Another Fabulous Four

A couple of weeks ago I leaked the names of four of our October Writing Workshop presenters in this blog post… and here come the rest!

That’s right, there’s more…

And did you hear that this whole shebang is free? Thanks to CreativeNZ, the Canterbury Society of Authors branch can put on this brilliant weekend without charging anyone a penny—handy, given how few and far between pennies are these days.

So, without further ado, here come the rest of the presenters!


Harry Ricketts

Harry RickettsHarry Ricketts is a co-editor and reviewer for NEW ZEALAND BOOKS. Harry is a scholar and anthologist, poet and biographer, cricket-nut and teacher. He’s been a professor at Victoria University in Wellington since 1981 and convenes the Creative Nonfiction Workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

Harry has published ten collections of his own poems, most recently HALF DARK. And he’s done a heap of work to support NZ poets: interviewing a raft of them for his book TALKING ABOUT OURSELVES, collating comic New Zealand verse in HOW YOU DOING? and writing 99 WAYS INTO NEW ZEALAND POETRY with Paula Green.

He co-edited ESSENTIAL NEW ZEALAND POEMS: FACING THE EMPTY PAGE with James Norcliffe and Siobhan Harvey, collected the best of NZ’s spiritual poetry (with Paul Morris and Mike Grimshaw) in SPIRIT IN A STRANGE LAND, and contributed to STRANGE MEETINGS: THE POETS OF THE GREAT WAR, a biography of a dozen World War I poets.

But his savvy is by no means limited to poetry. Harry co-edited THE PENGUIN BOOK OF NEW ZEALAND WAR WRITING with Gavin McLean and HOW WE REMEMBER: NEW ZEALANDERS AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR with Charles Ferral. For something completely different, he gave us THE AWA BOOK OF NEW ZEALAND SPORTS WRITING, as well as an essay called, “How to Catch a Cricket Match,” and another called “How to Live Elsewhere.” But perhaps his best known work is his biography of Rudyard Kipling, THE UNFORGIVING MINUTE.

So, we are very excited to have this brilliant guy and his many-feathered cap (I’m picturing a cricket hat with rainbow feathers and a poppy… go on) come down to Christchurch and run a workshop.

Harry’s session:

Borrowing the Editor’s Eyes

Harry has been reworking his own words and wrangling other people’s for decades now. How great would it be to borrow his editor-lenses for a day?


Sorry, best you’re going to get is 90 minutes, but maybe you can follow him around at tea break.

Harry’s going to give us some insight into how he edits his own writing and how a professional editor approaches submissions. Want to make your work shine? Want to sashay to the stop of the slush pile? And be adored? And published?

Bring along one page—the first page of something you’d like to submit—and you can apply Harry’s advice right then and there!


Sarah Laing

sarah laingSarah Laing is another brilliant Wellingtonian who isn’t really from Wellington. Sarah is one of my absolute favourite web comic creators… that’s right, she can draw and write. She’s one of those people.

After winning the Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition in 2006, she published a collection of stories and two novels: THE FALL OF LIGHT and DEAD PEOPLE’S MUSIC. She’s won fellowships at the Michael King Writers Centre, the Sargeson Centre, and The University of Auckland. She co-edited THREE WORDS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF AOTEAROA/NZ WOMEN COMICS and her own cartoons are often to be found in Metro and Little Treasures, as well as on her brilliant blog.

Her comics are often autobiographical and tend to be current and spontaneous and, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air. And this October she’s publishing a book-length one! MANSFIELD AND ME is a graphic novel that examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes. It charts the author’s own journey towards publication and parenthood against Katherine Mansfield’s dramatic story. This memoir-meets-biography-meets-fantasy is set in London, Paris, New York and New Zealand.

Way to skip past all the other books on my to-be-read list, Sarah. That’s cheating.

I want that book

Sarah is currently working on an exhibition for the Katherine Mansfield House and Garden, ie. where Mansfield herself was born. Sarah also plans on completing a children’s graphic novel in the near future and hopes to kick-off a new contemporary novel.

So go ahead and develop a taste for Sarah’s work because there’s plenty more where that came from. Go, Sarah!

Sarah’s session:

Telling Tales in Technicolour!

In Sarah’s comics, she weaves images and words together into cohesive stories. Doing this well requires so much more than swish skill with a pencil. Sarah will discuss her process, how she draws from her life, snatching words and images from the real world, and translating them into a succinct narrative.

I’ve been amazed by what Sarah can do with only a handful of apparently simple drawings and snippets of dialogue and captions. I can’t wait to see behind the curtain into how she pulls this off.



Brian Turner

BrianTurnerBrian Turner is one of New Zealand’s foremost poets. He is a southerner and has spent much of his life outdoors in this brilliant country, which certainly comes through in his work.

The Oxford Anthology of New Zealand literature says of him…

‘Beneath the wit, the no-nonsense honesty, the rigorous clarity of sense and the sinewy rhythmic energy of the poems’ surfaces runs the craft of a sophisticated, confident and well-read poet [with] echoes of Berryman, Merwin, Durcan, Baxter. [His poems impress with their] complex sound structures and a fine vibrant lyricism, the more singing because anchored so naturally in observed reality…’

From 2003-2005 he was the Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate. In 2009 he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry and the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award. In the same year his book INTO THE WIDER WORLD was shortlisted for the Montana Book Awards. The following year JUST THIS won the NZ Post Book Award for Poetry.

Brian has published numerous collections of poetry and essays, as well as sports biographies and autobiographical works, short fiction and plays.

And Brian is about to put out another book of poetry, NIGHT FISHING.


The man is undeniably prolific and I don’t think it’s a great leap to say this springs from his passion about his subject matter. His keynote is one not to be missed—so you’ll be glad to know Brian’s session isn’t on during any other sessions. That’s right, nothing else is happening at the same time. You don’t have to choose between this and some other equally-irresistible workshop.

Brian’s session…

No More Mr. Nice Poet

Brian will focus on the crucial role of New Zealand writers in addressing our environment.

Many writers express concern about the natural world, but we tend to be mild-mannered and polite about it. No doubt this comes from a desire to appear fair-minded, understanding and reasonable. Though our natural world is suffering extreme damage, we don’t want to come off as screw-loose extremists. But is our writing bold enough to trigger change? Is it time to find the courage to be combative? At what point is the only reasonable response a caustic one?


Rachel O’Connor

rachel o'connorRachel O’Connor is a writer, glass-maker, and pilsner aficionado. She’s from Christchurch originally but now lives on Auckland’s North shore.

Rachel is a seasoned traveler and teacher. She has taught Art, History and English all over the place. She spent a chunk of time in Greece, and drew on this for her novel, SALONIKA, which is about the struggles of three women—an Irish Catholic, a Greek Orthodox, and a Sephardi Jewess—living in that city in the early twentieth century.

Rachel is a big believer in the value of art, poetry, music and theatre in education—woman after my own heart! She directed the Manhattan Theater’s International Theatrelink Project in New York City and Greece. She coached Model United Nations Teams in Paris, Constantinople and Brussels. She’s been a photographer and exam-writer. Basically, she’s done all sorts!


Rachel tutored undergraduate Creative Writing at Auckland University while she completed her Masters in Creative Writing. Her novel, SALONIKA, earned her first class honours and a literary agent! That’s right, Rachel is that rare breed, a New Zealand author who’s starting out with a literary agent.

Rachel’s session:

Landing a London Literary Agent

Rachel is represented by Literary Agent Judith Murray, of Greene & Heaton in London. In this workshop, Rachel will share with us how she found an agent: the ups and downs and lessons learned… She will cover targeting, contacting and building a working relationship with a literary agent, including preparing your manuscript, synopsis and query letter, as well as managing records of submissions and responses.

If you’re looking to find an advocate for your manuscript in the wider world of publishing, this session will be a great jumping-off point.


That’s them! Eight brilliant writers covering all the genres and different stages of the writing journey. The weekend is going to be such a treat. Mark your diaries, folks:

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 October 2016
@ South Library, Colombo Street

And did I mention it’s FREE? All our love and devotion to CreativeNZ for supporting this.

Registrations are now open!


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