International Institute of Modern Letters


On this page:

Biggs Prize and Project Scholarships winners announced

15 December 2014

MA in Creative Writing student Faith Wilson has won the 2014 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry with her manuscript Dolly Mix Tape, written as her Masters folio project.

The Prize, sponsored by Peter and Mary Biggs and awarded annually since 2006, recognises the potential of a graduating poet in Victoria's Masters in Creative Programme at the IIML.

The IIML also offers a number of annual project scholarships to MA in Creative Writing students who apply after completion of the final MA folio. Project scholarships are awarded by recommendation of the examiners. We are happy to announce that the following students have each won a $3,000 project scholarship to undertake further work on their folio projects:

Ines Almeida (memoir)

Judith Cowley (script)

Doug Dillaman (novel)

Anahera Gildea (novel)

Patrick Hunn (novel)

Rene Le Bas (script).


Back to top ^

Best film scripts awarded prizes at Victoria

15 December 2014

A Victoria University of Wellington Masters student has won the annual David Carson-Parker Embassy Prize in Scriptwriting for his feature film script The Sun At Night, set amid Wellington's youth and drug culture. 

Jack Barrowman, a Masters student in the Creative Writing programme at Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), received his $3,000 prize at a function last night.

The prize is awarded annually to the best script written in the Masters course in Creative Writing at the IIML. 

Victoria Scriptwriting Programme Director Ken Duncum describes Jack's script as devastating and compelling. It tells the story of Alex, barely past his teens, who wants to move forward with his life but is trapped in a constant cycle of using, and then recovering from, drugs and alcohol. When Alex discovers that a close friend of his is regularly plying young women with drugs to enable date rape, he struggles with the dilemma of how to stop him while maintaining his own addictive habit. 

The prize, funded through the Victoria University Foundation, was first established by the Embassy Theatre Trust, then funded by arts philanthropist the late David Carson-Parker. It is now supported through the generosity of Jeremy Commons. 

At the same function fellow MA scriptwriter Abby Howells was awarded the Brad McGann Filmwriting Award for her feature film script Standing Up, a road movie about two rival comedians forced to drive together from Auckland to Dunedin. 

The annual Brad McGann Prize of $2,000 was established in memory of Brad McGann, writer and director of iconic New Zealand feature film In My Father's Den.

For more information contact Ken Duncum on 04-463 6882 or

A media release issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications & Marketing. Kristina Keogh, Assistant Communications Adviser, can be contacted by emailing  or phoning (04) 463 5163 or 027 563 5163.

Back to top ^

Turbine 2014 goes live

9 December 2014

New writing from emerging and established writers and the latest graduates of Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) is featured in the 2014 edition of literary journal, Turbine. Read Turbine 2014 online.

The annual online journal offers a sampler of work by 2014 Master's students, alongside poetry and fiction extracts from internationally regarded writers such as Maike Wetzel from Germany, Lesley Wheeler from the United States, and award-winning Kiwi poets Lynn Jenner and Marty Smith.

Victoria University chaplain John Dennison contributes poems from a collection to be co-published in 2015 by Auckland University Press and Carcanet in the United Kingdom.

The 2014 Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence Hinemoana Baker talks to Fulbright scholar and poet Max Chapnick about her current project, whether her writing has an implicit or explicit political awareness, the joys of late-night writing, and the similarities between writing and looking after a dog.

Recordings by five poets bring their poems off the page, including work by the 2013 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry winner, Morgan Bach, whose first collection will be published by Victoria University Press in 2015.

Re-imaginings of Greek myth sit alongside geological analyses of Kapiti-coast soil types; a family recipe book provides a basis for an exploration into the Portuguese psyche; toilet humour, shipwrecks and Robert Redford mix with work on Fiji, Samoa and Pacific waves.

This edition of Turbine is characterised by themes of place, identity, safety, memory and connection.

Turbine continues to demonstrate the vigorous health of contemporary New Zealand poetry, and we can expect to see books by a number of the prose writers who appear here published in future.

Turbine 2014 was co-edited by Max L. Chapnick, Ben Egerton and Patrick Hunn.

For more information contact Chris Price on 04-463 5815 or

A media release issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications & Marketing. Kristina Keogh, Assistant Communications Adviser, can be contacted by emailing or phoning (04) 463 5163 or 027 563 5163.


Back to top ^

Young Adult novel wins 2014 Adam Prize

9 December 2014

A young adult novel, described by leading United Kingdom children's author Mal Peet as 'richly imagined, sinisterly futuristic and morally complex,' has been awarded the 2014 Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing. It marks the first time in the Prize's 18-year history that a young adult work has won.

Craig Gamble wrote the winning book, The Watch List, as part of his 2014 Master of Arts folio at Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML). He says receiving the Prize is a great, and humbling, honour.

'I'm completely blown away. This year spent in the MA programme has already been hugely rewarding.

'Being able to spend so much time thinking and talking about writing, and in the company of classmates and teachers who so deeply care about it, has been for me truly life-changing. I am very grateful to have had that experience.'

Craig has previously completed the Children's Writing workshop and the Young Adult Writing Workshop at the IIML.

Supported by Wellingtonians Denis and Verna Adam through the Victoria University Foundation, the $3,000 Adam Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding student in the Master of Arts in Creative Writing programme at the IIML.

The Watch List imagines what would happen in a crisis if the hero's sidekick had to take the lead. In a physically and morally dangerous city, its narrator has to come to terms with using everything at his disposal to survive.

Emily Perkins, a Senior Lecturer at the IIML and co-convenor of this year's Master’s programme, says she was completely drawn in to the exciting and emotionally rewarding story.

'Craig's writing is vivid and alive, with lots of thrilling action and a wonderfully-drawn teenage narrator navigating his increasingly frightening world with great heart. It will find a wide readership who will respond to the richly imagined setting, resonant characters and dramatic plot,' she says.

Carnegie Medal winner Peet, an examiner for Craig's thesis, says he was 'walloped between the eyes' by the novel.

'Events come thick and fast: this is a novel with its foot on the throttle most of the time… a story that has enormous energy and invention. I look forward to seeing it in print,' he says.

Previous Adam Foundation Prize recipients include acclaimed authors Eleanor Catton, Catherine Chidgey, Paula Morris and Ashleigh Young.

For more information contact Emily Perkins on 04-463 6905 or

A media release Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications & Marketing. Kristina Keogh, Assistant Communications Adviser, can be contacted by emailing or phoning (04) 463 5163 or 027 563 5163

Victoria University of Wellington: The number one university in New Zealand for research quality.

Back to top ^

Briar Grace-Smith to convene Writing for Theatre Workshop

26 November 2014

 Briar Grace-Smith (photograph by Mike White)

We are delighted to announce that Briar Grace-Smith will convene CREW 353 Writing for Theatre in second trimester (July-October) 2015.

Briar is of Ngā Puhi descent and is an award-winning writer of plays, screenplays, short fiction and television scripts. She was an inaugural recipient of the Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2000, and was the Victoria University / Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence in 2003. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria in 2008. Read about Briar's theatre, television and film writing credits.

Briar says: 'The joy derived from being a playwright comes not only from the writing, but from the collaboration with the creative team and the actors. it comes from feeling the energy in the space come to life when the audience arrives. It is the most human of mediums.

A play can be realised on a small budget, with nothing to hold you back but your own desire and determination to get the work made.

For myself, playwrighting hasn't only been a stepping stone into the realms of television and film - teaching me about character, structure and story - it's where my writing heart lies. It is the home that I will always come back to.'

Read about How to apply for undergraduate CREW workshops at the IIML.

Back to top ^

2015 Writer in Residence Announced

29 October 2014

We're delighted to announce that the 2015 Victoria University / Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence will be Tim Corballis. Tim has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria; winning the Adam Foundation Prize in 2000 for his MA thesis which became his first novel, Below (Victoria University Press, 2001). His subsequent novels Measurement (2002) and The Fossil Pits (2005) were also published by VUP. 

Tim held the Randall Cottage Writers' Residency in 2003 and the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency in 2005-6. He recently completed a PhD at the University of Auckland on aesthetic theory in the context of the Antipodes, and he sees this theoretical work as closely informing all of his creative practice.

Next year Tim will work mainly on a time-travel novel. His next book, a pair of novellas, will be published by VUP in 2015.

Applications for the annual Victoria / CNZ Writer in Residence open mid-year and close in late September for the following year's appointment. Writers of proven merit in any area of literary activity are invited to apply, provided they are normally resident in New Zealand or New Zealanders currently resident overseas. Enquiries about the residency may be made at any time, but a full role description and application will be available on the Current Vacancies page of Victoria's website when applications open each year.

Back to top ^

The Luminaries shortlisted for International Thomas Dylan Prize

10 September 2014

MA in Creative Writing graduate Eleanor Catton's second novel, The Luminaries (Victoria University Press / Granta), has been shortlisted for the 2014 International Thomas Dylan Prize; the world's biggest literary prize for young writers.

The Luminaries has already won the Man Booker Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, both in 2013, and in 2014 it won both the Fiction and People's Choice categories of the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Her first novel The Rehearsal (VUP / Granta, 2008), which she wrote as her MA in Creative Writing thesis, was also shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, among others.

The £30,000 International Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under. This year's shortlist includes poetry, prose and drama by writers of many nationalities, including the Jamaican-born, Scotland-based Kei Miller, who held a masterclass with MA in Creative Writing students at the IIML earlier this year, while he was a guest of the New Zealand Festival Writers Week.

Peter Stead, founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, said:

'Given the strength of our longlist, we judges knew that choosing a shortlist would be a difficult process.  In the end, seven wonderful works stood out. 

We are thrilled that a play written and performed in Wales and a Caribbean poet from Glasgow will be gracing the shortlist which also consists of two American writers and novelists from Ireland, England and New Zealand. 

Several of the books on the shortlist have already been honoured and this indicates the extent to which the International Dylan Thomas Prize has earned its place at the forefront of world literature.

We will be inviting to Swansea seven of the best writers in the world.'

The winner will be announced in November 2014.

Read the full shortlist and more about the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Back to top ^

The Luminaries Wins NZ Book Award for Fiction

29 August 2014

 Eleanor Catton has won both the Fiction and People's Choice categories of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards with her second novel, The Luminaries (Victoria University Press/ Granta UK, 2013).

An astrological murder mystery set in the West Coast town of Hokitika during the 1860s Gold Rush, The Luminaries won the Man Booker Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction in 2013.

The judging panel of this year's NZ Post Book Awards was convened by broadcaster Miriama Kamo and includes acclaimed New Zealand artist, Dick Frizzell; award-winning Radio New Zealand presenter Kim Hill; poet and novelist Elizabeth Smither; and literary critic Peter Simpson.

The panel described The Luminaries as 'sprawling, brilliant; there's a virtuosity to the work that affirms every accolade, that justifies all praise. Eleanor Catton is an extraordinary writer who has conducted a bold experiment and, in the tradition of great and celebrated risk-takers, it has paid off richly.'

The Poetry Award went to current NZ Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan for his latest collection Us, then, also published by VUP. The winners of the previously announced Best First Books of Fiction and Poetry, Amy Head and Marty Smith, both also published by VUP, received their awards at the ceremony.

Read the press release or download the 2014 NZ Post Book Awards Judges' Report (942 KB pdf)



Back to top ^

IIML Director and graduates on NZ Post Book Awards shortlist

23 July 2014

IIML Director Professor Damien Wilkins' seventh novel, Max Gate, and The Luminaries; the Man Booker Prize-winning second novel from MA in Creative Writing graduate Eleanor Catton, are finalists in the Fiction category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards. MA in Creative Writing graduate Marty Smith's debut collection Horse With Hat is a finalist in the Poetry category. Horse with Hat has already won the Awards' Best First Book of Poetry category.

All three books are published by Victoria University Press, which has five books on this year's shortlist. The winners will be announced on 27 August.

Max Gate (VUP 2013) revolves around the impending death of Thomas Hardy in 1928, and the fight for ownership of his legacy among family, friends, admirers and hangers on.

'This is Wilkins at his luminous best...Max Gate is a triumphant take on a literary heritage and on a period in history that resounds with contemporary concerns.'

–Anne Kennedy, Metro

Wilkins has previously won the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction with The Miserables and a number of his other books have won or been shortlisted for major prizes, including the Montana Medal for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. He was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in 2008, and was made and Arts Foundation Laureate in 2013. 

The Luminaries (VUP / Granta, 2013) is an astrological murder mystery set in the West Coast town of Hokitika during the 1860s Gold Rush. It has so far won the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction.

'A dazzling feat of a novel...a pastiche quite unlike anything I've come across, so graceful is its plotting and structure.'

–The Guardian

Catton graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria in 2007. Her previous novel The Rehearsal (VUP 2008) was written during her MA year at the IIML, under Damien Wilkins' supervision. It went on to win major New Zealand and international awards and, at last count, had been published in twelve languages.

Horse with Hat (VUP 2014) is the first collection from poet Marty Smith who graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria in 2003. She is one of two first-time authors on the poetry shortlist, alongside fellow VUP poet Caolinn Hughes.

'This is a simply beautiful book. Marty Smith’s poems are by turns quirky, sad, punchy, amusing, thought-provoking, and above all they provide a sense of time and place and family.'

Booksellers New Zealand

Read the Book Awards Press release and full list of finalists.

Back to top ^

Creative Writing Graduates Win NZ Post Book Awards Best First Books

16 July 2014

MA in Creative Writing graduates and first-time authors Amy Head and Marty Smith have won the New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Awards for fiction and  poetry respectively in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Both books were published by Victoria University Press, which has a total of five books on this year's shortlist.

Amy Head's Tough (VUP 2013) is a collection of stories set on the West Coast, past and present. Tough was included in the NZ Listener and Metro best book lists for 2013.

'...vividly brought to life and full of imaginative flourishes of minutely observed language.'
Guy Somerset, NZ Listener

'Head uses understatement to marvellous effect; Tough is tenderness by other means.'
Murray Bramwell, NZ Books

Announcing Tough as the winner of the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for fiction, the judges described Amy's writing as clean and unfettered, yet fulsomely expressed. Judging panel convenor, the broadcaster Miriama Kamo says the book explores the 'then and now in a literary panorama mirroring the very place upon which the collection is built.'

Marty Smith's Horse with Hat (VUP 2014), has not only won the NZSA Jessie Mackay First Book Award for poetry, but is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards overall Poetry category, in the company of current and past New Zealand Poets Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan and Michele Leggott, and fellow first-time author and VUP poet Caoilinn Hughes.

'This is a simply beautiful book. Marty Smith’s poems are by turns quirky, sad, punchy, amusing, thought-provoking, and above all they provide a sense of time and place and family'
Booksellers New Zealand

' travel through sumptuous lines and layers. This is no rose-tinted memoir—you get grit and you get open views, you get life’s awkwardness and you get empathy...a fine debut.'
The Poetry Shelf

Of Marty's debut, Miriama Kamo commented: 'If Kiwi filmaking can be characterised as "cinema of unease", then Horse with Hat is the literary equivalent – dark, quiet, explosive and compelling. The book reflects thos quintessential markers that so many New Zealand families will recognise, whether with joy or reluctance. Galloping from poem to poem, Marty's work is an innovative and unsentimental observation of relationsahips, the most primal of all – within the family.'

Read the full press release.




Back to top ^

A capital literary season - Writers on Mondays returns

27 June 2014

The perennially popular Writers on Mondays series, presented by Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), returns to Te Papa in mid-July with another stimulating line-up of new fiction, poetry, scriptwriting and nonfiction from the Wellington scene and further afield.

Read or download the full Writers on Mondays 2014 programme.

This year's special international guest is novelist, publisher, translator, poet and anthologist, Michael Schmidt. Schmidt's illustrious career includes founding Carcanet Press and editing world-class literary journal PN Review. With poet, painter and essayist Greg O'Brien, Schmidt will discuss his latest work, a brilliant and compendious history of fiction called simply The Novel: A Biography.  Schmidt appears on 1 September, with support from the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation at Victoria University.

The programme kicks off on 14 July with Auckland-based novelist and journalist Tim Wilson, who will read from his raucous new satirical novel News Pigs, and interrogate New Zealand's self-image as Plucky Little Country with fellow broadcaster and writer Richard Langston, in what promises to be a very lively session.

The following week, the audience gets the opportunity to hear three new poets on the scene – Maria McMillan, Rachel O'Neill and Marty Smith – in readings and discussion about their recent stunning debut collections of poetry.

On July 28, literary all-rounder and much-admired poet Geoff Cochrane joins publisher Fergus Barrowman in conversation about Astonished Dice, a brand new collection of Cochrane's best short stories.

At the start of August, Victoria University/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence Hinemoana Baker will share her experiences of the residency, read from her new book of poems, and reveal a little of her work in progress, a moving personal account of involuntary childlessness and her father's traumatic childhood in a Nelson orphanage.

On 11 August, historians Kirstie Ross and Associate Professor Kate Hunter share some of the treasures they discovered while writing Holding on to Home, an account of New Zealanders' experience of World War I told through objects that act as emotional touchstones to bring this distant event back into our hands.

To celebrate National Poetry Day, nine poets will read work selected for the 2013 edition of Best New Zealand Poems introduced by the anthology's editors, Professors Jane Stafford and Mark Williams.

Returning to fiction, Dominion Post columnist and Commonwealth Writers' Best First Book Prize winner Craig Cliff and Ngā Kupu Ora award winner Tina Makereti talk about writing into the spaces between magic, realism and history in their acclaimed novels The Mannequin Makers and Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings.

September kicks off with man of letters Michael Schmidt discussing his many literary lives. Then we showcase the emerging new voices from the IIML's MA in Creative Writing Programme. The penultimate session features seasoned scriptwriters Peter Cox, Kelly Marshall and Dave Armstrong talking about the highs and lows of the scriptwriting life; and the 2014 series rounds off with a trio of writers discussing newly released memoirs of home, exile and pain: Ian Wedde (The Grass Catcher), Helena Wísniewska Brow (Give Us This Day) and Stephanie de Montalk (How Does it Hurt?).

As Damien Wilkins, Director of IIML, says, 'The wonderful combination of new voices and established writers makes this series a brilliant fixture on the literary calendar.'

Writers on Mondays events run from 12.15–1.15pm, 14 July – 30 September at Te Papa, The Marae, Level 4, Te Papa.

Admission is free, all are welcome. Please note that no food may be taken onto the Te Papa marae.

Writers on Mondays is presented by Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and National Poetry Day. Michael Schmidt's visit is funded by the New Zealand Centre for Literary Translation at Victoria University.

For further information contact Chris Price, Senior Lecturer, IIML, on 04-463 6854 or


Back to top ^

Damien Wilkins on creativity and innovation

22 June 2014

A panel of Victoria staff, including the IIML's Director, Professor Damien Wilkins, led a conversation about the link between creativity and innovation as part of a Leading Edge event at the National Library on June 18.

'Creating Worlds: writing, design, science' was hosted by Victoria's Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford and featured presentations by Wilkins alongside Professor Simon Fraser from the Faculty of Architecture and Design and Professor Kate McGrath from the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.

Wilkins discussed the cross-disciplinary nature of a recent PhD Creative Writing graduate's thesis, and subsequent novel, while acknowledging that innovation can be a high-risk activity in the field of creative writing. He also touched on hairdressing and caligraphy. Watch the presentation on YouTube.

Professor Guilford commented after the event: 'What struck me, and our audience, was the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Of course, we need the right environment – one that is stimulating, encourages freedom of expression and gives people time to reflect – but we must also be open to ideas from outside our area of expertise. Ideas are better connected than protected – it is the coming together of new ideas that sparks new possibilities and that is at the heart of innovation.'

Back to top ^

Tina Makereti interviewed

23 May 2014

Tina Makereti is an award-winning short fiction and non fiction writer, whose first novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Random House), was published this year. She has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā and Moriori descent.

From July to October 2014, Tina will convene the CREW 256: Special Topic: Māori and Pasifika Creative Writing Workshop at the IIML.

In a recent interview with the Book Council's Rachel O'Neill, she talks about writing Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings, and its central themes of loss, change, ethnic identity and belonging.

'The whole novel was really a working through of my central questions around identity and ethnicity and culture, so I guess the story itself was a way of answering this question, which I found couldn’t be answered any other way.'

Read the interview on Booknotes Unbound

More about Tina Makereti

Applications for CREW 256 close on 21 June.

More about CREW 256 Special Topic: Māori and Pasifika Creative Writing Workshop

Back to top ^

Emily Perkins visits Chinese Universities

11 April 2014

Fiction writer Emily Perkins has addressed student audiences at a number of Chinese universities, about creative writing and approaches to creativity in the New Zealand education system.

Emily, who is a Senior Lecturer at the IIML, co-convening the MA in Creative Writing, visited China in March as a guest of the 2014 Shanghai Literary Festival.

In addition to her Festival commitments, she spoke to students in popular sessions at Fudan University and Shanghai International Studies University in Shanghai; and Sun Yat-sen University and Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou. She spoke from her experiences as a student, artist and creative writing tutor in New Zealand and fielded questions about her own fiction and the study and practice of creative writing. Read the coverage on the Education NZ website.

Emily is the author of four novels, including The Forrests, and Novel About My Wife, and a collection of short stories, Not Her Real Name. She has taught in the UK and New Zealand and presented TV books programmes 'The Book Show' and 'The Good Word' from 2006-2011. Her books have won and been shortlisted for major local and international awards, and she was named an Arts Foundation Laureate in 2011.

Read more about Emily Perkins and the MA in Creative Writing.


Back to top ^

Best New Zealand Poems 2013 now online

1 April 2014

Media release

 Best New Zealand Poems 2013 has been published online, showcasing work from award-winning poets, including the Poet Laureate, to new and emerging talents.

The 2013 edition includes work from award-winning poets such as Fleur Adcock, current Poet Laureate Vincent O'Sullivan, and Anne Kennedy to emerging talents such as Chris Tse and the Irish-New Zealand poet Caoilinn Hughes. It has been edited by Professor Mark Williams and Professor Jane Stafford from Victoria University of Wellington.

In deciding what to include in Best New Zealand Poems, both editors have drawn on their experience of wading through 200 years of New Zealand literature when putting together the landmark Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature (2012). They chose 25 poems to include in the anthology, put them in a historical context and described the current state of New Zealand's 'best' poetry.
After the 'torrid but not wholly unenjoyable' task of editing the Anthology of New Zealand Literature, the editors say it was liberating to be confined to one year's slim bulk of poetry with Best New Zealand Poems.

'What we looked for, and found,' write Professors Stafford and Williams, 'were poems of clarity and suggestiveness, poems that act as a dynamic conversation with the reader — rule poems, riddle poems, mix-of register poems, social pattern poems with something withheld, poems which are dramatic, lyrical and coherent, without tired lines or dull phrases.' 

Series editor and poet Chris Price, who is also Senior Lecturer at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters, says: 'While many previous editors of Best New Zealand Poems have themselves been poets, this year it's been stimulating and revealing to have the 2013 edition selected by professional critics of New Zealand literature. I'm sure their introduction will provoke further conversations and debates.'

Best New Zealand Poems 2013 includes excerpts from a number of impressive long poems by both leading writers such as Ian Wedde, Michele Leggott and Dinah Hawken, and relative newcomers such as Amy Brown.

A number of the poems are also available as audio recordings. Auckland poet Selina Tusitala Marsh and Dunedin-based Professor Emeritus Vincent O'Sullivan are among a number of poets who can be heard reading their work on the site.

Best New Zealand Poems is published by the International Institute of Modern Letters. It was first published online in 2001, and features a different editor each year. In 2011 Victoria University Press published The Best of the Best New Zealand Poems, a selection from the first 10 years of the collection in book form.

Best New Zealand Poems 2013, and all previous editions, can be viewed at
It is published with the support of Creative New Zealand, and hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection at Victoria University.

For more information please contact Chris Price on (04) 463 5815 or email

Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications and Marketing.

Download this media release (105 KBpdf)

Back to top ^

Turbine 2013 goes live

19 February 2014

Media Release

Turbine 2013

Poetry, memoir and a tribute to artist Ralph Hotere feature in the 2013 issue of the online literary journal Turbine which is published by Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML).

Turbine 13 showcases writing from established and emerging voices, including the latest graduates of the IIML's Master of Arts in Creative Writing

View Turbine 13.

This year's highlights include American poet Mary Ruefle's 'Long White Cloud', which was inspired by her visit to New Zealand as an IIML international guest writer, and former IIML director Emeritus Professor Bill Manhire's tribute to Ralph Hotere titled 'Some Things to Place in a Coffin'.

Turbine also features an extract from the first memoir to win the Adam Foundation Prize, Helena Wiśniewska Brow's Give us this day, which will be published by Victoria University Press in October this year. The memoir tells the story of a Polish child who arrived in New Zealand in 1944.

There is also poetry from Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Sara Martin, who is currently convening a poetry workshop at the IIML.

An interview with 2013 Victoria University Writer in Residence Carl Shuker and extracts from the reading journals of last year's MA in Creative Writing graduates, give fascinating insights into the writing process.

Among the previous contributors to Turbine is IIML graduate Eleanor Catton, whose novel The Luminaries, won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

For further information contact Chris Price, Senior Lecturer at the IIML, on 04-463 5815 or by email.

Download this media release (114KB pdf)



Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications & Marketing. Kristina Keogh, Assistant Communications Adviser, can be contacted by emailing Kristina Keogh or phoning (04) 463 5163 or 027 563 5163.

Victoria University of Wellington: The number one university in New Zealand for research quality.

Back to top ^

IIML Staff and Graduates in Writers Week lineup

7 February 2014

Writers Week runs from 7 to 12 March this year, as part of the New Zealand Festival, and once again, Victoria University is a key partner in the event. IIML staff and graduates also have a strong presence in this year's Writers Week lineup.


Events to look out for include a rehearsed reading of scenes from IIML Director Damien Wilkins' latest novel, Max Gate; a live creative writing workshop convened onstage by James Brown; Dave Armstrong reading as part of the lineup for The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous, and chairing a session on New Zealand playwrights and the histories that inspire them; and critic Terry Castle in conversation with Harry Ricketts.


More details are below. You can read the full programme and book tickets on the Writers Week website.


And look out for sessions featuring or hosted by our graduates; among them the Man Booker prizewinning novelist Eleanor Catton (2014 New Zealand Book Council Lecture and Midwives or Meddlers?, journalist Linley Boniface and Commonwealth Short Story Prizewinner Emma Martin (Reading for Readers); poet, essayist and fiction writer Alice Miller (First Published); novelist and first-time children's author Mary McCallum (Dappled Annie and the Tigrish - book launch); and award-winning writer Tina Makereti, who will teach a Māori and Pasifika Creative Writing Workshop at the IIML later this year, in conversation with the poet and novelist Kei Miller(Where We Might Fit).

Read more about our graduates.


Scenes of Secrets and Disguises  five actors read from Arts Foundation Laureate Damien Wilkin’s seventh novel, Max Gate (Victoria University Press, 2013).

Sunday 9 March from 4.45pm, Embassy Theatre

More about Damien Wilkins and the International Institute of Modern Letters


The Exercise Book Live – award-winning poet James Brown and students of the International Institute of Modern Letters workshop prose, poetry and scripts live onstage, with audience interaction.

Friday 7 March from 9.45am, Hannah Playhouse

More about James Brown and CREW 253 Poetry Workshop


Based on a True Story – Playwrights Michelanne Forster, Hone Kouka, Briar Grace-Smith and Stuart Hoar discuss their relationship with and debt to the New Zealand histories that have inspired them, in a session chaired by fellow playwright and television scriptwriter Dave Armstrong.

Wednesday 12 March from 10.45am, Hannah Playhouse


Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous

Dave Armstrong, Joy Cowley, Elizabeth Knox, Antonio Te Maioha,  Kyle Mewburn, and Jo Randerson share stories and poems from The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous (Te Papa Press, 2014); a new anthology inspired by the weird and wonderful contents of Te Papa Tongarewa Museum.
Sunday 8 March from 2pm, Te Marae at Te Papa.

More about Dave Armstrong and CREW 351 Television Scriptwriting Workshop


Reviewing the reviewer – critic Terry Castle (London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books), whom Susan Sontag called ‘the most expressive, most enlightening literary critic at large today’, discusses her craft with fellow critic, poet, biographer and reviewer Harry Ricketts.

Sunday 9 March from 10.45am, Embassy Theatre.

More about Harry Ricketts and CREW 257 Creative Nonfiction Workshop.

Back to top ^

Eleanor Catton to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Victoria

28 January 2014

Eleanor Catton

Man Booker prize-winning author of The Luminaries Eleanor Catton, is to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature at Victoria University of Wellington’s May graduation.

'We are extremely proud to count Eleanor among our illustrious alumni, and look forward to formally acknowledging her achievements with an honorary doctorate,' says Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh. Read the full story.

Eleanor graduated with Distinction from Victoria's MA Creative Writing programme in 2008, winning that year's Adam Prize for The Rehearsal, which was subsequently published by Victoria University Press. The Luminaries is her second novel.

Read more about Eleanor Catton and other graduates of the MA in Creative Writing

Back to top ^