A Review, A Colony, A Competition, Several Genres, and a Beautiful Thing

Time for one of those posts that covers just about everything:

A new review of Transported

Rosemarie Smith has given a positive review in the Southland Times to my short story collection Transported (which you can buy online from Fishpond, New Zealand Books Abroad (for both overseas and New Zealand residents), or Whitcoulls). This former Southlander is pleased to see another good review of Transported in a South Island newspaper.

Wellington Writers’ Colony several steps closer

I blogged a while back about Doug Wilkins and his plan to set up a Wellington Writers’ Colony, modeled on the Sanchez Grotto Annex in San Francisco. Those plans are now several steps closer to fruition. Doug needs just one more writer on board to make the Colony a reality. I have now seen the space he’s planning to use, and it is well-lit, stylish and comfy. If you would like your own dedicated writing space alongside a group of like-minded writers, then contact Doug at dbwilkins@gmail.com or 021-138-5050.

New Poetry Competition

Bookhabit.com and the New Zealand Poetry Society have jointly announced a new poetry competition, with prizes for poetry in both written and performance (audio or video) format. The competition begins on Monday 22 September and runs for six weeks, and the prizes on offer are attractive:


* 1st US$500, 2nd $200, 3rd $100 – each section
* Overall Winner $500
* All prizes in US Dollars.

Judged by the New Zealand Poetry Society

* People’s Performance Choice $500 (Audio and Video section only-
awarded to the person delivering poem)

Judged by registered Bookhabit users

For the full entry conditions and other details, see http://www.bookhabit.com/competition/competition.php.

The Great Genre Debate Continues

The questions of genre which have been discussed on this blog by Johanna Knox and myself (here and here), plus plenty of commenters, are alive and well in the blogosphere. A couple of examples:

– Michael Chabon and Jeffrey Ford on why genre tags don’t matter.
– Charlie Anders asks Do You Really Want Science Fiction Books To Be More Literary?

A Beautiful Thing

God-With-Us is Reginald Shepherd’s last poem, written as he lay dying. It’s a beautiful meditation on faith, belief and doubt. I think it might be the best poem I’ve read this year, and I have read some very, very good ones.

Good News from Ireland

New Zealander Heidi North has just won the 1,000 Euro first prize in the Adult English section of the 2007 International Féile Filíochta Poetry Competition in Ireland with her poem The Women.

That’s great news: great for Heidi, great for New Zealand poetry, but also especially pleasing to me because Heidi and I were part of the 2003 intake for the Victoria University undergraduate creative writing paper CREW 256 Writing the Landscape, taught by Dinah Hawken.

I have ambivalent feelings about creative writing courses in general, but my feelings about this course remain quite unmixed: it’s great. Dinah is a wonderful tutor, the course (covering landscape writing in both poetry and creative non-fiction) was excellent, and the group of students in 2003 – twelve of us, eight women and four men, ranging in age from early 20s to considerably older, and with widely differing levels of prior writing experience – really clicked. Some fine work was written on that course (and not all of it was about penguins mating under the floorboards of the houses on Matiu-Somes).

About half the original group still live in and around Wellington. After the course finished, many of us continued to meet regularly to share our work; we don’t meet so often any more, but we still catch up from time to time. Many of those unpublished at the time of the course have gone on to subsequent publication, and Heidi isn’t the only one to be making a name for herself: I expect I’ll be mentioning the successes of other members of the group sooner rather than later.

I like Heidi’s poem a lot, and I’m delighted for her success. If you’re at all interested in landscape and nature writing, or if you’re simply interested in becoming a better writer, and you live in the Wellington region, I can recommend Writing the Landscape as a course that’s well worth taking.