WORD Christchurch http://wordchristchurch.co.nz WORD Christchurch presents international and New Zealand novelists, poets, playwrights, biographers, journalists, bloggers Mon, 09 Apr 2018 02:38:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.22 WORD Christchurch presents international and New Zealand novelists, poets, playwrights, biographers, journalists, bloggers WORD Christchurch presents international and New Zealand novelists, poets, playwrights, biographers, journalists, bloggers WORD Christchurch http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/wordchch/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://wordchristchurch.co.nz NEW ZEALAND FILM FESTIVAL PICKS http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/new-zealand-film-festival-picks/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/new-zealand-film-festival-picks/#comments Thu, 03 Aug 2017 01:15:41 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1816 AMonsterCalls_Pic#04


The New Zealand International Film Festival is upon us, and our programme director Rachael King makes some literary picks.

Bill Direen: A Memory of Others
Bill Direen is best known as a musician, but he is also a poet and a novelist. This film promises to be in-depth exploration of music and writing, and includes homages to Janet Frame in Oamaru and James K. Baxter in Jerusalem.

Free Theatre
I’ve included this because it tells the story of our friends at Christchurch’s Free Theatre, who stage challenging and literary work, and it is made by the wonderful Shirley Horrocks.

The Workshop
Who can resist a film set in that hotbed of suspense and transgression — a writing workshop?

Ethel & Ernest
An animated feature based on the graphic novel by the amazing Raymond Briggs whose work intrigued, enchanted and scared the hell out of me when I was a child.

A Monster Calls
I sobbed my face off reading Patrick Ness’s novel and I can’t wait to see the story of a boy dealing with his mother’s cancer, and a monster that won’t leave him alone (could the two be related? Spoiler: yes), brought to the big screen.

The Lost City of Z
The fascinating story of Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett, based on the book by David Grann. Secretly I’m hoping that films of books about the Amazon will catch on.

Swallows and Amazons
Finally! Arthur Ransome’s much-loved children’s novel that fuelled many a young sailor’s dreams of independence and adventure.

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Dynamic New Zealand writers to feature at Edinburgh’s prestigious literary festival http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/dynamic-new-zealand-writers-to-feature-at-edinburghs-prestigious-literary-festival/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/dynamic-new-zealand-writers-to-feature-at-edinburghs-prestigious-literary-festival/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:08:46 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1697 composite image

New Zealand writers making waves at home and abroad will present their work and participate in the prestigious Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.

A new partnership between the festival, WORD Christchurch and Creative New Zealand has resulted in the talented line-up of New Zealand writers, all with acclaimed books, set to make an impression at the renowned literary event.

The writers are award-winning and wildly popular Wellington poet Hera Lindsay Bird, critically acclaimed Auckland poet, playwright and fiction writer Courtenay Sina Meredith, and best-selling Wellington novelist, comic artist and blogger Sarah Laing. They will be accompanied by Rachael King, author and programme director of WORD Christchurch, who has worked with the festival to select the writers and curate their events.

Participation in the festival is part of the New Zealand at Edinburgh 2017 season which sees the return of a New Zealand season across the various Edinburgh festivals taking place in August. This follows an ambitious and successful presentation in 2014.

With the theme of Brave New Words, this year’s book festival programme features more than 1000 authors from 45 countries.

Hera Lindsay Bird will appear with recent Ted Hughes prize-winner Hollie McNish in Poetry Superstars, and perform in a late night spoken word showcase. Courtney Sina Meredith will join a 21st Century Women panel, curated by guest selectors Roxane Gay and Jackie Kay. Meredith will also appear alongside Scottish poet and musician MacGillivray in Reshuffling the Pack.  Sarah Laing will host a reading workshop of Katherine Mansfield stories, as well as talk about her book Mansfield & Me alongside English comic creator Hannah Berry in Graphic Novels of Influential Women.  Rachael King will also appear in the children’s programme.

“We are thrilled that the relationships developed during previous seasons have resulted in this new partnership. It will expose the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s audiences to new and talented voices from Aotearoa and provide a dynamic international networking opportunity for the writers,” said Creative New Zealand senior manager for international, Cath Cardiff.

The festival expressed an interest in working with a local partner to bring New Zealand authors to its programme. This worked well with WORD Christchurch’s aspirations to engage more with international partners and to promote New Zealand literature overseas.

“We are delighted to be working with WORD Christchurch this year and we are very much looking forward to welcoming some of New Zealand’s wonderful writers to the book festival in August,” said Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Nicky Barley.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Edinburgh International Book Festival on programming New Zealand writers into some fantastic events that will showcase their talents and ensure maximum exposure for their work,” said Rachael King.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and is now a key event in the August festival season. It has grown rapidly in size and scope to become the largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world. In its first year the book festival hosted 30 events, now it programmes more than 800 events attracting around 220,000 visitors.

To support the writers to attend the festival Creative New Zealand has provided $20,000 towards airfares, accommodation and administration costs.


Hera Lindsay Bird has an MA in poetry from the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington where she won the 2011 Adam Prize for best folio. Her debut, self-titled book of poetry HERA LINDSAY BIRD was published in July 2016 by Victoria University Press (VUP). It has become the fastest selling, most popular book of poetry the VUP has ever published, and won Best First Book of Poetry at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.


Courtney Sina Meredith is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician. Her play Rushing Dolls (2010) won a number of awards and was published by Playmarket in 2012. She launched her first published book of poetry, Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (Beatnik), at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, and has since published a short story collection, Tail of the Taniwha (2016) to critical acclaim. She has been selected for a number of international writers’ residencies. Meredith describes her writing as an “ongoing discussion of contemporary urban life with an underlying Pacific politique”. She is of Samoan, Mangaian and Irish descent.


Sarah Laing is the author of two novels, Dead People’s Music and Fall of Light, and a short story collection, Coming Up Roses. With a background in illustration and design, she runs the popular comic blog Let Me Be Frank, which she started when she held the Frank Sargeson Fellowship in 2008. She has contributed comics to magazines, illustrated children’s books, and co-edited Three Words: An Anthology of Aotearoa/NZ Women’s Comics. Her latest book, Mansfield & Me, is a graphic biography and memoir, which compares the life of New Zealand’s most famous writer Katherine Mansfield, to Sarah’s own life of creativity, insecurity and celebrity obsession.


Rachael King has been the programme director of WORD Christchurch since 2013. She is the author of two books for adults, The Sound of Butterflies (winner of Best First Novel at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards) and Magpie Hall (long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and one for children, Red Rocks, which won New Zealand’s longest-running literary award, the Esther Glen Medal. Her work has been translated into eight languages and has garnered critical praise worldwide.


For more information contact:
Helen Isbister
Communications Manager
04 473 0187

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2016 FESTIVAL – IT’S A WRAP! http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/2016-festival-its-a-wrap/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/2016-festival-its-a-wrap/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2016 03:40:30 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1503 What a festival we had! Our team has been recovering from what was a crazy, illuminating, stimulating, challenging and entertaining few days. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. The Piano proved itself to be a stunning venue, perfectly suited to our needs and the needs of our audience. We took some risks and experimented with other pop-up venues, and they worked well, adding character and (a pinch of controlled chaos) to the programme. All in all, it was exhausting, exhilarating and wonderful from our side.

Thank you for your huge and enthusiastic support and attendance. With more than 12,000 individual session seats filled across the festival and schools programmes, we have increased our audience by a whopping 50 per cent on last festival.

We are grateful for all the media coverage the festival received, the enthusiastic tweeters and bloggers, and for those who simply talked about the festival and spread the word.

There are so many high points, but here are a few:

The introduction of the New Regent St pop-up festival created a real buzz and warmth out on the street and in the bars on the freezing opening night. A huge thanks to our co-ordinator Sionainn Byrnes for making it so welcoming.

The Friday night Isaac Theatre Royal events, 2050 and The Stars Are on Fire, both hosted expertly by Kim Hill, attracted an audience of 870 over both events and led to a visiting Canadian literary festival director calling them “world-class”.

Speaking of Canadians, everybody fell in love with storyteller Ivan Coyote at the Stars Are on Fire, and much like Anis Mojgani did in 2014, Ivan picked up followers at all their events until their Sunday morning session was a sell-out, with other festival writers lining the walls. Tears, laughter and a standing ovation ensued.

Caitlin Doughty similarly charmed and challenged everyone with her take on death, smilingly describing what happens to your body when you are cremated, declaring that after you die, your cat will eat your eyeballs given a chance, but also offering up some serious food for thought around issues of death and dying. Caitlin’s session was also a sell-out.

The Bloomsbury South session at the Christchurch Art Gallery sold out tickets and then everyone turned around and bought Peter Simpson’s book at the subsequent launch, cleaning UBS out of all their stock.
Serious issues were explored: euthanasia, grief, the future of our cities, water, the environment, migration, sex work, indigenous rights, the future of journalism, with all sessions being full and with high audience attention and engagement. It was wonderful to see Christchurch people coming together to discuss the things that matter.

There was also some serious entertainment: The Unicorn brought the house down with his impromptu PechaKucha talk; The Spinoff hosted some late Saturday night shenanigans at C1; Flying Nun fans were treated to some extra songs by Graeme Downes (The Veraines) and Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins) long after the sell-out session was over; Hear My Voice had electrifying performances in spoken word that left the audience swooning; the Great New Zealand Crime Debate was as raucous as we predicted, if not more so; and the festival closed with the Nerd Degree, another belly-laugh-inducing session with special guests Alok Jha and the very quick-witted and funny Caitlin Doughty.

If you missed any sessions, fear not! We will be putting a selection of audio recordings up on our website as podcasts in the near future. Stay tuned.

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BECOME A SUPPORTER http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/become-a-supporter/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/become-a-supporter/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2016 02:36:28 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1489 WORD Christchurch is a charitable trust that presents the South Island’s largest international festival of literature and ideas, and we need your help.

Our objective: to bring the community together through their love of words in all their forms. Join the family by becoming a Patron or Supporter and help to bring the best writers and speakers to Christchurch, from around New Zealand and the world, to inform, entertain and inspire adults and children alike. We rely on support to keep ticket prices down and meet the costs associated with running a vibrant and essential festival.

Benefits include: invitations to programme launches and festival parties, discounts on tickets and much more. Go here for more information and to sign up. Sign up before Friday, 24 June to get acknowledgement in the 2016 programme.

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Anna Smaill long-listed for Man Booker http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/anna-smaill-long-listed-for-man-booker/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/anna-smaill-long-listed-for-man-booker/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 03:24:40 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1295 AnnaSmaill colour

We have hugely exciting news! New Zealand poet and novelist Anna Smaill, who is heading to Christchurch for WORD Christchurch’s Shifting Points of View programme in the Christchurch Arts Festival, has just been long-listed for the Man Booker prize for her superb novel The Chimes. The novel is set in a dystopian future where music has replaced the written word, and people’s memories are wiped every evening. It is written using exquisite language and tense plotting, and is a favourite in our office.

Anna joins luminaries such as Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler and Anne Enright to compete for a place on the shortlist, and for the final prize of £50,000. Anna is only the fifth New Zealander to secure a place on the list, after Keri Hulme, Patricia Grace, Lloyd Jones and of course Eleanor Catton. We wish her very warm congratulations and look forward to welcoming her to the Imaginary Cities panel on 30 August.

Anna Smaill was born in Auckland in 1979. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the IIML, and a PhD in contemporary American poetry from University College London. She is the author of a book of poetry, The Violinist in Spring, and her poems have been published in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. She has lived and worked in both Tokyo and London, and now lives in Wellington, with her husband, novelist Carl Shuker, and their daughter. The Chimes, her first novel, was published in 2015 to great international acclaim.

The Independent called Anna “2015’s most impressive new novelist”.

You can hear Anna interviewed by Kim Hill, and read an interview in The Independent.

featuring Fiona Farrell, Anna Smaill, Hamish Clayton and Hugh Nicholson,
chaired by Lara Strongman
Sunday, 30 August, 12—1.15pm
TVNZ Festival Club, The Arts Centre

The Chimes  copy

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2014 FESTIVAL WRAP-UP http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/2014-festival-wrap-up/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/2014-festival-wrap-up/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 23:25:43 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1137 Audience 1What a festival it was! Thank you for turning out in droves to watch and listen and to be inspired and entertained by the power of words. With more than 6000 seats filled across the festival, we are well and truly back to pre-quake audience numbers and more.

We are grateful for all the media coverage the festival received, the enthusiastic tweeters and bloggers, and for those who simply talked about the festival and spread the word.

There are so many high points, but here are a few:

John Campbell’s enthusiastic MCing in the Transitional Cathedral for The Stars Are Out Tonight.
200 happy children and parents who turned out for our free family sessions on Saturday to listen to and meet some fantastic authors of picture books, junior and young adult fiction.

Eleanor Catton’s wisdom and extraordinary talent and intellect, in her long-awaited session in the Transitional Cathedral with Kate de Goldi. We could have listened to them talk all night.

Anis Mojgani, like an irresistible pied piper, gathering an audience as he went, by performing a poem each at Rising Voices, Pecha Kucha and The Stars Are Out Tonight, and at the Read Aloud Schools’ Day, until he had a full house for his Saturday evening session, Fiercely Hopeful. A triumph for poetry.

The Great New Zealand Crime Debate where the show was stolen, depending on who you talk to, by either Lianne Dalziel, Marcus Elliott, Steve Braunias, Meg Wolitzer or MC Joe Bennett. The debate is now well and truly a festival institution and we’re not sure how to top it next time, but we’ll try!

Kristin Hersh’s mesmerising performance in the Transitional Cathedral on Saturday night, where she received a standing ovation, and her brutal honesty in her songwriting panel that had the audience in tears at the Physics Room on Sunday. One publisher said in her 25 years in the business, it was the best and most moving festival session she’d ever been to.

Speaking of moving, we knew we’d made the right choice to deliver the inaugural Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture: Elizabeth Knox stunned everybody with her talk, ‘An Unreal House Filled With Real Storms’. Once word got out about the experience, anybody who wasn’t there to witness it soon wished they had been. Luckily for us, the lecture was recorded by Radio New Zealand and will be available as a podcast in the future, along with many other sessions.

The Sunday Fringe was a new addition to the festival and we succeeded in broadening the audience with a programme of quirky and interesting sessions that included a live theremin performance, poetry, songwriting, independent publishing and superhero comics, which offered something for a younger, less mainstream crowd. One young man declared to me that it was one of the best days of his life.

The festival also became a platform and forum for important political discussion. Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s session Foreign Correspondence was an early sell-out with 300 people attending to hear about Russia, the Ukraine and Edward Snowden, and the panel he shared with Nicky Hager on Saturday morning, Secrets, Spies and Free Speech, also sold out. We had no idea when we booked Nicky for the festival that he would be letting off the bomb that was Dirty Politics just prior, and when Judith Collins resigned that day and the media were clamouring to interview him, it seemed for a moment that WORD Christchurch was the centre of all things political.

The festival closed with Red Zones Green Frames and Blueprints: Rebuilding Christchurch, which took place in a packed room. Passions ran high, and more than one person mentioned to me how important it was to have a forum for discussions such as this one, and how good it was that so many influential festival participants from out of town were in attendance, who could witness the discussion and take it back to the North Island with them; to spread the word.

These are just a few highlights – I’m sure everyone who came will have their own set to mull over, and to discuss with their friends and family.

We would like to send out a huge thank you to all of our sponsors, and all of our writers and performers and chairpeople and publishers, but most of all, we’d like to thank you, our audience, who turned out in such huge numbers and showed your support. You made us feel as though we live in a real city again.

Thanks to Booksellers NZ and Christchurch City Libraries for their incredible coverage of festival events so you can read about sessions you weren’t able to attend.

And Giovanni Tiso reports on WORD Christchurch, and puts the festival in a wider political context, in Pantograph Punch.

You’ll be hearing from us again soon.
Rachael King

Literary Director

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Witi Ihimaera: Maori Boy http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/witi-ihimaera-maori-boy/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/witi-ihimaera-maori-boy/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 23:10:13 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=1131 Long celebrated as one of our great storytellers, some of With Ihimaera’s best stories, however, are about his own life. They have though —up until now —remained untold. Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood, which follows the author through his formative years until the age of 15, is a unique, powerful work which celebrates what it means to be Maori walking in a Pakeha world –- both the good and not so good.

This honest, stirring work tells of the loving family and community into which Witi was born, of his early life in rural New Zealand with his hard-working and proud parents; his sisters, of family secrets, of facing anguish and challenges, and of laughter and love. Many of the characters from real life have made their way into his fiction.

Come and hear these tales first-hand in what is sure to be a heart-warming event with a fine story-teller.

Read more

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‘WORD Festival the most successful yet,’ Tina Law, The Press, 1 Sept 2014 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/word-festival-the-most-successful-yet-tina-law-the-press-1-sept-2014/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/word-festival-the-most-successful-yet-tina-law-the-press-1-sept-2014/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:40:19 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=986 “Sold-out shows and thousands of attendees have made this year’s Christchurch writers festival one of the most successful yet, its organiser says. The four-day biennial WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival ended yesterday after about 5000 people attended 57 ticketed events led by 120 speakers from New Zealand and across the world.” Read More.

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‘WORD Festival offers new views on quake city,’ Philip Matthews, The Press, 1 Sept 2014 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/word-festival-offers-new-views-on-quake-city-philip-matthews-the-press-1-sept-2014/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/word-festival-offers-new-views-on-quake-city-philip-matthews-the-press-1-sept-2014/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:37:02 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=984 “People from outside Christchurch can help Cantabrians to see their strange, ruined and hopeful city in new ways.

Writer Elizabeth Knox sees Christchurch as “a city living in memory and expectation, with ghost streets and dream buildings”. It was a typically original view from one of New Zealand’s leading writers, who came to the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival yesterday to deliver the first Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture.

The festival has established the lecture to honour the memory of Mahy, the prolific and much-loved Christchurch writer who died in 2012. Knox’s lecture covered realism and fantasy in writing, illustrated through profound and often moving examples from her own experience.” Read More.

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‘Essays reflect on rebuild,’ Philip Matthews, The Press, 31 Aug 2014 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/essays-reflect-on-rebuild-philip-matthews-the-press-31-aug-2014/ http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/essays-reflect-on-rebuild-philip-matthews-the-press-31-aug-2014/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 02:35:12 +0000 http://wordchristchurch.co.nz/?p=982 “Those who spend a lot of time in central Christchurch will know about its strangeness but it can be hard to identify just what makes it strange.

Ryan Reynolds puts his finger on it in a new essay. Christchurch, he says, is a post city and a pre city. We look back and we look ahead. The present tense is limited to demolishing and tidying up the old while preparing to build the new.” Read More.

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