Aimee-Jane Anderson-O'Connor

Bachelor of Arts

Master of Arts

English, Writing Studies

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Master of Arts
  • English
  • Writing Studies
  • Verge’s 2017 Emerging Writer of the Year Award
  • 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition

Growing up, Aimee-Jane always dreamt of becoming a writer. But after being told multiple times that it wasn’t a realistic career path, she nearly gave up. Now, with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts behind her, Aimee is about to start her PhD in creative writing, and she’s helping to give other writers a voice too.

Before she started university, Aimee had never written poetry, but she stumbled upon Catherine Chidgey’s summer school Writing Studies paper at the end of her first year. “I fell in love with poetry straight away, and from then on, I took as many papers as I could.”

Aimee soon started sending her poems to various journals, doubtful they would ever be picked up. To her surprise, her pieces were published by journals Tearaway, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, Starling, Mimicry , Verge, Minarets, and the University of Waikato’s Mayhem.

“I can still remember the first time my work was published – it was surreal,” Aimee says. “I built up the courage to submit my work to Starling, a journal for young emerging writers, and I got such a buzz when they published my piece.”

Aimee says that although the bounce-back rates can be high at times, her teachers and peers had prepared her to be resilient. “The support networks are strong and the papers teach you to be strategic.”

Her hard work has continued to pay off. Aimee won Verge’s 2017 Emerging Writer of the Year Award and the 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition.

Aimee wants to use her talent to give a voice to marginalised communities. She loves encouraging others to give writing a go, and tutors English and Creative Writing papers at the University.

“My goal is to use creative writing as a tool of representation for people who have had their voices taken away, whether that be people at risk, people in prison, or people who have otherwise been marginalised.”

Her PhD, entitled Poetry is the way to give voice to the silence, will do just that. She’s looking forward to seeing the exciting ideas and passion of people who are usually excluded from mainstream discourse.

“Outlets like Mayhem give many different voices a platform. There are many incredible people that could really do with a way of expressing themselves. Voice is key to understanding one another, and if we understand one another, we can make a better world.”

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