Writing course participants seek inspiration through exploration

By John Gibb, Otago Daily Times | Posted: Wednesday January 23, 2019

A group of writers visited Port Chalmers yesterday as part of a short course, inspired by Dunedin, City of Literature, and which aimed to ''nurture your muse and exercise your writing muscles''.

The week-long University of Otago course is presented by former Otago Burns Fellow and award-winning poet and fiction writer Sue Wootton.

The second day of the ''Through a Poet's Eyes'' course included a morning trip to Observation Point, Port Chalmers, and, after lunch at Careys Bay, ended with an afternoon trip to Aramoana and a nearby salt marsh.

Linked to the trip to Observation Point and the port, the six participants reflected on different literary perspectives, including ''Tongue-stump of headland bandaged with concrete'', Cilla McQueen's response to the controversial expansion of the port area in 1993, in a poem titled The Mess We Made at Port Chalmers.

And Solstice, Port Chalmers, a poem by Ms Wootton, suggested: ''The sky is milky, a soft cheek proffered/for kissing by an aunt who leans in close''.

Dr Elizabeth Mornin, a medical doctor at Dunedin Hospital, was yesterday enjoying the course and its ''nice introduction to Dunedin poets and where they've lived''.

Novelist Kate Genet, of Waipahi, West Otago, was ''absolutely loving'' the course and ''just the whole idea of being completely immersed in poetry and the place where it was being written''.

On Monday, on the first day of the field trip, the writers visited Montgomery Avenue, where Dunedin poet Peter Olds once lived.

The writers also visited the Northern Cemetery, and the grave of Thomas Bracken, the former Dunedin MP, poet and the author of God Defend New Zealand.

Ms Wootton explained that through field trips, the course participants would be ''physically exploring Dunedin's literary history'' and would write poems ''in response to the landscape, architecture, climate and culture''.

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