13 May 2015

NZ Young Writers Festival: More than just ink and paper

12:13 pm on 13 May 2015
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Photo: Unknown

Dunedin has been home to past New Zealand literary greats and now the city will be a venue for inspiring a new generation of writers.

New Zealand Young Writers Festival has 18 events over four days, from June 4-7, and every one of them is free.

One of the festival’s organisers, Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust co-chairman Aaron Hawkins, said there was a gap for a festival that aimed to nurture young and emerging writers in New Zealand.

 “A lot of the bid [for funding] was focused, and rightly so on the strength of our literary whakapapa but it’s meaningless - in my view - if we can’t use that to create the next wave of talent.”

Janet Frame, James K Baxter and Hone Tuwhare, amongst many others, all lived in Dunedin. Hawkins said last year the city became a UNESCO city of literature and the organisation has contributed $12,000 to make this year’s festival happen.

The festival programme tries to reflect the broad number of outlets now available to writers because of the rise of digital media, Hawkins said. “It’s not just about writing plays or short stories or writing novels, although all of those things are important and they are still happening.”

A workshop on how to translate a narrative into online forms such as YouTube and social media, a panel discussion on young Maori in new media and writing about reality television are all part of the line-up.  

“If you look at the challenges that are facing the publishing industry people will more and more be looking to other outlets to express themselves.”

For now, Hawkins is focussing on making sure the first festival is a success, but he hopes the festival to could become an annual pilgrimage for young writers from around the country.

For more info, check out the programme