International Institute of Modern Letters


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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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