits.


©Bill Nelson 2016


from Bill Nelson’s newly released Memorandum of Understanding Victoria University Press 2016. Bill Nelson currently lives in Wellington. He was awarded the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry from International Institute of Modern Letters in 2009. He co-edits Up Country, an online journal devoted to outdoor pursuits. I did read elsewhere that he is a map maker! Lots of poems leapt out at me but I just love the ending of this poem and the electricity between those three things. This debut collection delivers clarity of voice along with tilts, kinks, uplifts and an essential dose of human warmth. Running along the beach yesterday, I was musing on how I am attracted to poems first through the ear, then through the heart, then through the tilting gaps and finally in the light of Ruth Padel’s chewy bits. I think this book delivers on all four in different ways. Worth adding to your shelf!


VUP page

Another poem on The Spin Off

Booksellers review

Donations are now being sought for IIML’s National School’s Poetry Award 2015.

Donations are now being sought for IIML’s National School’s Poetry Award 2015.

Set up by Bill Manhire in 2003, this award is a golden opportunity for secondary-school students keen on creative writing.

As Tim Fraser, Hutt International Boys’ School, 2013 runner-up says: ‘The National School’s Poetry Award was something I never thought I could place in but I did it, ever hopeful. Getting in the top ten has much improved my confidence in my own skills. I will definitely continue to create poetry and certainly this Award has been a booster towards my belief in my abilities.’

Margie McLaren, who teaches at Baradene College, is also convinced: ‘The main benefit is the new confidence instilled in the students about the value of poetry in a utilitarian world which does not always attach the significance to poetry that it deserves . . . The Award is an affirmation of the many benefits of working with and celebrating language, and the special ways in which poetry can reflect human experience. The opportunity of entering for the Award has been a very positive and rewarding experience.’

You can donate here.