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Bill Manhire announced as KM Fellow

Bill Manhire announced as KM Fellow

Bill Manhire, poet and director of Victoria University's creative writing programme, was named the 2003 recipient of the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship last night.

Bill Manhire is an award winning poet who has achieved acclaim both here and overseas and who was named New Zealand's inaugural Poet Laureate in 1997. His latest book of poetry is a volume of Collected Poems 1967-1999 published by Victoria University Press (2001) and he has recently published an autobiographical essay called Under the Influence (Montana Estates Essay Series) about growing up in pubs run by his family in Otago and Southland. His creative writing course at Victoria, which he began teaching in 1975, has had a major influence on New Zealand literature. Previous students of Manhire's include Barbara Anderson, James Brown, Kate Camp, Catherine Chidgey, Barbara Else, Kapka Kassabova, Elizabeth Knox, Emily Perkins and William Brandt.

Bill Manhire says that he is delighted to receive the Fellowship. "I've spent so much of my time in recent years helping other people to write, that to suddenly have the opportunity to do so myself is astonishing." He plans to produce a new collection of poems in Menton. "I've always felt that poetry is the closest literary form to music. So to be in France, where the everyday soundscape is going to be so different, is a very exciting prospect."

The Fellowship, considered by many to be New Zealand's most prestigious literary award, is awarded each year to an established and well-known writer whose work has already made a considerable impact in NZ. It allows the recipient to spend six months at the Villa Isola Bella, Menton, in the south of France, Katherine Mansfield's favourite working place.

The ongoing sponsorship of the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship is provided by Meridian Energy, the largest electricity generator in New Zealand. "Poetry and storytelling are important components of New Zealand culture," says Alan Seay, spokesman for Meridian Energy. "As a company owned by the people of New Zealand, we feel that our support for writers is giving something unique to the entire country. We're very proud of the contribution we make towards a strong and vibrant creative sector in this country."

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