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New Zealand writers' quality recognised offshore

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7 MAY 2001

New Zealand writers' quality recognised offshore

Three New Zealand poets have received prestigious overseas invitations recognising the quality of their work in an international context.

Lynda Chanwai Earle ("Honeypants", "Ka Shue"), also an acclaimed playwright and performance artist, will leave this week for the First Hong Kong Standard Chartered International Literary Festival (www.paddyfield.com.hk/festival). Lynda will be one of only 15 overseas guest writers and the only New Zealander invited to appear. The festival runs from 11–13 May. Lynda’s visit to Hong Kong has been sponsored by the Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand.

Michele Leggott ("DIA", "Swimmers Dancers", "As Far As I Can See", "Big Smoke") is the only New Zealand writer invited to appear as part of the main programme at the new Berlin International Literature Festival (www.internationales-literaturfestival-berlin.de). The festival will run from 14–24 June. Michele’s visit to Berlin has been sponsored by Creative New Zealand.

In August this year exciting Maori writer Robert Sullivan (Nga Puhi) ("Pike Ake", "Jazz Wiata", "Star Waka") will take up a six-month position as Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Hawai’i. Every semester the Creative Writing Program has a visiting poet or visiting prose writer on the staff so that students may work with a writer not on the regular faculty. Recent visiting writers have included Linda Gregg, Lois Ann Yamanaka, Ron Carlson, Eric Chock, Alison Deming, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Cathy Song, Eleanor Wilner, Terese Suodod and Eric Gamalinda.

Background information on the Festivals Hong Kong’s first International Literary Festival has been developed to celebrate good writing in English from Asia roots. The Standard Chartered International Literary Festival aims to enable audiences to meet acclaimed writers whose work has been informed in some way by Asia. The writers will include short-listed Booker Prize nominees, Timothy Mo and Romesh Gunesekera. The festival aims to encourage more reading for pleasure in English in Hong Kong and, in the long term, to spawn more good writing in English about Asia.

“Hong Kong is the place where Asian and 'anglo' cultures meet and mix, so it should be a great source for writers who can express the Asian experience in English,” says festival director Nury Vittachi. “Unfortunately, this has generally not been the case, because not enough has been done to foster a love of reading and a literary culture here.”

The Berlin International Literature Festival will be held in Berlin from 14 to 24 June 2001. It plans to familiarise a wide audience with the latest trends in prose and poetry from around the world.

Berlin has hosted major events for film, music, theatre and art for decades, yet up to now literature has had no comparable forum. The festival directors want to change this and too make Berlin the scene of the world’s largest and most distinguished literary club for a few days.

– ENDS –

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