Festival and awards for Massey’s creative writers


Several Massey staff, students and graduates are part of this year's Auckland Writers Festival


Four creative writers connected with Massey’s School of English and Media Studies are shining bright in the Auckland Writers Festival and Ockham New Zealand Book Awards this week.

PhD student in Creative Writing Gina Cole was one of the winners at Wednesday night's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She won the Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction for Black Ice Matter (Huia Publishers), a collection of short stories exploring connections between extremes of heat and cold.

She is also appearing in the Auckland Writers Festival, including Thursday night’s gala opening event: True Stories Told Live: the Heart of the Matter. In this event, she and seven other writers from around the globe will each deliver seven-minute true stories (without a script) inspired by the theme, “The Heart of the Matter.”

In Pacific Tales on Friday, she reads from her work, along with writers from Asia, the Americas and Australasia.

Ms Cole’s creative/critical PhD will explore concepts of borderlands and cartography through a novel on Pasifika themes and a post-colonial critical investigation of speculative Pasifika fiction, says one of her supervisors, novelist and senior lecturer in Creative Writing Dr Thom Conroy.

Dr Tina Makereti and Gina Cole


Māori and Pasifika literature highlighted

Novelist, essayist and lecturer Dr Tina Makereti (who is Ms Cole's other PhD supervisor) gave a free public lecture at the festival on Māori and Pacific writing on Wednesday. Titled Poutokomanawa - the Heartpost, Dr Makereti’s talk explored the under-representation of Māori and Pasifika writers in literature, despite their “vibrant aesthetic that exists nowhere else on the planet.”

She offered suggestions for “radical renovations” to the local literary scene as part of her vision for a vibrant Māori/Pasifika/Indigenous/New Zealand literature. Currently, Māori and Pasifika poetry and fiction accounts for only three per cent of all locally published literature, she says.

Dr Makereti’s novel Where the Rekohu Bone Sings (Penguin Books 2014) – about the complexities of being Moriori, Māori and Pakeha – was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Prize 2016 and won the 2014 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Fiction Book.

Dr Hannah August and Sue Wooton


Medical and biblical themes discussed by writers

Lecturer Dr Hannah August chairs a discussion at the festival this Saturday titled A Book for the People, about The Bible, with leading New Zealand biblical scholars theologian Lloyd Geering and acclaimed British biographer, historian and novelist A.N. Wilson.

Poet, novelist and Master of Creative Writing graduate Sue Wootton takes part this Saturday in Matters Medical, a discussion about the role of creative writing in weighing up the expectations and responsibilities of diagnosis and patient trust. A former physiotherapist, Ms Wooton is an award-winning poet who last year published her first novel, Strip, which was longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She will join writers David Galler (Things That Matter) and Glenn Colquhoun (The Art of Walking Upright) for this event.

More information about the festival, tagged Love Story (alluding to festival goers' love of the story and the written word) here.

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