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Michael King Writers' Centre

Newsletter May 2017

Sage flowers, fijoas

Autumn is well and truly here with glorious colours and falling leaves on the Maunga.
It is ten years since the centre was officially opened by the then Prime Minister Helen Clark and in that time we have had the privilege of hosting forty residencies for New Zealand writers and run a raft of writing programmes.

We have been working on some improvements to the interior of the centre by way of new curtains and having some painting done. It feels good to be improving the house for our writers.

May is an exciting month for writing in Aotearoa with the Ockham Awards and the Auckland Writers Festival. We were proud to have some of our alumni nominated for both the long and shortlists – those included were Sarah Laing, Vincent O’ Sullivan, Chris Price and Frankie McMillan (our current University of Auckland/MKWC resident).  Vivienne Plumb was also involved as a judge for the poetry award.

One of our past trustees, Peter Simpson, was on the shortlist for his book Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953. Also on the shortlist was our upcoming Early Summer Residency recipient Anthony Byrt for his book This Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art. Warm congratulations to all nominated writers and the various category winners. We love your work.

Read on for more news and information …

Tania Stewart

May image strip

Recollections of Michael King

We are keen to hear from people who knew or met Michael King and would like to send us a note of their recollections of him. Here are the latest recollections from two of our trustees…

I am looking at the curled and fading photos on the wall of Frank’s Sargeson’s bach, and in so many of the photos there is Michael.  I remember so many of those gatherings.  So many times Michael would surprise me when he met at a later time and he would take up the conversation where we had left off and he had retained the little details of discussion.

I first met Michael in 1972 when I was a student in Wellington.  One of my flatmates, Fran Allen, knew Michael and Judy McGregor at Waikato University.   A friend of a friend was a friend of Michael’s, so Fran and I were almost immediately invited to a party at Michael’s. It was such a refreshing change to go to a real house with pottery and hand woven fabrics and to meet people of all age groups after socialising mainly with other students.


NEWS - What has been happening?

Young Writers Programme Update

On March 17, 28 students enjoyed a workshop on Writing as Protest with Ali Ikram and Toby Morris. They gained an insight into the skills of journalism and comic artistry that the two presenters use in their respective work to convince audiences about subjects about which they are passionate.
On Friday June 2, the Young Writers Programme will take 20 students to the Tate Nudes Exhibition, "The Body Laid Bare", at the Auckland Gallery. Chris Price of the IIML will take a workshop on Poetry and Art.

The last workshop of the year will be at Massey University, Albany Campus, with the twin focus of Film and Fiction. Guests will be Tina Makereti (the novel) and Matt Harris (the short film). Emails about this workshop will go out to school staff in mid-June.

Ros Ali (Programme Co-ordinator)

The Poetry Project

Poetry Project May 2017The Poetry Project kicked off our 2017 programming at Birkdale Intermediate with 60 enthusiastic Year 7 and 8 students. The workshops focused on Matariki and writing poems about celebration by exploring the five senses. The Poetry Project welcomed Ken Arkind to the programme to teach the three part workshop series. Ken is a published author, American poetry slam champion, and a teaching artist with a decade of experience teaching workshops around the world.

The Poetry Project will bring poetry writing workshops to eight schools in the greater Auckland area focusing on the topics of Matariki and Our Place Our Maunga.

-- Carrie Rudzinski (Programme Co-ordinator)

Alumni Catch-up

Since Ian Wedde held the University of Auckland/MKWC Residency in 2009 he has gone on to be awarded an ONZM in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in 2011 was made New Zealand Poet Laureate. He was awarded the Creative New Zealand Writer’s Residency in Berlin in 2013–14, and in 2014 received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (poetry).

Ian’s latest book, Selected Poems, has just been published. This impressive collection of poetry shows the prolific nature of one of New Zealand’s favourite poets, ranging over four decades. This is the largest collection of Ian’s poems to date. The book’s cover and internals feature original art by famed New Zealand artist, John Reynolds.

Elspeth Sandys, who held the autumn Residency last year, has produced her ninth novel, Obsession. The title refers to both several intense relationships in the book, and also the obsession that goes into writing for a living. Listen to an interview with Elspeth about the book and about a writer’s obsession with writing…'-magnificent-obsession

Paolo Rotondo was awarded the NZSA/Auckland Museum 2015 Research Grant. Paolo said ‘This amazing opportunity allowed me to garner a breadth of invaluable historical research at the Auckland museum Library. At the Michael King Writer’s Centre I was able to consolidate and work through the historical material and generate another draft’.

Two years in the making, Kororāreka combines the storytelling skill of Paolo Rotondo and the theatrical flair of Red Leap (The Arrival, Dust Pilgrim), led with the astute eye of Artistic Director Julie Nolan.

Kororareka - Red Leap Theatre

In 2012 Te Awhina Arahanga held the Māori writer's residency at the Michael King Writer's Centre. One of her residency projects was to research the social history of fish and chips. The resulting book is to be called Two Fish and a Scoop: A Social History of Fish and Chips in New Zealand.  Listen to an interview with Jesse Mulligan about the progress of the project....

Tracy Farr is a writer and former research scientist who grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She left Australia in 1991; since then she’s lived and worked in Canada and, for the past twenty years, New Zealand. She lives in Wellington. Tracy has been a visiting writer at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Her second novel, The Hope Fault, was published (Australia/NZ) in March, and will be published by Aardvark Bureau (UK) in 2018.

The Hope Fault is a celebration of the complexities of family: aunties and steps and exes; parents and partners who are missing, and the people who replace them. It’s about life’s fault lines, and the unsettling certainty of uncertainty.

  Writing Excellence

The Michael King Writers’ Centre thanks its funders and partners, including Creative New Zealand, the Devonport Takapuna Local Board, Auckland Council, Foundation North, the Lion Foundation, the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust and the Chisholm Whitney Family Charitable Trust.

Signalman's House, Mount Victoria, Devonport, Auckland 0624, New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 32 629, Devonport, Auckland 0744. Phone/fax: 09 445 8451

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