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Next generation of writing laureates

New Zealand Young Writers Festival 2019

16 September 2019 – For Immediate Release

Next generation of writing laureates set to shake up City of Literature.

After an extensive search for the hottest new writing talent across the country, the fifth incarnation of the New Zealand Young Writer’s Festival will ignite Dunedin in early October. With a bold line-up of talented creatives unafraid to challenge the status quo, the programme features 17 free events across four days and is genuinely for, and by, young writers.

Self-publishing, visceral writing, slam poetry, lessons from the horror genre, and covering yourself in snakes for fun are all some of the topics to be presented. Workshops, panel discussions, performances, and poetry slams are all part of the mix, along with the welcome return of a previously popular social event: a spelling bee hosted by current Burns Fellow Emily Duncan.

Festival producer Gareth McMillan is especially pleased with the evolution. ‘Our amazing young wordsmiths are winning awards and forging successful careers across the county, but the festival brings them together to network, and share their knowledge and expertise. This benefits not only their own professional development but also the next tier of career writers, or those who write for personal pleasure.’

Collaboration has always been a hallmark of the NZYWF, and this year the Robert Lord Cottage Trust have provided accommodation for an inaugural young writer in residence. Christchurch playwright Nathan Joe, winner of Playmarket’s b425 award in 2015 and 2016, will develop new work through his residency including Scenes From a Yellow Peril, which will be presented in a public reading as part of the festival. A collaboration with Starling Online Literary Journal has enabled ‘micro residencies’ for three young writers to be hosted in local art galleries over a weekend, a concept developed by Litcrawl/Verb Wellington. The Ōtepoti Theatre Lab are using the festival to launch their latest project a bi-weekly writers group to strengthen and support the local sector.

Aspiring young writers are encouraged to get involved with the free workshops and events selected after a nationwide call for expressions of interest for content presenters. USA Today bestselling author, blogger and heavy metal maiden Steff Green (writing as Steffanie Holmes) shares her knowledge and tips for self-publishing. Award-winning poet Eliana Grey and current NZ Poetry Slam champion Jordan Hamel embrace all that is terrifying about being a young writer in Fear Factory. Presenting a panel of special guests, Grey and Hamel will facilitate an open discussion on the very real fears surrounding writing. Theatre practitioner Alex Lodge will lead a workshop focusing on rewriting our perception of Aotearoa’s history through devised theatre.

Other events include a slam poetry workshop with Daisy Lavea-Timo (2017 NZ Slam Poetry Champion), and an exhibition featuring poetry transformed into visual art. Studio Vignettes is curated by poet Isla Thomas and will culminate in a live performance of the exhibited work from local creatives. The horror genre as inspiration forms the basis of Kerry Lane’s event which consists of a spine-tingling presentation followed by a workshop.

While the festival proudly champions the work of a younger demographic of writers, events are not age exclusive. Some are especially open to all ages, including the Otago Poetry Slam with the winner receiving sponsored entry to the National Slam Competition at the end of the year.


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