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University assignment wins travel writing prize

University assignment wins travel writing prize

A university assignment has won Wellington extramural student Terence Wood $1000 and an award at the Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards, announced recently in Auckland.

On Top of the World, a story set in Greenland, was written as an assignment for the travel writing paper at Massey. It was the first time Mr Wood had entered a writing competition and he was “chuffed” to win the New Travel Writer of the Year award.

He says it is not easy to fit study into a busy life, but that deadlines can be useful, as they force you to write. The award includes a commission to write a travel article for AA Directions magazine.

Lecturer John Muirhead, from the School of English and Media Studies, says he is delighted with Mr Wood’s success. “Both of the tutors who looked at his assignment thought it a standout. We encourage students to write their stories as a literary essay with a strong central idea, not as a ‘destination’ piece, common in newspapers, where the writer takes the reader on a quick tour around the main attractions of a particular location.

“In this assignment, students were asked to write about a personal issue that arose in relation to the place they visited,” Dr Muirhead says. “That’s quite common in contemporary travel books. In an age of mass travel, writers find something new to say about even the most accessible destinations by exploring an experience of that place that is unique to them. In Mr Wood’s case, the destination – Greenland -– is perhaps not so common, but I think he simultaneously tells us a lot about the place and about the emotional state through which his perceptions are filtered.”

Interest in travel writing has grown since it was launched six years ago as an extramural paper. It is also taught internally at Massey’s Auckland and Palmerston North campuses, and from next year at the Wellington campus.

ENDS

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