Prose Politics

By University Book Shop (Otago) Ltd | Posted: Thursday October 8, 2020

Distinguished Otago Alumna Returning to tepoti for UBS Emerging Writer in Residence

Ex MP Holly Walker is this year’s University Book Shop Emerging Writer in Residence, travelling to Dunedin in early January 2021.

Walker is the current Deputy Director of the Helen Clark Foundation and a past principal advisor to the office of the Children’s Commissioner. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University Wellington and lives in Lower Hutt with her partner and two daughters.

As a Rhodes Scholar, Walker completed an MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford University and is a University of Otago Graduate with an Honours degree in English and Politics. She was the editor of student magazine Critic Te Arohi in 2005.

She is the author of The Whole Intimate Mess: Motherhood, Politics, and Women's Writing (Bridget Williams Books, 2017), a short memoir about her experience of having a baby and experiencing post-natal distress while also serving as a Green MP. Since leaving politics in 2014 her reviews and essays have been widely published, including on The Spinoff, Landfall Review Online, RNZ, and in several edited collections.

While in Dunedin Walker will work on a collection of personal essays on parenthood, family, love, and trauma. The collection’s starting point is a violent crime and the essays explore the ripple effects of such an event. They deal with Pākehā identity, motherhood, mental health, incarceration, and the ethics of life writing.

Nonnita Rees, Chair of The Robert Lord Writers Cottage Trust, is excited to welcome Holly back to Dunedin and to help further the aims of the joint residency which continues to attract interesting and high calibre recipients.

“Each year we receive around 20-30 applications for the next residency with many accomplished writers applying,” says UBS General Manager, Phillippa Duffy. “We’re committed to supporting the next generation of New Zealand writers and, in some small way, help them ready their work for publication.”

Five years ago University Book Shop (Otago) acknowledged and celebrated the awarding of Dunedin’s UNESCO City of Literature status by creating this Emerging Writers Residency. The residency is delivered in partnership with the Robert Lord Writers Cottage Trust with the recipient spending six weeks in Ōtepoti with accommodation at the cottage and a stipend from the bookshop.

It runs parallel to the University of Otago Summer School, from early January until mid-February, enabling the writer access to the many and varied social, cultural and educational opportunities during this invigorating time on the Campus calendar.

Walker is available for interview in advance of taking up the residency.

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