Devonport resident Helen Sword is a scholar, teacher, artist and poet who has published widely on modernist literature, higher education pedagogy, digital poetics, and academic writing. Born and raised in Southern California, she is now an Associate Professor in the Centre for Academic Development at the University of Auckland. Helen is a passionate advocate of creativity and craftsmanship in scholarship, teaching, and the arts. With poet Michele Leggott, she was co-recipient of the University of Auckland’s 2007 Teaching Excellence Award for Innovation in Teaching, and her popular workshops on stylish academic writing have taken her to universities in North America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and all over New Zealand. Her books include Engendering Inspiration (1995), Ghostwriting Modernism (2002), The Writer’s Diet (2007), Pacific Rim Modernisms (co-edited 2009) and Stylish Academic Writing (forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2012). Her digital poetry can be found at The Stoneflower Path.
Helen writes: “As a Devonport local, I used to walk up Mount Victoria past the old signalman’s house and think to myself, ‘Now that would be a great place to write!’ I had developed a habit of escaping to Waiheke Island for solo writing retreats in a dilapidated bach; one December when the bach was not available to rent, I had a sudden brainstorm: Why not go to the Michael King Writer’s Centre instead? Since then I’ve spent a week or two ‘up the mountain’ on four separate occasions, each time sharing the house with a different writer-in-residence: Dick Corballis, Vincent O’Sullivan, Ian Wedde, Rachel Barrowman. I’ve savoured the quiet, the view, the warm hospitality of Karren and Tania, the time away from the distractions of family life – and I’ve written pages and pages on whatever project I’ve been working on. It is a magical place.”