New Writer in Residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters
Novelist, poet and film writer Anne Kennedy has been appointed the Victoria University of Wellington and Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence for 2016.
20 October 2015
Since her 1988 novella 100 Traditional Smiles, Ms Kennedy, a Victoria University graduate, has been regarded as one of New Zealand’s most original and gifted writers. She has twice been awarded New Zealand’s top prize for poetry and her most recent novel, The Last Days of the National Costume, was a finalist in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
Ms Kennedy has also written screenplays for seminal New Zealand short films such as Jewel’s Darl (from her own BNZ-Katherine Mansfield-award-winning story) and Danny and Raewyn and the features Crush and The Monkey’s Mask. Her work is published internationally and she has taught at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and the Manukau Institute of Technology, where she is editor of the literary journal Ika.
Ms Kennedy’s writing is praised for its ingenuity, love of language, playfulness and range. Her fiction, always interested in questions of culture, politics and geography, draws on influences from other art forms and ‘seduces with the sheer joy in its writing’ (NZ Listener).
Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters, Damien Wilkins, says, “Anne is one of the most inventive and accomplished writers we have. She moves from poetry to fiction and back again with startling results. Her risk-taking and her commitment to fresh modes of seeing is an inspiration. We're thrilled that Anne will be at the IIML next year.”
Ms Kennedy plans to use the residency to work on a new novel, set largely in Hawai’i, where she lived for ten years, that will speak to post-colonial situations and their aftermaths around the world, including Aotearoa.
“I have a cyclone-sized thank you to make:
I’m going to be the luckiest writer in New Zealand in 2016. I’m going to have an office at IIML and get paid to sit in it and write. I’ll probably come out of the office from time to time and go to the odd literary event, Wellington being famous for such things, and such people. When it’s windy out there, my DNA will remind me (because I’m from Wellington, a long time ago) how invigorating wind is for feeling and thinking. I’m looking forward to being buffeted.
Recently, I’ve had some words of Adrienne Rich blowing around in my head: ‘We must use what we have to invent what we desire.’ My ‘have’ has just expanded, miraculously. I hope I can do justice to the rest.
Thank you, IIML and Creative New Zealand, for this compelling opportunity for me personally, and for continuing to create the spaces we need in Aotearoa for our literatures.”