Emma Neale is a poet and prose writer, whose first novel Night Swimming was published in 1998, followed by her first collection of poetry Sleeve Notes in 1999. Her writing has been featured extensively in journals and anthologies, and in 2000 Neale won the Todd New Writers’ Bursary. Neale’s novel Little Moon (2001) was described by John McCrystal as, ‘flawlessly written, deploying a wealth of descriptive imagery’. Neale won first place in the 2008 Takahe Poetry Competition with her poem 'Well', and was the inaugural recipient of the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2008. Emma Neale won the 2011 Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry and she was the 2012 Robert Burns Fellow at The University of Otago. She also held the 2014 Sir James Wallace Trust/University of Otago Pah Homestead residency. Her book Billy Bird (Penguin Random House 2016) has received excellent reviews and was shortlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neale, Emma (1969 - ) is a poet and prose writer whose first novel, Night Swimming (1998) was swiftly followed by a collection of poetry, Sleeve Notes (1999).
Sally Sutton writes in New Zealand Books that ‘Night Swimming is a gentle, agreeably unpretentious first novel about a friendship that has not been permitted to run its natural course.’ Pam Henson describes the novel as a ‘careful dissection of experience into observation, exploration and response.’ ‘Read the first chapter...’ writes Graham Beattie, ‘and you will be unable to put the book down."
In New Zealand Books, Bernadette Hall praises Sleeve Notes for ‘the integrity, the tenderness, the easy access to the body, the wide perspective...It's all very human, with the special kind of soundness that delights again and again.’
In 2000 Neale won the Todd New Writers Bursary.
In 2001 Neale released Little Moon (2001), described by John McCrystal in the Evening Post as ‘flawlessly written, deploying a wealth of descriptive imagery.’
Neale edited Creative Juices (2001), the work from the creative writing programmes as Victoria and Auckland Universities, and from the fiction writing course at Timaru's Aoraki Polytechnic. Neale was also selecting editor for the annual online anthology Best New Zealand Poems 2004, and for Swings and Roundabouts (Godwit, 2008), a collection of poetry on the theme of parenthood, illustrated with photographs of babies and young children.
Neale's poetry collection How To Make a Million (2002) explores the tricks, turns and seductions of language itself. Her poetry was also included in the collection Double Jointed (2003), edited by Jenny Powell-Chalmers.
She released Double Take in 2003 (Penguin Random House). It is a novel that explores the push for creativity and the dynamics of family. Siobhan Harvey reviewed the book and decribed the writing as 'pertinent, lyrical and profound' (New Zealand Herald, 2003).
In 2006, Emma Neale released Relative Strangers, published by Vintage. Reviewer Andrew McNulty said that 'Neale reminds all mothers of what matters most: motherhood' (The Listener, 2006).
Spark (Steele Roberts, 2008) is a collection of poetry written during Neale's first four years as a mother. 'Many will connect with the paradoxically unique universals expressed: the everyday, yet utterly individual, experience of motherhood,' said Kim Worthington in The Listener on June 21-27 2008. Swings and Roundabouts: Poems on Parenthood, edited with an introduction by Emma Neale was published by Vintage: Random House in 2008.
Neale won first place in the 2008 Takahe Poetry Competition with her poem 'Well'. She was also the inaugural recipient of the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature in 2008. She has had writing published in North America in Bat City Review and The Harvard Review.
Emma Neale's novel Fosterling was published in 2011 (Vintage NZ). Paula Green reviewed the book in the NZ Herald, 'I do think Neale is one of those New Zealand writers who has undeservedly fallen under the radar. Fosterling is testament to her virtuosity with words. She writes with intelligence, heart and a poet's lyricism. Highly recommended.'
Emma Neale won the 2011 Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry and she was the 2012 Robert Burns Fellow at The University of Otago.
Her collection of poetry, The Truth Garden was published in 2012 by Otago University Press. Neale held the 2014 Sir James Wallace Trust/University of Otago Pah Homestead residency. She was one of three finalists for the 2014 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize.
Neale was the recipient of the 2014 New Zealand Society of Authors Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship.
Otago University Press published a follow-up collection to the award-winning The Truth Garden called Tender Machines in August 2015.
New Zealand poet Rhian Gallagher says "Tender Machines is a courageous collection. Neale has taken the urgency, the high-tensile wirewalking of Sylvia Plath and gone somewhere else with it; her poems keep somehow believing in a future even though it can feel so utterly undermined in the difficult present."
Tender Machines was longlisted for the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
In a return to fiction Neale released Billy Bird (Penguin Random House 2016). Reviewer Sarah Forster said 'Billy Bird is a magnificent book. It’s sad, and happy, and funny, and brutal – and paradigm-breaking' (October, 2016). The book has also been longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards in Fiction. Holly Walker from Radio New Zealand described the book as a 'very moving and real portrayal of parenthood and grief and loss and ultimately resilience and recovery... it's very lightly and deftly handled and there's plenty of humour as well, so it's a very enjoyable and quite a joyful read... I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of parenthood... anyone would enjoy this, particularly parents of young children.'
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Emma Neale's blog
- Poems by the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize finalists, featuring Emma Neale
- Radio New Zealand review of Fosterling
- Emma Neale’s Penguin Random House NZ profile
- 13th Floor Studios interview with Emma Neale on Billy Bird
- An interview with Emma Neale on The Pantograph Punch site
- Emma Neale's article on Ted Dawe'sInto the River
- Stuff.co.nz article on Emma Neale and Billy Bird
- The Listener review of Billy Bird
- Emma Neale's poetry on the NZ Poet Laureate site
- Otago Daily Times review of Billy Bird
Updated October 2017.