The FINANCIAL -- Sir James Wallace has presented the first Sir James Wallace
Masters in Creative Writing Award and scholarships at a ceremony held at
The University of Auckland.
Margie Thomson, 2012 Masters in Creative Writing graduate, was announced the inaugural award winner, with 2013 Masters students Tessa Priest and Liz Langbrown announced the scholarship winners.
“I was delighted to present these awards to three very deserving women, and look forward to hearing both of their successes, and that of future graduates from The University of Auckland’s Masters of Creative Writing. The University holds a strong history of powerful literary voices impacting both nationally and internationally,” says Sir James Wallace.
Award winner Margie Thomson was deeply grateful and appreciative of the prize.
“It is a great honour to be the first recipient of such a prestigious award. The Masters in Creative Writing has left me with a massive manuscript which needs to be re-thought and rewritten. My goal is to complete a second draft by the end of the year so the $5000 from the Sir James Wallace award is greatly appreciated – I will feel a lot less guilty giving time to my manuscript,” says Margie
Margie hails from a journalism background having worked for the NZ Herald for many years as both features writer and then books editor for Canvas magazine, as books editor for the Herald on Sunday and Next magazine, and most recently for the Dominion Post's Your Weekend magazine. Now a contract writer to various international publishers, Margie has written books for a variety of New Zealand celebrities.
“Writing fiction is a very different proposition from journalism and contract writing.
“The Masters in Creative Writing provided me with a strong context to just keep on going and get the words down. Without such a structure there is no deadline, and no rein on perfectionism and self doubt. The MCW was tremendously helpful in this way. It is a ‘gift economy’ - you learn from talking about and critiquing each others' work,” says Margie.
The awards aim to encourage developing writers with high potential into the Masters in Creative Writing, and to provide the opportunity for the top-performing student to spend the months needed to turn a course project into a publishable book. As the University of Auckland said, the two fees scholarships were awarded to students with the best portfolios in the 2013 intake, and the $5,000 award to the student who submitted the best end-of-year work for the 2012 programme.
Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd says he speaks for his Department of English and for the University in welcoming these awards as a way of boosting the talent already in Auckland and of drawing still more to the city.
“Margie Thomson has been well known as a journalist in Auckland and has also been a ghostwriter for Auckland publishers. How wonderful that her award will help her turn what she learned here as a creative writer into a work of fiction in her own name.
“And how splendid that Liz Langbrown, just arrived in Auckland from Wellington, and Tessa Priest, just arrived here from Whanganui, fulfill the aim of the scholarship, to draw talent from across the country, in its very first year. As both mothers of children just getting old enough to allow them more writing time to themselves, they’ll appreciate this support enormously,” says Professor Boyd.
The Masters of Creative Writing adds further strength to The University of Auckland English Department, which has fostered talent from Allen Curnow, C. K. Stead and Maurice Gee through to Toa Fraser, Glenn Colquhoun and Selina Tusitala Marsh.