Writer in Residence
Each year the University of Waikato invites applications for the position of Writer in Residence, tenable for twelve months normally from February. The emolument is jointly funded by the University of Waikato and Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. The position is open to poets, novelists, short story writers, dramatists, and writers of serious non-fiction. The appointment will be made on the basis of a record of publications of high quality.
The Writer is required to live in Hamilton during the tenure of the award. There are no teaching or lecturing duties attached to the award, the sole purpose of which is to give the Writer the freedom to write. It is expected the Writer will participate in the cultural life of the University. On occasion the writer will be able to take up residence in and make use of the Michael King Writers Retreat in Opoutere.
2022 Writer in Residence - Diana Clarke
Diana Clarke is the Writer in Residence for 2022.
A novel exploring the cult-like logic of internet communities alongside organised religious groups such as Gloriavale and Scientology will be her focus.
Diana has been completing her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Utah, but returned home to New Zealand for the 12-month residency, jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand.
She says the impetus for her new book, Gleeville, has been driven by “the embarrassing amount of time” she has spent on her phone during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The internet is a petri dish for misinformation, and social media platforms allow for the amplification and dissemination of misinformed voices,” says Diana.
“The pandemic’s arrival really heightened this trend, and now the internet looks like a bunch of little cults, not unlike physical world cults, with online communities operating as echo chambers at war with other echo chambers.”
Gleeville will be her third book.
While she has been writing, studying, and teaching in America, Clarke has also devoted time to running informal writing workshops at a handful of anorexia recovery facilities around the United States. The relationship started when a facility manager called to say they wanted to stock her first book, Thin Girls (Harper Collins).
Diana, who experienced an eating disorder in her early 20s, drew on her own experiences for the novel that explores body image and queerness as well as toxic diet culture and the power of sisterhood, love, and lifelong friendships.
“I was quite dumbfounded when the centre called. The idea that the people I was thinking about when I wrote that book were now reading it.”
The writing workshops at the facility saw her help patients write about their experience or a letter to themselves or their family.
“I was in and out of anorexia recovery for about 18 months when I was in my early 20s and I started writing around that time too. I don’t want to say writing cured me, because it definitely did not, but having something to channel yourself into, having something that makes you feel productive, I think that did contribute to my recovery."
Her second novel, The Hop (Harper Collins), will be published in June and tells the story of how a poor girl coming of age in rural New Zealand grows to be a sex icon, the face of a movement, and a mother, all at the same time.
Diana spent a lot of time talking to sex workers in both New Zealand and America as part of her research for that story.
She expects Gleeville to be very different from her two previous works.
“The book is about cults at the thematic level, but it’s also a family drama. It’s about a millennial woman struggling with financial instability, becoming a nanny, and falling in love with a married man, or at least that is what the story is about now."
She says the residency at Waikato would not only provide the luxury to focus on her novel for a year, it would also provide the opportunity to immerse herself in the New Zealand literary community.
“I feel really lucky to have the residency at Waikato because I’ve always been a part-time writer, fitting my writing in around study and teaching. To have a full year to focus on nothing but writing is any writer’s dream.”
Clarke’s residency will overlap with Michalia Arathimos, the Writer in Residence for 2021, who will be on campus until the end of March.
Previous Writers in Residence
2021 Michalia Arathimos
2020 Richard von Sturmer
2019 Rosetta Allan
2018 Therese Lloyd
2017 Bob Orr
2016 Steven Toussaint
2015 Mandy Hager
2014 Dr John Newton
2013 Professor Andrew Sharp
2012 Michael Morrissey
2011 Jeffrey Holman
2010 Albert Belz
2009 Catherine Chidgey
2008 Christopher Bourke
2007 Ken Catran
2006 Peter Wells
2005 Tina Shaw
2004 No appointment
2003 Mitch Thomas
2002 Kate Camp
2001 Anna Jackson
2000 John Dickson
1999 Beryl Fletcher
1998 Elspeth Sandys
1997 John Cranna
1996 John Pule
1994 Michael King
1993 Mona Williams
1992 Maurice Shadbolt
1991 Tessa Duder