Each year the University of Waikato invites applications for the position of Writer in Residence – an award created to foster New Zealand writing by providing a full-time opportunity for a writer to work in an academic environment.
Jointly funded by the University of Waikato and Creative New Zealand, the position is open to poets, novelists, short story writers, dramatists and writers of serious non-fiction. There are no teaching or lecturing duties attached to the award, the sole purpose of which is to give the post holder the freedom to write.
Since its inception in 1991 the programme has hosted some of New Zealand’s most prominent writers including Tessa Duder, Michael King and Maurice Shadbolt. Wellington poet and 2018 Writer in Residence Therese Lloyd says residencies are fantastic opportunities for any writer. “Having the real time just to write is glorious,” she says. “Poetry and creative writing give you a chance to think about and re-imagine the world and your place in it. When you read something truly great, it’s beyond beneficial, it can be transformative.”
Therese's poems have appeared in print and online publications, including Sport, Landfall, Metro, and the AUP series New Zealand Poets in Performance. In 2006 she was awarded the Schaeffer Fellowship, allowing her to spend a year at the acclaimed Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her first full-length book of poetry Other Animals was published in 2013. After completing her PhD in creative writing in 2017, Therese published a collection of poems entitled The Facts.
Since taking up residency in January 2018, Therese has been working on two collections of poems. “The first is inspired by the work of five different poets, all women, and it borrows from both their written work and their life stories,” she says. “I've also been writing a lot of poetry about art. There have been some excellent exhibitions at the Waikato Museum this year and I've used those primarily for inspiration. I'm hopeful I will have two separate manuscripts by the time I finish the residency.”
The Writer in Residence is required to live in Hamilton during the tenure of the award, and Therese says staff and students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences have made her feel at home. “Everyone has been so welcoming,” she says. “Discovering the best soy milk flat whites has helped too. Kahurangi Café on campus never fails to impress.”
That’s not to say moving to a new city hasn’t been challenging for Therese. “My partner Marty lives in Wellington and sometimes I miss the simple routines of our daily lives. But then I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have this residency and a full year to write. Marty can wait!”
Therese says her biggest challenge prior to moving to Hamilton was lack of time to write, and it’s “wonderful” to be given the opportunity to write without distractions. “I've loved living in my wee apartment in South Hamilton – there are loads of pukeko around, and it’s only 10 minutes to uni,” she says. “I try to get down to the river as much as possible. Forgive the cliché but you really can feel its incredible power and the enormity of history that it holds.” Therese’s only gripe is rush hour traffic. “I know that sounds ridiculous, especially coming from Wellington where traffic is notoriously congested, but there’s a seemingly large number of those monster SUV trucks here.” And don’t get Therese started on the Duck Island ice cream shop on Grey Street. “I hold them solely responsible for the few extra pounds I've gained this year, solely responsible!”
Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Allison Kirkman says the faculty is honoured to have attracted a Writer in Residence of Therese’s calibre. “Students and staff have already benefitted immensely from her creative presence and her contribution to a vibrant literary culture, and luckily we still have a few months to go until her residency comes to an end. Therese has joined a very special group of writers who the University has been privileged to have had as Writers in Residence since 1991, and now that the 2019 applications are open we’re keen to encourage writers to apply for the award.”
Applications for the 2019 Writer in Residence are now open. Closing date is Friday 12 October 2019.