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Winners of 2013 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement

Creative New Zealand  |30 Oct . 2013

From left: Martin Edmond, Michele Leggott and Owen Marshall

From left: Martin Edmond, Michele Leggott with guide dog Olive and Owen Marshall

Three of New Zealand’s finest writers, Owen Marshall, Michele Leggott and Martin Edmond, will receive the 2013 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement, Creative New Zealand announced today.

Each will be awarded $60,000 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature. Owen Marshall will be honoured for fiction, Michele Leggott for poetry and Martin Edmond for non-fiction.

In congratulating the winners, the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Hon Chris Finlayson, said: “Last week, the excitement and export potential of New Zealand literature were obvious when Eleanor Catton became the youngest writer ever to win the Man Booker Prize. Every year, the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement reward our most committed writers in three genres, and make clear the Government’s ongoing commitment to creating our national literature.”

The Awards are administered by Creative New Zealand. Arts Council Chairman, Dr Dick Grant, also congratulated the writers. “These awards recognise the rich contribution New Zealand writers make to our artistic life. Each year, they serve to underscore the extraordinary quality and variety of our literature."

The writers will receive their awards in a ceremony held at Premier House, Wellington, on Tuesday 29 October.  The 2013 Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship winner, Fiona Farrell, will also be honoured at the ceremony.

Browse the photo's from the awards evening

Background

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement were established in 2003. Every year, New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of a writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction. New Zealand writers are also able to nominate themselves for these awards.

The nominations are assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations forwarded to the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.  This year’s selection panel was James George, Morrin Rout and Paul Diamond.

A full list of previous recipients can be found on the Creative New Zealand website.

The Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship is open to established writers of any literary genre who have already published a significant body of work. Valued at $100,000, it is awarded annually for a project that will take two or more years to complete.

Four of the best: free literary event

Four of New Zealand’s finest writers: Michele Leggott, Owen Marshall, Martin Edmond and Fiona Farrell, will read and discuss their work with MC Radio New Zealand’s Kathryn Ryan at City Gallery, Wellington, on Wednesday 30 October at 12.30pm.

This is a free Creative New Zealand event. All welcome.

Author Biographies

Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry: Michele Leggott

An award-winning poet, academic, essayist and editor, Michele Leggott was the inaugural New Zealand Poet Laureate 2007-09.  She is also a Professor of English at the University of Auckland.
Michele has published seven books of poetry, including Milk & Honey (2005, 2006), Journey to Portugal (2007) and Mirabile Dictu (2009). She edited Robin Hyde’s long poem The Book of Nadath (1999) and Young Knowledge: The Poems of Robin Hyde (2003).

A major project since 2001 has been the development of the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (nzepc) at the University of Auckland, a leading literary resource. Michele was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year Honours for Services to Poetry.

Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction: Owen Marshall

One of this country’s best-known authors, Owen Marshall has written or edited almost 30 books including novels, short stories and poetry. His short stories include Watch of Gryphons (2005), which was a finalist in the 2006 Montana Book Awards, and Living as a Moon (2009), which was joint runner up in the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

His novels include Harlequin Rex (1999), which won the Deutz medal for fiction in 2000; Drybread (2007); and The Larnachs (2011), which was long-listed for the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His poetry includes Sleepwalking in Antarctica (2010).

Owen was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for Services to Literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2012. He was also made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for Services to Literature in the 2000 New Year Honours.

Owen held the Katherine Mansfield fellowship in Menton in 1996 and the University of Otago Burns Fellowship in 1992. He received the 1988 New Zealand Literary Fund's Scholarship in Letters and the Arts Council Award for Achievement in 1990. He was the inaugural recipient in 2003 of the $100,000 Creative New Zealand Writers' Fellowship (since renamed in memory of Michael King).

Born in Te Kuiti, Owen has spent almost all his life in the South Island and worked for 20 years as a teacher. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury, which has awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Prime Minister’s Award for Non-fiction: Martin Edmond

Martin Edmond is the author of more than eight acclaimed non-fiction books, including The Autobiography of My Father (1992), The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont (1999) and Chronicle of the Unsung (2004), which won the Biography category at the 2005 Montana Book Awards.

Martin grew up in Ohakune. After university, he joined avant-garde theatre group Red Mole, touring extensively and internationally in the 1970s. He spent another five years working as a lighting designer for rock ‘n’ roll bands. Since 1981 he has lived in Sydney, working as an author and a screenwriter.  He has written the feature films Illustrious Energy (1988), Terra Nova (1998) and 33 Postcards (2011).

More recently he has written Luca Antara (2006); Waimarino County (2007); The Supply Party and Zone of the Marvellous (both 2009) and Dark Night – Walking with McCahon (2011), which was shortlisted for the 2013 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Martin has just completed a Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney; his thesis, a dual biography of painters Rex Battarbee and Albert Namatjira, will be published in 2014 by Giramondo. His current project is an account of the cryptic life and strange death of the convict artist Joseph Lycett. 

The 2013 Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship: Fiona Farrell

In 2013, Fiona received the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship, for which she is working on twin books concerning the rebuilding of a damaged city. Inspired by her experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes, both books will be called The Villa at the Edge of the Empire; one will be fiction and one non-fiction.

Fiona’s first publication, a collection of poems, was published in 1987. Since then, she has published two further poetry collections.  One of these, The Pop-Up Book of Invasions, was written while she held a residency in Donoughmore in Ireland, and was runner up for the 2006 Montana Poetry Award. She has also written several plays, including Chook Chook, which remains one of Playmarket New Zealand’s most frequently performed texts with more than 100 productions in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Her short stories have been widely anthologised, and her first novel, The Skinny Louie Book, won the 1992 New Zealand Book Award. She has published five subsequent novels, three of which have also been shortlisted for that award and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Most recently, she has published non-fiction, including The Broken Book, a collection of essays and poems connected with walking and the experience of the Christchurch earthquake, shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards in 2012. She has received various awards including the 1995 Mansfield Fellowship to Menton, the 2007 Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction, the 2011 Burns Fellowship at Otago University and the ONZM for Services to Literature in 2012.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Rebecca Lancashire
Senior Communications Adviser
Creative New Zealand
M +64 (0) 27 677 807

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