New Writer in Residence to explore poetry and music in 2016

15 December 2015

Steven Toussaint
Steven Toussaint is the University's Writer in Residence for 2016.
American-born poet Steven Toussaint has been appointed as the University of Waikato’s Writer in Residence for 2016 and he intends to devote the year to completing his third book of poetry.

“I hope to expand upon much of the work I took up during the course of my PhD, specifically my studies into musical composition, theory, and history,” says Mr Toussaint.

“I am deeply interested in what emerges from the collusion of poetry and music, what it suggests about duration – our experience of time passing – and the significance of repetition. I am excited to start the year with a quiet room, a broad desk, and a library card,” he says.

Taking up the position in January, Mr Toussaint plans to dive initially into some of Olivier Messiaen’s organ works to see what he might draw from them.

“For me, there’s always a great deal of research and sketching before the poems start to come together. I also hope to allocate some time to critical writing, specifically on the intersections between poetry, religion, and music,” he says.

Mr Toussaint immigrated to New Zealand with his partner in 2010 after graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In addition to numerous publications in literary journals, he has published a chapbook Fiddlehead with Auckland-based outfit Compound Press in 2014, and his first full-length collection of poems The Bellfounder was published in 2015 by American publisher The Cultural Society. He completed a PhD in 2015 at the International Institute of Modern Letters.

The 2015 Writer in Residence, Mandy Hager, has enjoyed an eventful year speaking and facilitating at a number of literary events and workshops, as well as winning a number of awards for her book Singing Home the Whale including, the ‘Margaret Mahy Book of the Year’ and ‘Best Young Adult Fiction’ at the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards and the ‘Notable Book Award’ from Storylines Trust. Hager dedicated the year to completing a 130,000 word novel about the doomed 12th century love affair between the French nun and scholar Heloise d'Argeneuil and her teacher Peter Abélard.

The University of Waikato Writer in Residence is jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand. The position is open to poets, novelists, short story writers, dramatists, and writers of serious non-fiction.

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