Renée is a playwright, novelist, non-fiction writer and teacher. She has taught at Whitireia for six years in the creative writing programme. In 2007 she was a student on the poetry course taught by Lynn Davidson. The first drafts of these poems were written around that time. Her play, Shall We Gather at the River, opens at the Otago Festival of the Arts in November 2010. Currently, she is working on a novel.
Michele Amas is a poet and actress and sometimes mentor. Her book After the Dance (Victoria University Press, 2006) was shortlisted for the Best First Book of Poetry in the Montana Awards in 2007 and the Prize in Modern Letters in 2008. She is currently living, writing and swimming in the south of France courtesy of her partner Ken Duncum, who is the New Zealand Post Mansfield Fellow this year.
Tusiata Avia is a poet, performer and writer. Her solo stage show, Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, premiered in New Zealand in 2002 and has since toured in Austria, Germany, Hawai’i, Australia, Bali and Russia. Her first collection of poetry also titled Wild Dogs Under My Skirt was published by Victoria University Press in 2004 and shortlisted for the Prize in Modern Letters in 2006. Her latest book of poetry, Bloodclot, was published in 2009 (again by Victoria University Press). She held the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency at the University of Hawai’i and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies artist residency in Christchurch in 2005. This year she is the Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury.
Jane Blaikie lives in Wellington where she edits an education magazine. She thought she’d stopped writing fiction while her parents were dying, but then realised some notes in her journal might be poems. These three are from a group of five, titled ‘Good grief’. She needs a new notebook.
Bronwyn Bryant started tutoring adult writing classes when she retired from primary school teaching in the ’90s. She treated herself to a year on the creative writing programme at Whitireia in 1999 and discovered a love of poetry. She gained a graduate diploma the following year. Some of her poetry can be found on the Manukau Library website and in assorted local publications, but in recent years she has become more grandmother than poet.
Kate Camp is the author of four collections of poetry all published by Victoria University Press: Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars (1998), Realia (2001), Beauty Sleep (2005) and The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls (2010). Her collection of essays on classic literature, Kate’s Klassics was published by Penguin in 2007 and is based on her monthly discussion of classic books with Radio New Zealand National’s Kim Hill.
Tessa Castree is a Wellingtonian who started short story writing this year, with help, she says, from the Whitireia creative writing programme. Tessa used to write and edit fairly boring documents for various government departments, but is now a social worker, and prefers her current job because it involves working with people.
Kay Corns completed her MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 2009. Her poems have previously appeared in 4th Floor Literary Journal, Turbine and Sport.
Mary-Jane Duffy’s poems have appeared in Millionaire’s Shortbread (Otago University Press, 2003) Sport and New Zealand Listener, as well as art publications Living by the Sea (Mahara Gallery, 2005) and Caught in this Sensual Music All: Works by Janet Paul (Fernbank Studio/City Gallery Wellington, 2000). She co-directs Mary Newton Gallery in Wellington and teaches on the Whitireia creative writing programme.
Holly Edgecombe was born in 1982, with a neuromuscular disorder which has left her unable to speak. She was educated in Christchurch, Kaiapoi and Waihi and spent some time in her early years learning to walk at the Peto Institute in Budapest, Hungary. For most of her school life, she was dual enrolled at her local school and also with Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – The Correspondence School. Holly enjoys using her computer; it’s her main form of communication. She has had several poems and stories published and intends to carry on improving her writing. She is currently studying creative writing at Whitireia.
Liz Elson was brought up in Hastings, Sussex (1066 country), and spent five years in the West Indies before coming to New Zealand in late 1971. She lived in Nelson from 1971 until 2009, when she retired to Wellington. You could say that her love of poetry, and good writing generally, was influenced by two people: her English teacher at high school and her father, whose usual response if he caught her reading comics, Enid Blyton or magazines was ‘get your head out of that rubbish!’ He introduced her to writers like H E Bates, Steinbeck, Hugo, Hemingway, and many others. Liz started studying for the Diploma in Creative Writing at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, and is hugely grateful that Whitireia cross credited the papers she achieved in Nelson and enabled her to complete the diploma here.
Anahera Gildea, Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-tonga, lives in Wellington and tries to write every day. Yesterday it was a shopping list and the day before that one solid page in her diary. Tomorrow’s, forged at the ‘word-smithy’, could be the opening paragraph of a recipe to make your heart stop.
Mathew is a first-year student in the Whitireia creative writing programme. He has degrees in film, screenwriting, post-production visual effects and an Honours in Fine Arts. His love of writing revolves around everyday society and the psychology of the human mind, with the main source of inspiration being people both historical and contemporary.
Mandy Hager lives in Wellington and tutors novel writing for Whitireia. Her book The Crossing (Random House, 2009), the first in her Blood of the Lamb trilogy, won the Young Adult section of the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. The second book, Into the Wilderness (Random House, 2010), was released this year and book three, Resurrection, which contains this excerpt, is due for publication in 2011.
Helen Heath lives in the seaside village of Paekākāriki, on the Kapiti Coast. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 2009. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand and Australia. Most recently she’s had a chap-book of poems published by Seraph Press called Watching for Smoke (2009). Helen also blogs at helenheath.com.
Adrienne Jansen writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, exhibition labels (in her work at Te Papa), and bits and pieces of writing courses (in her work at Whitireia). She lives in Titahi Bay with her family.
Until 2003, Lynn Jenner worked as an educational psychologist and counsellor, and read a lot. In 2004 and 2007 she studied writing at Whitireia. In 2008 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, winning the Adam Foundation Prize in creative writing the same year. Dear Sweet Harry, the book which grew out of that portfolio, was published by Auckland University Press in 2010. Lynn is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters.
Karen Peterson Butterworth is a writer and grandmother who lives in Ōtaki. Her writings have appeared in literary journals in six countries, as well as in New Zealand anthologies, and her five published books. Her literary awards include the 2001 Bank of New Zealand Essay Award (which was then one of the Katherine Mansfield memorial awards). Recently she co-edited, with Nola Borrell, the taste of nashi: New Zealand haiku (Windrift Haiku Group, 2008). Karen studied poetry with Lynn Davidson at Whitireia’s Lindale campus in 2008.
Vivienne Plumb writes poetry, drama and fiction. Her popular play, The Cape, will have its fifth New Zealand production when it opens for a season at Centrepoint Theatre, Palmerston North, during August and September 2010, and her new poetry collection, Crumple, will be published during 2010. ‘Intercity’ was first published in JAAM 27 (2009); ‘Doggie Bones’ has been previously published in the Dominion Post, Wellington, in The Infinity We Swim In (New Zealand Poetry Society, 2007), in Pogranicza 3 (2006, translated into Polish), and in Döppelganger (No. 9, ESAW miniseries, 2006).
Maggie Rainey-Smith is the author of two novels About Turns (2005) and Turbulence (2007, both Random House), a published poet and short story writer, who writes occasional book reviews on Beattie’s Book Blog. She won the Page & Blackmore short story competition in 2007, judged by Owen Marshall, and was shortlisted in 2004 for the Landfall essay and Takahe Cultural Studies competition. Her short stories and poetry have been published in Sport, Takahe, New Zealand Listener, New Zealand Books and Radio New Zealand National.
Long-time Kapiti Coast resident Tina Regtien has spent twenty-four years as an actor, several as a teacher, ten as a parent and many more as a student of writing. She started this journey with Whitireia back in 2001 and has also studied poetry through the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.
Mennie Scapens lives at Te Puna on the edge of the Tauranga Harbour. A recently retired primary school principal, she now has the time to explore her love of words and writing. To assist her writing career, she plans to join the local branch of Procrastinators Anonymous, although hasn’t managed to get around to this yet.
Lorraine Singh completed a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitireia in 2009 where her tutors were Lynn Davidson and Hinemoana Baker. Lorraine has had poems published online in 4th Floor (2007, 2009); Blackmail Press 25 the Rebel Issue (2009). Also in the Paekakariki Xpressed (2007) and was highly commended in the Wellington Sonnet competition (Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop, 2008).
Elizabeth Smither is a poet, novelist and short story writer. Her latest publications are The Year of Adverbs (AUP, 2007), The Girl who Proposed (Cape Catley Ltd, 2008) and Lola (Penguin, 2010). She received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2008.
Robert Stratford works part-time in the public service and divides his other time between writing, family and the outdoors. Robert has not written much poetry in the last few years, after finishing off a Masters thesis, working on a novel and looking after three small children. He has a range of eclectic interests in his writing, from the swagmen of New Zealand’s past to the dangers of getting married on another planet.
Jo Thorpe graduated from the Whitireia creative writing programme in 1998. She gained her MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 2001 and her first book of poetry, Len & other poems, was published by Steele Roberts in 2003. Jo is also a dance writer and critic, teaches dance history at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington and dances with the Crows Feet Dance Collective. She and her architect partner share five daughters and five grandchildren.
Since completing a Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitireia in 2009, Mercedes has been participating in the International Institute of Modern Letters’ MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University. Her poems have appeared in Turbine (2008), 4th Floor (2009), Reconfigurations (2009) as well as in ezines and print collections, and Mercedes was the overall winner of the 2010 Eat Your Words poetry competition. She reads at various open mic sessions in Wellington, including Lembas Café in Raumati South, and the Ballroom Café in Newtown.
Tony Yuile lives in Wellington with his wife and cat. He arrived in New Zealand from England twenty-five years ago, shortly after qualifying as an accountant. He planned to return home after two years but instead fell in love with New Zealand and his future wife. When he’s finished adding up numbers for the day he goes home and locks himself away in the study to write. Writing is his passion and he dreams of giving up his day job to write fiction full-time. Currently he’s working on the draft of his second novel – a thriller.