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Book Council News
The New Zealand Book Council has chosen the 2015 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival as the stage for its annual address, which this year will be given by New Zealand literary legend Witi Ihimaera today (May 7) at the Regent Theatre. The topic – where New Zealand literature has come from, where it is today and where it appears to be heading has proved to be a daunting subject for Ihimaera.
“I have been going round and round in circles trying to answer the question. The easy part was writing about the past, at least we know where New Zealand literature has come from. The hard part has been to look at the present, the New Zealand landscape for writers and publishers has changed a lot and then there’s the impact of the digital revolution and our growing interconnection with the wider world.
“All those matters to do with nation, identity, location, race, internationalism and ungrateful huas, are up for grabs.”
Catriona Ferguson, the director of the New Zealand Book Council says Ihimaera’s address will be lively, engaging and will lay out some challenges.
“We hope that the audience will be provoked and inspired and that the lecture will encourage them to go on to read more of Witi’s work as well as the work of other NZ writers. Also to think about contemporary NZ writing and what the future of writing in Aotearoa might be.”
This is the first time the prestigious New Zealand Book Council address has been given in the South Island. Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival Chairperson, Alexandra Bligh says she is delighted the Festival has been given this honour and expects Witi’s address will provide a great contextual and conceptual backdrop for the entire Festival.
“This is our first Festival as a UNESCO City of Literature and we are thrilled to have someone of Witi’s stature as our guest to help officially launch the Festival.”
WHEN: Thursday 7 May, 6pm–7.30pm
WHERE: Regent Theatre, Octagon
TICKETS: ticketdirect.co.nz — Service fees will apply, $10
On Friday 8th of May children across Otago and Southland will be rising early to reach the Dunedin City Library in time to take part in the New Zealand Book Council’s Speed Date an Author programme. The event will run from 9.30am to 1.00pm, and feature creative writing workshops from four of New Zealand’s top children’s authors, poets and rising illustrators.
Each writer will present four fast-paced sessions of thirty minutes each to rotating groups of school children. The sessions are intended to give the young writers and illustrators a boost by developing their skills, and perhaps more importantly, by encouraging them to find their unique voices through the intensive tuition they receive.
The event, a well-established feature of the Dunedin City Library, is this year being organised as part of the Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival. In the past the event has proved enormously popular, with students and teachers travelling from as far afield as Palmerston and Queenstown to attend. This year is no exception; Dunedin schools will be joined by children from Balclutha and the Catlins, as well as students from the far-flung Barton Rural School near Timaru.
It will be the first time the workshops have been designed to include upper-primary and intermediate pupils, as well as early secondary school students, and the writers have been selected to represent the age group.
Two highly acclaimed children’s authors will be present. Kyle Mewburn is a staple of contemporary New Zealand children’s literature, and current president of the New Zealand Society of Authors. His many stories, such as Kiss! Kiss! Yuk! Yuk! and Old Huhu, have won numerous accolades at the NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and many children will be familiar with his books. Alongside him will be professional story-teller Tanya Batt, who will undertake her own epic journey from Waiheke Island to be part of the sessions. Her enigmatic and energetic presence is set to be a stand-out for the students.
Not confined solely to children’s literature, the event will also feature poet and 2015 Robert Burns Fellow, Louise Wallace. The young poet has received considerable praise for her two collections of poetry, Since June and Enough. Also in attendance is Spencer Hall, a talented and self-published comic book author, sculptor, and radio host. He is the co-founder of the Dunedin Comic Collective, a zine imprint dedicated to showcasing upcoming local comic artists in the Otago region.
The sessions are expected to be extremely rewarding for the writers and illustrators involved, and will give them the opportunity to connect with the next generation of talent. It is hoped that the students who attend are left inspired, motivated, and most importantly, ready to write.
For more information or interviews:
Programmes Manager, New Zealand Book Council
Phone: (04) 801 5546 / 0212712333
The New Zealand Book Council is enhancing its support of the country’s reading and writing culture with a new monthly podcast.
Talking Books will dissect both the latest releases and enduring classics, with input from New Zealand’s top writers, journalists, academics and newsmakers. With a primary focus on New Zealand writing and writers, the podcasts will provide an important addition to the national arts discussion.
'At a time when support for the literary arts in New Zealand is in flux, it’s vital we find new ways to spread the word about the joy of reading and promote New Zealand writers,' said Book Council Chief Executive Catriona Ferguson.
'Our series of podcasts provides an opportunity to hear smart people talking about great books – and will hopefully foster not only a new listening habit, but encourage more diverse reading habits as well.'
The first edition of Talking Books – available on the Booknotes Unbound website and coming soon to iTunes – is hosted by novelist Catherine Robertson, and features writer Rachel O’Neill, author Pip Adam and book critic Guy Somerset. Catherine and her guests explore the unlikely links between two hot New Zealand releases, The Chimes by Anna Smaill and Five Minutes Alone by Paul Cleave.
The second edition of the podcast will focus on this year’s nominated Great Kiwi Classic, Janet Frame’s debut novel Owls Do Cry. Novelist Paula Morris will lead a spirited debate on the book’s claim to classic status with poet Selina Tusitala Marsh and reviewer, editor and poet Iain Sharp.
Talking Books will be uploaded monthly to the Booknotes Unbound website: http://booknotes-unbound.org.nz/ The Book Council is grateful to Copyright Licensing New Zealand for its support in making this new podcast series possible through the CLNZ Contestable Fund.
Listen to Talking Books podcast #1: http://bit.ly/1GHkBhj
NZ Book Council Talking Books podcast #2
Paula Morris, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Iain Sharp delve into the 2015 Great Kiwi Classic Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame.
Owls Do Cry: A personal response from the Children’s Commissioner
Dr Russell Wills talks about the impact Owls Do Cry and other classics have had on him and how the themes of the book are as relevant as ever.
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