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Leading New Zealand Writers Honoured

9 September 2008

Leading New Zealand Writers Honoured

Three of New Zealand's most celebrated writers – WH (Bill) Oliver, Lloyd Jones and Elizabeth Smither were honoured at tonight's 2008 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement at Premier House in Wellington.

Each writer receives $60,000 in recognition of their significant contribution to New Zealand literature. The Awards are administered by Creative New Zealand.

These three writers were recognised in the categories of Poetry [Elizabeth Smither], Fiction [Lloyd Jones] and Non-Fiction [WH Oliver].

Prime Minister Helen Clark said writers Bill Oliver, Lloyd Jones and Elizabeth Smither have all added something special to New Zealand's cultural landscape through their work.

"These awards were created to recognise those who have made an enduring contribution to literature in New Zealand. Their work reflects the nuances and subtleties of what it is to be a New Zealand writer. From the uniqueness of this country and the people who live here to worlds beyond these shores, their work adds depth and richness to our literary traditions."

Writer Dame Fiona Kidman was awarded the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship earlier this year. She was also present at the ceremony where her achievements were acknowledged.

Creative New Zealand Chair Alastair Carruthers thanked the writers for the outstanding contribution they had all made to New Zealand literature.

"The calibre of this evening's recipients exemplifies New Zealand's strong literary tradition. Their body of work reinforces and enhances our unique culture which is in turn recognised internationally."

The Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement, along with the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship, were established in 2003.

Every year, New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of an outstanding writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction. The nominations are assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations forwarded to the Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.

The complete list of recipients to date is:

• Fiction: Janet Frame (2003), Maurice Gee (2004), Margaret Mahy (2005), Patricia Grace (2006), Fiona Farrell (2007), Lloyd Jones (2008). • Poetry: Hone Tuwhare (2003), Kevin Ireland (2004), Alistair Te Ariki Campbell (2005), Vincent O'Sullivan (2006), Bill Manhire (2007), Elizabeth Smithers (2008). • Non-fiction: Michael King (2003), Anne Salmond (2004), Philip Temple (2005), Judith Binney (2006), Dick Scott (2007), WH (Bill) Oliver (2008).

Biographies:

Poetry – Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither is a leading New Zealand poet, admired and respected for her distinctive, quirky, stylish lyrics with their unexpected twists and their delight in ideas, objects and people. She has published fifteen collections, and is also a short story writer and a novelist. Selected published works Here Come the Clouds, 1975 Shakespeare's Virgins, 1983 A Pattern of Marching, 1989, New Zealand Book Award for Poetry 1990, The Tudor Style: Poems New and Selected, 1993, The Lark Quartet, 1999, Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry 2000, The Year of Adverbs, 2007. Fiction –

Lloyd Jones Lloyd Jones is a fiction writer drawn to a sympathetic portrayal of ordinary middle-class life, a suburban realist who simultaneously challenges realism, subverts fictional norms, defies categories and writes narratives which are challenging, original and in some cases controversial. In May 2007, he won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Overall Best Book Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his novel Mister Pip. In 2007 he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency. Selected published works Gilmore's Dairy (1985) , Splinter (1988), Swimming to Australia, and Other Stories (1991), Biografi: An Albanian Quest (1993) - a New York Times Notable Book, This House Has Three Walls (1997), Choo Woo (1998), Book of Fame (2000) - winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002) - shortlisted in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, Manoli and the Chicken Farmer (2003) - winner of the Honour Award at the NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2004, Paint Your Wife (2004) and Mister Pip (2006).

Non-fiction – W.H. Oliver (Bill) W. H. Oliver (Bill) has written extensively on New Zealand history and published several volumes of poetry. He was represented in the Oxford (1956) and Penguin (1960) anthologies of New Zealand verse. Fire Without Phoenix: Poems 1946–54 (1957), won the Jessie Mackay Poetry Prize. On his retirement from Professor of History at Massey University he was appointed general editor of the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography till 1990, when the first volume was published. Selected published works The Story of New Zealand (1960), which traced 'a history of adaptation and improvisation'; Challenge and Response (1971) and James K. Baxter: A Portrait (1983). He was co-editor of the Oxford History of New Zealand (1981), and founding editor of the quarterly review Comment (1959–63, 1978–82). He edited Landfall (Nos. 42 and 43) for six months in 1957. Looking for the Phoenix was longlisted for the Montana Medal for Non Fiction Biography Category in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2003. Poems 1946-2005 was published by Victoria University Press in 2005.

ENDS


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