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Aucklander Wins Berlin Writers' Residency

Aucklander Wins Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency

Tina Shaw, the author of three published novels, has been awarded the 2001 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency, worth approximately $60,000.

The Auckland writer, who was selected from a strong field of applicants, will take up the nine-month residency from the end of September. The Arts Board of Creative New Zealand will cover the rental costs of the apartment, which is situated in the centre of Berlin, and provide a $3000 a month stipend and travel allowance.

This is the second year that Creative New Zealand has offered the residency. Last year’s recipient of the inaugural Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Award was Sarah Quigley of Christchurch.

Elizabeth Kerr, Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, said the residency was an excellent opportunity for a New Zealand writer to live in the cultural hub of Europe and devote herself to writing for a sustained period of time.

“Tina Shaw is an established writer, ready to absorb the sights and sounds and experiences of Europe,” Miss Kerr said. “She will be an excellent ambassador for New Zealand writing.”

Shaw, who was awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship in 1999, is “overwhelmed and excited” at the prospect of living in a major European city and, at the same time, focussing on her new novel.

“I’m at a stage in my career when an overseas residency will benefit me enormously and act as a source of inspiration,” she said. “At some stage in a writer’s career, you need to leave your own country so that you can look at it from a fresh perspective. This residency will have tremendous benefits for my new novel but it will also have an ongoing impact on my writing.”

Shaw’s first novel, Birdie, was published in 1996 and her second novel, Dreams of America, was published the following year and serialised on National Radio. Her third novel, City of Reeds, was published last year and a New Zealand Listener review of the novel said it confirmed her as a “major literary talent”. Shaw has completed her fourth novel and is now working on her new novel, set in the 1930s. One of its characters is an historical figure, who spent his formative years in Berlin. Being able to research this aspect of her novel “on the spot” would be invaluable, she said.

In 1998, Shaw edited A Passion for Travel, a collection of travel writing by New Zealand writers. Her short stories have been published and broadcast widely. Shaw, who will travel to Berlin with her partner, John Shaw, is undaunted at the prospect of a year in a German-speaking country. She learned the language at secondary school and has already armed herself with cassette tapes and text books. “Hopefully, by the time I go I’ll be able to hold a basic conversation in German,” she said.

The Goethe Institut will also be sponsoring an intensive German language course when she arrives in Berlin.

Sarah Quigley, who has completed her Berlin residency, is currently in England. The British Council is sponsoring her attendance at a Cambridge literary seminar this month.

“To be immersed in the cultural life of a city such as Berlin was an unforgettable experience,” Quigley said. “My next work of fiction – and, I’m sure, all my future works - will be greatly enriched by this experience.”

The Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency is its largest writers’ residency, which it hopes to offer for a third time in 2002.

As well as supporting other international residencies for artists, Creative New Zealand’s Arts Board currently co-funds five writer-in-residence programmes at New Zealand universities, plus a children’s writer-in-residence programme at the Dunedin College of Education.

In addition, Creative New Zealand is supporting the 2001 International Writing Programme, a three-month writers’ residency at the University of Iowa. The recipient, Vince Ford of Gisborne, was announced earlier this week.

ends

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