Mandy Hager has kept up her cracking pace having just published her sixth novel in seven years. And again she’s chosen to explore current issues – this time suicide – in a story that’s not afraid to go to the dark places but is ultimately uplifting.
Editor, well known poet and musician Hinemoana Baker, says "A 20th anniversary is a very special occasion.
In what is turning into a bonanza month, Mandy’s novel was also named as a ‘Notable Book’ by the Storylines Literature Trust, as was another book, Iris’s Ukulele, by former student Kathy Taylor.
Among the 500 Whitireia graduating students in
March were several Creative Writing students celebrating creativity, craft and
a whole lot of hard work.
Richard Anderson, graduating with an Advanced Diploma in Creative
Writing says “I felt I’d really accomplished something I was proud of.”
“I had my doubts about whether I would be eligible but thought I'm
going to apply for funding in the future, so now's a good time to practise. Plus
I thought what the hell! To actually get one is a huge thing and a great
confidence boost,” he says.
Fred Sao, who also graduated this year, was featured in Wellington’s
daily paper, the DomPost,
celebrating his movement from being illiterate to graduating with a Bachelor
of Applied Arts in Creative Writing.
Scriptwriting graduates Becca Barnes and Alwyn Dale have surfaced in this year’s Wellington Fringe Festival, with a play they say “You'll be particularly interested in if you like mermaids, physical comedy, and of course, puns”.
And the plot line? Well, Vee and Hamish didn't expect to fall for each other. But she loves his hairy man legs. And he loves her slippery mermaid fins. They just couldn't help themselves. Now their forbidden union has defied nature and spawned an egg. Banished from the ocean for their sins, Vee and Hamish are cast into the deep end of parenthood.
Is Wellington ready for this unnatural family?
A poem about Cuba Street’s bucket fountain, and a coffee receipt stuck on a lapel, has won writer Briar Davies writer first place in the Eat Your Words Wellington café poetry competition for 2012.
Wellington poet Hinemoana Baker judged the competition, and was faced with the daunting task of picking the winners from 360 entries.
She said of the winning poem, Downpour, that it captures, "with few words and no fuss, that beautiful moment that all Wellingtonians must know so well: you step out through the door of your favourite haunt, and in a heartbeat you're thoroughly drenched!"
What price can you put on a poem? On National Poetry Day pedestrians in Cuba Mall, Wellington, discovered art does in fact pay – and the currency is cookies.
Friday lunchtime in the middle of winter was a winner with over a hundred poems created by passers-by who spotted the “Cookie for a Poem” stall, staffed by students and a tutor on the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme. All poems were then entered in the Eat Your Words poetry competition.
This unique event fitted perfectly with the aim of National Poetry Day. “National Poetry Day isn’t just for established poets; it’s also for people who simply want to give poetry a go”, said National events organiser and published poet, Siobhan Harvey.
SCRIPTWRITERS LEARN ABOUT FREUD AND
FILM INDUSTRY OPPORTUNITIES
Scriptwriting tutor, Steve Barr, says, “The Freudian concepts of id, ego, and superego can help scriptwriters understand each character's internal conflicts, as well as creating dramatic group dynamics.”
Steve Barr, Scriptwriting tutor
The scriptwriting class, which meets one day a week, involves students completing a full-length script by the end of the year. Students also get to hear from those involved in the industry. Lisa Chatfield and Sam Burt from the NZ Film Commission spoke to them recently about the Fresh Shorts programme, and Donna Banicevich Gera (Scriptwriting tutor on the first year of the Creative Writing Programme) spoke about writing documentaries.
GRAEME TETLEY'S GENEROUS LIBRARY GIFT
Former Scriptwriting tutor, the late Graeme Tetley, left a generous gift to current and future writing students on the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme, when he bequeathed his library of over 1,000 books.
The collection covers an extensive range of topics, including many New Zealand books and some quite personal selections, says Mary-Jane Duffy, Creative Writing Programme Coordinator.
Now, thanks to former student Liz Elson, the library is being installed in the Dixon St campus. “It’s a wonderful collection. I’ve had to discipline myself to focus on the job and not sit down for a good read!” she says.
Liz Elson sets up Graeme Tetley's library
Graeme’s favourite authors include James K. Baxter and American poet and essayist, Adrienne Rich. There are also many books on story, including the stories of religion and Joseph Campbell’s approach to story.
“We’re honoured and grateful to the Tetley family for the gift,” says Mary-Jane. “It’ll be a great resource for students on the Creative Writing Programme.”
Creative Writers Graduate in Style
Graduation Day 2012 created a buzz as 700 graduates gathered at Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua to celebrate successfully completing their studies.
In amongst the throng were 34 Creative Writing students graduating with a mixture of diplomas, advanced diplomas, graduate diplomas and degrees.
Diploma in Creative Writing graduate Amanda Rangi-Nunn says it was a special moment going up on stage in front of friends and family.
Creative Writing Graduates: (L-R) Adele Chapman, Amanda Rangi-Nunn, David Watkins.
“It was great to hear everyone clap and commend the hard work I’d put in throughout the year. The recognition from everyone at Whitireia, as well as the special guest speakers, made it that much more special,” she says.
At the end guests and graduates were treated to one of 1,600 cupcakes made to mark the graduation, and to celebrate Whitireia being in the number one position for qualification completion (student success). This top ranking was achieved ahead of 19 other Institutes of Technology or Polytechnics in New Zealand and highlighted in the Performance of Tertiary Education Organisations Report released by the Tertiary Education Commission.
Staff and Students perform at mobile literary festival
Staff and students from Wellington’s three creative writing programme’s shared poetry, prose and script excerpts at the capital’s first ‘mobile literary festival’ event.
The Nature of Ash, which is due out from Random House in June. “The scene I read from is where Ashley, the main character, takes his Down Syndrome brother Mikey to view their father at the hospital morgue after he’s been blown up in a terrorist attack.”
Scriptwriting tutor, Donna Banicevich Gera (left) read a monologue from her one woman show, My Name is Ruhi, a play set in a small New Zealand rural community in the early 20th century.
Photos courtesy of the Goethe-Institut New Zealand
Award winning Creative Writing Tutor
Creative Writing Tutor, Anna Taylor, received a writer’s dream when she was awarded one of two Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowships recently. Thanks to the Fellowship she'll be able to hide away from distractions at the Sargeson Centre in central Auckland for five months in the second half of the year.
|| Anna tutors on the online short fiction and non-fiction courses on the Creative Writing Programme. “I feel incredibly privileged to be given this opportunity. Time and money are the two major obstacles when it comes to fitting writing into my life. |
"This fellowship eases the financial pressure [it comes with a $20,000 grant], as well as providing space and solitude to get words down on paper,” she says.
Anna will spend her time writing the second draft of a collection of three linked novellas.
Becoming a graphic novelist
Some people write. Some people draw. Others bring both together in the genre now called the ‘graphic novel’.
Tim Gibson and Sarah Hunn relished the opportunity to learn more about this creative form when they attended a short course by Graphic Novelist Dylan Horrocks’, run through the Creative Writing Programme over the summer.
Before attending, Tim had already received support from Creative New Zealand to create an online graphic novel called 'Moth City'.
“The timing of the course was perfect for me. I was able to talk to Dylan about specific challenges I'm facing, and ways to look at and solve problems. And also talk about the general reality of being a professional 'comic books guy'.”
|| Sarah Hunn, a first year student on the full-time creative writing course this year, says with her new-found knowledge she plans to self-publish at least two 8-page illustrated poetry books. “If I continue to grow in the comic style I may even translate some of my short stories into comics,” she says.|
The work of New Zealand’s most prolific screenplay writer, the late Graeme Tetley, can be seen through the fresh stories of his students in the recently launched book, First Act.
Screenwriting students (L-R) James Henley, Ness Simons, Gaylene Preston (launching the book), Rebecca Barnes and Alwyn Dale.
Ness Simons, one of the writers featured, says she felt lucky to be part of a book that honours Graeme’s contribution. “It’s also about Whitireia supporting us to go and be writers. I feel the biggest tribute I can give Graeme is to stay dedicated to my story, to keep writing and rewriting, to one day have my film on the screen.”
Copies of First Act are available from the Creative Writing Programme at Whitireia New Zealand for $25.
It’s a classic New Zealand story – a fantail, a rat, a morepork and the bush – strikingly illustrated and told in a deceptively simple way. And Fantail’s Quilt is already receiving great reviews from children’s authors and leading booksellers.
Gay Hay, the book’s author and also a former teacher, wrote the story as a student on the online Writing for Children course at Whitireia.
“When I was teaching I saw that little children wanted to know facts, but most books are too wordy."
| Cover illustration from Margaret Tolland's paintings|
"I saw the reaction of children to a photo of a rat taking eggs from a fantail’s nest, and that’s where the idea came from.”
Gay’s family, and tutor Julia Wall, encouraged her to see the story through. Now, thanks to a collaboration with Porirua-based artist and educator, Margaret Tolland, readers are treated to a detailed look at a favourite native bird and its habitat, complemented by a story that uses the bare minimum of words to build tension and interest.
Fantail’s Quilt is also a Whitireia story – written by a former student, illustrated by a former student (and tutor) and project managed by students on the Whitiriea Publishing Course.
Scripts come to life
Thanks to a great match-up of budding writers with budding actors, students from two programmes now have a greater insight into their craft.
Having a script read aloud is invaluable for any writer, says scriptwriting tutor Donna Banicevich Gera, but it’s especially useful when you’re a student learning about scriptwriting.
| Stage and Screen students doing a read-through of Writing Course student, Lucy McCahon's script.|
"A ‘read-through’ means a writer can pick up on lots of detail - things like does the script use too many words, are the characters’ actions congruent with their dialogue, does the character’s motivation come through? This gives students lots of information to help make their scripts even better,” she says.
For Stage and Screen tutor Richard Finn the exercise gave his students great practice in reading plays out loud. “There’s real skill in that, plus a shared energy that comes from students learning together,” he says. “Besides which you never know when you might be rubbing shoulders with the next Peter Jackson or Fran Walsh!”
Recognizing The Power of Poetry
Anne Powell’s latest book of poetry, Tree of a Thousand Voices, was recently placed runner-up in the 2011 Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Literature Awards.
The Awards offer one of the country’s largest monetary prizes for literature and are for both budding and published writers whose work embodies the mind, body, spirit genre.
This year they received a remarkable number of written works, with 31 entries in the published book category, and 57 entries in the unpublished manuscript category.
This is the first year a book of poetry has been placed.
“I was delighted that the power of poetry was recognized,” says Anne. “I’m also really grateful for the grounding I was given on the poetry module at Whitireia several years ago. It gave me a focus for what I wanted to do and the fact that other people thought my writing was worthwhile really encouraged me to do more with it - more than just fill up notebooks!”
Celebrating words in all their diversity
Music and poetry combined for a class act at Te Papa recently when current and former Writing Programme students performed an eclectic mix of poems, ably accompanied by tutors from the Whitireia Music Programme.
| Holly Ewens, former Writing Programme student and performer at Word Up
|| Fred Sao, Writing Programme student in full flight|
“It was a wonderful opportunity to hear stunning work,” said Kaye Jujnovich, Faculty of Arts Dean, after the hour long performance of Word Up: New Generation Writing.
Award-winning author began at whitireia
Seven years ago Lynn Jenner had written very little and was just beginning as a student on the first year of the Whitireia Writing Programme.
Now she is undertaking her PhD in Creative Writing and celebrating the success of her book Dear Sweet Harry
which has just won the 2011 NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry. That success builds on her MA year where Dear Sweet Harry
(then in manuscript form) won the Adams Foundation Prize for Creative Writing.
“Without Whitireia, in particular year one of the Writing Programme, I wouldn’t have got started. I can remember the first day of the course when we were given a writing exercise and told to ‘write something in this moment’.
“Those words were like a flash of lightning – I knew this was going to be a really different style of teaching than I’d experienced years ago when I did a degree in English. We weren’t going to be talking
about writing, we were going to be doing it.
“The course was really inclusive with students coming from lots of different backgrounds. It was great because it felt like it was okay to be a beginner
. It was useful to be able to sample writing in different genres and we learned journaling too, which I continue to use all the time.”
In the second year of the Writing Programme Lynn concentrated on poetry and was connected up with a mentor. More
Flexible learning for poets and children's writers
Now is your chance to enrol
in the next round of online courses on the Whitireia Writing Programme – in particular Writing for Children and Poetry. The deadline for applications is July 15th, and the term begins on July 18th.
module is written by James Brown and is tutored by well known poet Hinemoana Baker. Writing for Children
is written by Adrienne Jansen and Joy Cowley, and tutored by experienced children’s writer Julia Wall.
Rachel Sawaya who graduated with a Diploma in Creative Writing (online) this year, says:
“The online Diploma at Whitireia really increased the depth of my writing. Because the course was distance-learning, I could work at my own pace. The tutors were really supportive and I got to know them and the other online students well - it was a brilliant course."
Rachel says it was great being able to communicate with tutors who also have that real ‘industry’ experience. Rachel is now completing her MA in creative writing at Victoria University.
To apply for either of the modules you will also need to send in a sample of your writing, a brief statement about why you want to do the course and your CV.
Poetry students on the first year programme at Whitireia discovered a whole new side to short lyrical phrases when they met up with musician and Whitireia Music Tutor, Dan Adams recently.
“I thought song writing was easy, but Dan explained how you use lots of different art forms to create lyrics for a really good song – you need to have hook lines that lure the listener in, and also create ‘bridges’ and an effective chorus,” says Lance Uluilelata.
Lucy McCahon says, "We learnt that lyrics have to work with a whole lot of other things that are happening in the music. Even though it’s different from writing poetry, it fits well with what we’re learning on the poetry module at the moment – looking closely at words, especially syllable counts.”
Each student had to write lyrics for an existing song, and the day ended with Dan singing those lyrics back to the students.
“Even though the day was brief, it was amazing to learn so much,” says Lance.
‘STORY WATER’ AND WRITING ENCOURAGEMENT
There is nothing like public recognition when you’re doing the hard work of writing fiction, and several Whitireia Writing students (current and former) got to savour that sweet taste when they were shortlisted for the Pikihuia Awards recently.
Helen Waaka (right) and Olivia Giles (left) are currently students on the Writing a Novel course at Whitireia.
“Being short-listed in the Pikihuia Awards and having my stories published in Huia’s short story collection has been a dream of mine since I wrote my first story four years ago,” says Helen.
“It felt like the words used in that story had been stored in my head for years, much like water is stored in a dam. Being at Whitireia allows that ‘story water’ as I call it, to flow and find its way out. ”
For Olivia, the encouragement and feedback offered by her writing group, were vital in her entering the competition.
“We writers are very internal creatures. We need our work to be looked at in a safe way before it goes out. If it wasn’t for the women in my writing group, their encouragement, feedback also the fact they workshopped the piece before I sent it in, this wouldn’t have happened.”
As well as Helen and Olivia, five former students on the Writing Programme were shortlisted - Raschel Miette, KT Harrison, Anahera Gildea, Ann French, and Mark Sweet.
The Award ceremony will be held in August.
New location for Whitireia Writing
|The Writing Programme has moved into the Whitireia Wellington City Campus, located at level 1, 107 Cuba St, in the buzzing Cuba Mall.
The programme is now part of the Whitireia NZ Media Training Centre which was launched by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Steven Joyce on May the 12th. It will sit alongside the publishing, journalism and radio training programmes also offered in the building.
As part of the launch, Mary-Jane Duffy, Writing Programme Course Coordinator read out a poem by Tusiata Avia. Tusiata, a highly acclaimed Samoan/New Zealand performance poet and children’s writer, is a former student from the programme and her poem Ode to life was well received.
AWARDS BRING OPPORTUNITIES
Ness Simons, online scriptwriting tutor, is on a roll with exciting possibilities opening up in several areas. As well as tutoring at Whitireia, Ness is a student at the NZ Film and Television School and recently won their Robin Laing Scholarship. The $2000 prize is awarded by WIFT (Women in Film and Television) in association with the School and aims to support an emerging female film maker who will make a significant contribution to the industry.
"It’s great to have the acknowledgement and support of WIFT. It affirms my decision that this is the industry I want to work in,” says Ness. “I plan to use the money to purchase software essential to the role I want to take in the industry, either that or put it towards the budget for a short film project I plan to shoot in the next twelve months."
Receiving the award follows closely on the heels of being put forward as the American Embassy's New Zealand nominee for the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop. The ten week workshop was established in 1936 and caters to writers working in a range of genres such as poetry, novel and scriptwriting. There is tough competition from around the world with over a hundred applications received for each place on the course and Ness has her fingers crossed she will be chosen to attend the course in August. Whitireia online poetry tutor, Hinemoana Baker, was the successful New Zealand nominee in 2011.
And to cap that off Ness has also ‘won’ the opportunity (as part of the 1st Writers Initiative) to work with highly regarded film producer Philippa Campbell (producer of Via Satellite, and No. 2, plus internationally acclaimed coming of age tale Rain and comedy horror Black Sheep).
"A couple of years ago I decided to pursue writing more seriously and while it has been a pretty big change in terms of career it's exciting to have the opportunities that have come my way as a result of these awards. For me it's a case of getting stuck into the projects I'm working on and continue to develop the craft of writing," she says.
DON’T DELAY FOR SECOND SEMESTER COURSES
Don’t miss out on your chance to enroll in the Writing Programme’s second semester range of courses.
If you have a passion for writing, want to extend your work, or develop your versatility as a freelance writer, there’s plenty on offer -
Short Fiction I
is an intensive, practical writing course, balancing imagination and craft.
Short Fiction II
is for the fiction writer who wants to be challenged in technical skill and imagination.
provides an introduction to the craft of visual writing, and the requirements of a screenplay.
The core teaching material for Writing for Children
comes from internationally renowned children's author Joy Cowley.
By the end of the Poetry
module you will have a portfolio of work and a good understanding of critiquing poetry.
gives you the chance to learn the skills to write a feature article for a magazine, a proposal for a non-fiction book, write a portion of your memoirs, and write for the web.
Don’t miss out - enrolments can be done online
and involve supplying samples of your writing. They need to be in during June.
Success for Whitireia Children’s Writers
Awards and writing success have been flavour of the month for Whitireia children’s writers. Kathy Taylor won the sought after Tom Fitzgibbon Award for fiction writing aimed at 7-13 year olds. “It’s hugely exciting,” she says, "and it means my novel Iris's Ukulele will be published next year by Scholastic."
“I couldn’t have done it without the Whitireia course. The technical knowledge I gained around structuring a longer work was invaluable, as was the support from tutors, mentors and other students.”
Two other former students are also celebrating writing achievements this month. Ragne Maxwell was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon Award and is now using the judges’ comments to work on her manuscript. Ragne says she originally wanted to write for younger children but after sampling different genres on the Writing for Children course, realized it was novels for children she wanted to write. “The course helped me discover where my talents really lay,” she says.
For Hugh Brown, who won the inaugural Tessa Duder Award for a Young Adults manuscript from a previously unpublished writer, the mentoring support he received from Mandy Hagar on the Whitireia Writing a Novel course was invaluable. Now he’s looking forward to having his book, Tales from the Quadmire, published. “Winning the award is a great affirmation of being a writer” he says “and the guarantee of publication of my book is a huge boost to continue
GRADUATION AND BEYOND
At the ‘best ever’ Whitireia graduation last week, 38 creative writing students received diplomas and degrees, celebrating their success on a brilliantly sunny day in Porirua.
For Allison Wakelin, who graduated with a Bachelor in Applied Arts (Creative Writing), the next step is the United States.
She's pursuing her writing dreams at the University of Alabama, where she'll be doing a BA in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in radio and television.
Olivia Giles with her brother Hone McGregor
|| For Olivia Giles, who graduated with a Diploma in Creative Writing (Advanced), it’s come at the same time as writing success in another area. She’s just been awarded a place in Huia Publisher’s mentoring scheme, giving her the opportunity to work on the draft of her novel and get it to publishable standard. Olivia is also completing the third year of a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Creative Writing). |
March 18, 2011
LOSS OF A GENEROUS AND WELL RESPECTED MENTOR
Staff and students on the Writing Programme were saddened to hear of the recent death of Graeme Tetley, Lecturer in Scriptwriting at Whitireia.
Graeme was one of New Zealand's leading scriptwriters, with credits including Out of the Blue, Bread and Roses, Ruby and Rata, Vigil and the 2008 telemovie After-Shock.
Graeme taught a short course in the early years of the Whitireia Writing Programme and returned in 2008 to teach a full year's course on feature film writing for 2nd and 3rd year degree students.
“We always felt privileged to have Graeme contributing to our courses,” says Programme Manager, Pip Byrne. “He had a gift for teaching and would impart wonderful insights on the craft of writing.”
Students remember those abilities well:
Mike Benson says, “It hits us all hard that he's gone. Two years was not long enough, but I'm grateful for the time I had with him. He gave so much and has been such an important support for me, and my work, which I now have no excuse not to finish!”
Mar 11, 2011
HIGH ENROLMENTS FOR 2011
Aspiring novelists, poets, screenwriters, children’s authors and short story writers have enrolled in high numbers on the Creative Writing Programme for 2011.
Seventy seven students are enrolled across the programme’s full and part-time classes, offered both in the classroom and online.
As that new “batch” of students settle in, five students who graduated last year are gearing up to do their Masters in Creative Writing at Victoria University, and they have no doubts about the benefits of their time at Whitireia.
Journalist Kate Simpkins says stumbling across Mandy Hager, lecturer in Writing the Novel at Whitireia, was “like hitting creative writing workshop gold”.
“Mandy Hager is a terrific teacher: she understands the craft of fiction writing very well and is incredibly generous with her knowledge. I’d been prevaricating about working on my novel and the course meant it was an infinitely better story at the end than it had been at the beginning.”
Another former Whitireia student who is about to begin her Masters at Victoria, Natasha Dennerstein, says “Whitireia is a terrific course. In the first year you get the chance to explore different genres. Each one teaches you about different aspects of writing – for example scriptwriting helps with dialogue. The other thing I loved about the course was the diversity of the people on it – diverse in terms of ethnicity and life experience.”
Creative Writing Programme Course Coordinator, Mary-Jane Duffy, says flexibility is another key component of the programme. “Students can begin part-time and see how they find the study and time commitment. Some continue part-time and others change to full-time. With online options, people can study from home and this year one person is even studying from Kenya.
“Our enrolment numbers tell us that would-be writers understand the value of studying the craft of writing at Whitireia. Tutors offer students practical ways to hone their skill with words, stretch their imagination, and understand the business of writing. Put that together with a supportive writing environment and you’ve got a great mix,” she says.
Sam Hunt loves Creative Writing @ Whitireia
It’s not every day you get a well known poet singing your praises, but that’s what happened late last year when Sam Hunt was having a yarn on KiwiFM.
Former Whitireia Creative Writing student, Lynn Jenner, had sent Sam her book of poems, and In the middle of talking about the poems and Lynn’s time on the Creative Writing Programme, Sam handed out his accolade telling listeners “Whitireia in Porirua has great vitality and does great stuff”.
And rumour has it that Sam’s on a bit of a Whitireia Writing roll. When he performed at Wellington’s Summer City in the Botanical Gardens a couple of weeks ago, he told the crowd he doesn’t generally like writing courses, but the Creative Writing Programme at Whitireia has something unique. Cheers for that Sam – we think so too!