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Daren Kamali first Pacific writer awarded international residency in Iowa

16 Jul 2014

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Pacific poet, writer and musician Daren Kamali will undertake a three-month writer’s residency at the University of Iowa from August to November 2014.

Offered in partnership with Creative New Zealand, the residency allows a New Zealand writer to live and work at the University of Iowa in the United States and participate in its International Writing Program.

The first Pacific writer from New Zealand to be awarded the Creative New Zealand/University of Iowa residency, Auckland-based Daren will use the opportunity to write a collection of Pacific poems to complete his third book Ink Fish Writes Again.

“As an ambassador of contemporary New Zealand Pacific literature I am honoured and excited to bring a different element to the International Writing Program,” says Daren.

“The residency will give me the space and time to further develop ideas and complete another manuscript. I am also looking forward to connecting with other writers and networks, and sharing my Pacific knowledge and stories.”

Born in Fiji, Daren is of Fijian, Wallis and Futuna and Scottish heritage, and moved to New Zealand in 1992. Daren’s work is inspired from the Pacific Ocean, particularly drawing on his upbringing in Fiji and New Zealand. Daren performs his work, fusing chants, melodies, rhymes, spoken word, rap and harmonies in Fijian/ Pan Pacific style.

“We are thrilled that Daren is the first Pacific writer to undertake this residency,” says Creative New Zealand Arts Council Pacific representative Caren Rangi.

“Daren’s unique style of expressing his poetry combined with his Pacific heritage makes him a wonderful voice for New Zealand and the Pacific. We are very proud of him, and look forward to seeing how this experience further inspires and influences his work.”

Daren has a Bachelor degree in Creative Writing from the Manukau Institute of Technology. He published his first book Tales, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World in 2011. He worked on his second book Squid Out of Water (2014) while the resident writer of the 2012 Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency at the University of Hawai'i. He is the co-founder of the South Auckland Poets Collective and Niu Navigations. He has also been a teacher and mentor to many Pacific writers and artists.

The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program brings together writers from around the world to join the lively literary community on campus.

The annual residency offered by Creative New Zealand and the University is open to both emerging and established writers. Creative New Zealand supports the selected writer’s airfares, accommodation and living expenses for this opportunity. Daren will travel to Iowa in late August.

Previous recipients of the Residency include: Craig Cliff, Gordon McLauchlan, Vivienne Plumb, James Norcliffe, Penelope Todd, Brian Falkner, Kathy White, David Hill, Lynley Hood and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Jasmyne Chung
Communications Adviser, Creative New Zealand
T +64 4 498 0727 | M +64 27 838 8868