New Zealand Young Writers Festival 2022: Igniting the imagination


Holiday dates: Thursday September 29 – Sunday October 2.

Complete program:
Available now online at ( and in the printed guide.

What: A four-day festival of workshops, discussions and performances for young writers and anyone who loves literature.

Pictures: Click here

The 8th New Zealand Young Writers Festival is set to rock Dunedin, the city of literature, to its Belletrist foundations. This year’s festival features several scintillating events curated by guest curator
Nathan Joe including Dirty Talk, True Review, Slam Champion Sandwichand Playwrights Aft3r 25. Nathan joins the festival after the world premiere of his ‘firecracker of a production’ (NZ Herald) Scenes from a Yellow Perildeveloped during Nathan’s time as 2019 NZYWF Writer-in-Residence.

The multi-talented also returns to the NZYWF Rebecca Hawkeswho will chair Climate poetry here and now, a sign
discussion featuring young writers from Dunedin and (via Zoom) sister City of Literature, Seattle. Rebecca co-edited the recently published (AUP) No other place to standan anthology of poetry on climate change, also developed during her time as NZWYF Writer-in-Residence in 2020. Rebecca is involved in several other events, such as facilitating her workshop Sweet poetry love lessons. She will perform as one of Show ponies, a festive mix of poetry, cabaret and fashion created by Freya Daly Sadgrove. This is the first South Island outing for the Ponies who blew up to a sold-out event in 2019 hailed by Motif Poetry as “a watershed moment for performance poetry in Wellington”. The NZYWF stable includes Sinead Overby (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau a Kai), Vanessa Crofsky and essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Wehi Wehi, Ngāti Raukawa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Pukeko, Clan Gunn) who will be joined by special guests from Otepoti .

This year’s NZYWF Writer-in-Residence is
Ben Wilson. Ben, an award-winning playwright from Tāmaki Makaurau, will spend a month at Robert Lord Writers Cottage working on a new play
Edward may remember forever. This one-man theater performance was inspired by his year-long journey through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) – a form of psychotherapy. As well as teaching drama at the Auckland Performing Arts Centre, Ben works for the Mental Health Foundation and will be leading an NZYWF workshop
Create safe spaces when writing about the tough stuff. Ben will also feature in Playwrights Aft3r 25a round table with other playwrights
Amy Wright and Nathan Joe
discuss if, and how, their professional life changed after winning Playmarket’s b425 competition in

Local additions to the lineup include rising stars from Dunedin Late flowering Who’s gonna do it
create repeat play You, me, her and the seaa drama by a local playwright Amy Wright. Originally from Canada but now living in Ōtepoti, Claire Lacey encourages experimentation and play in an introduction to sound poetry,
Sound It Out: a sound poetry workshop. Some festival favorites return like the Otago Poetry Slam where passionate local slammers compete for bragging rights and prizes, including the right to represent Otago at national championships. With a three-round knockout format and hard-hitting short poems, the slams are always popular with audiences, some of whom will be randomly chosen to be judges for the night. The NZYWF have partnered with Motif Poetry to organize the slam which will be hosted by their Director of Education and former UK Slam Champion Sarah Hirsch. Sara placed third at the World Slam Championships in 2014 and won the European Slam in Madrid in 2016. Those looking to develop slam skills can attend Sara’s Slam poetry workshop. These events are complemented by Slam Champion Sandwich where Sara will be joined by other slam champions, Nathan Joe, Emer Lyonsand Eric Soakai
to share anecdotes, stories and read some of their previous award-winning work. Also returning to the program are three-day micro-residencies selected by Starling Online Journal for young writers. Two writers who have previously been published in Starling will be spending the festival at secret locations around town. They end their residency at the festival by discussing their experience during a panel discussion moderated by Starling Co-Editors
Louise Wallace and Francois Cookeand share the work they have created.

Continuing the festival’s pedigree of providing innovative workshops, the author Samuel Te Kani (Ngāpuhi, Tainui) exploring metaphor in
Tale and Reading of the Tarot. Presented as a hands-on workshop for all lovers of the mysterious art of tarot cards, Sam has written for publications such as Vice and Metro, and recently published a collection of short stories,
please call me jesus (Dead Bird Edition). Sex and eroticism are recurring themes in their work and during the first lockdown Sam pioneered personalized erotic fiction, which has become incredibly popular. Sam will be joining some of our other most transgressive and soft writers, including
Joshiah Morgan (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto) to probe the erotic and the abject as playgrounds for words and ideas in talking dirty.

The annual NZYWF is produced by the Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust and has become a favorite with local audiences and young writers across the country. Guest curator Nathan Joe has become a regular visitor: “What I liked about NZYWF is how all the writers converge in the city as a literary hub, which makes it much more writer-driven themselves and by the festival as an institution. It is a festival that reflects the future of literature in New Zealand and also reflects the many definitions of literature.

The full program is available now on the New Zealand Young Writers website ( and physical copies can be found around Dunedin. The festival will kick off on September 29 at Te Whare o Rukutia, formerly the Community Gallery, at 20 Princes Street.

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