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Words Change Lives - Literary Fellowship Opens Applications

Winning a writing fellowship changes the course of a writer’s life, opening doors and allowing writers to think and apply their craft. Applications for the 2020 Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship are now open. Virginia Woolf advocated for a room of one’s own – and the Grimshaw Sargeson provides a historic environment to write in, along with financial support and network opportunities.

The Fellowship, now in its 33rd year, is a national literary award offering published New Zealand writers, based both locally and internationally, the opportunity to focus on their craft full-time by providing an annual stipend of $20,000 and tenure at the Sargeson Centre in Auckland.

Acclaimed New Zealand-American poet Chloe Honum and Kiwi-Asian playwright-actor-director Chye-Ling Huang were the recipients of last year’s fellowship. Honum, a Pushcart Prize winner and Ruth Lilly Fellow has just finished up her half of the tenure and is now living back in Texas, leaving Chye-Ling with the remainder of the year to complete her placement.

“This fellowship has been running for over two decades now and I am so grateful to have been a part of it,” says Chloe Honum.

“I found writing at the Sargeson Centre very inspiring, both because of the location and of the fellows who had been there in the past. Overlooking Albert Park gave me a sense of solitude, while only being a short walk from the rhythms of Auckland city. At the same time, working in that space made me feel a part of the Fellowship’s legacy. I was honoured to be sitting at the same desk as other great New Zealand writers.”

Chye-Ling has just begun her four-month residency but is enjoying it so far. “The monetary support has freed up more time to concentrate on just writing, which is a huge luxury, and the location means that there’s always something going on. Aside from the gallery activity downstairs, the quirks of the city are endless and have inspired some new and unexpected material.

“There’s a romantic image I had in mind of a writer holed up in an exposed brick walled apartment sipping whisky and torturously scribbling into the night. My experience is more blasting music and dancing until inspiration strikes, too much coffee and wandering the city, and I’m excited to see where the next three months take me.

“It’s great that we are able to offer these well deserving authors and creatives the opportunity to focus solely on their literary work for a few months. It gives them the opportunity to delve deeper and explore ideas they might not otherwise be able to,” says Frank Sargeson Trust Chair Elizabeth Aitken-Rose.

“The aim of this Fellowship is to enhance and foster New Zealand’s literary landscape. It’s always exciting to see the work that our recipients create during their tenure, and we look forward to seeing what new ideas are put forward by this year’s talent.”

Aitken-Rose also says that it is wonderful to see a diverse range of authors apply for the Fellowship across all genres and encourages all established writers to consider applying, whether they are poets, biographers, playwrights or novelists.

“The contribution that they make to New Zealand’s culture is invaluable,” says Paul Grimshaw, Partner of Grimshaw & Co, “that’s why we continue to support New Zealand’s literary talent.”

Applications close on Friday 27 September 2019, with the tenure due to start on 1 April 2019.

Further information on the Fellowship is available here.

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