Writers’ voices heard through diverse works

Dan Davin 2020 Creative Writing Awards student category judge Sarah McCarthy (left), of Invercargill, with Southland Boys' High School pupil Oshadha Perera, of Invercargill, holding his collection of certificates and open category judge Kay McKenzie Cooke, of Dunedin, at the Dan Davin Literary Foundation awards ceremony at the Kelvin Hotel on Friday.

SOUTHLAND Boys’ High School pupil Oshadha Perera took home a handful of prizes from the Dan Davin 2020 Creative Writing Awards on Friday.

Dan Davin Literary Foundation chair Rebecca Amundsen said instead of only accepting short stories this year in the school’s section, the competition had been opened to include creative writing, resulting in a diversity of entries from poetry, memoirs, scripts, personal essays, speeches and short stories.

Adult Poetry category co-judge Kay McKenzie Cooke, of Dunedin, said there had been a diverse range of entries from first-timers and novices to well-established writers with a variety of writing styles from old-fashioned ballads and rhyming to modern interpretations.

When critiquing a person’s work, it was important to “hear the poet’s voice come through”, she said.

The poetry the younger writers wrote, “was fantastic, so fresh and vivid”.

In the Adult Poetry category, there were 46 entries from 30 poets.

In the Junior Literary category there were 27 entries from 25 pupils, and in the Senior Student Literary category, there were 71 entries from 62 senior pupils.

Perera took out first equal in the Junior Literary Award with Air Filled Vacuums and a poem, Aliens. He also won third equal with Touching the Space.

First equal in the Senior Student Literary category were Levi Mennell, Stand Up for Yourself, and Coby Musgrave, Going for a Hoon(poem), both from Riverton’s Aparima College.

In the Adult Poetry category, first place went to Ariana Sutton for her poem titled Salt.

Hosted by the Dan Davin Literary Foundation, which supports and promotes creative writing in Southland, the annual competition was an acknowledgement of one of Southland’s most prolific and important writers, Dan Davin (1913-1990). Davin was born and schooled in Invercargill, before attending his final year of school in Auckland.

He won a university scholarship to the University of Otago, and a Rhodes Scholarship in 1935 to study at Oxford in England. He served in World War 2 in the British Army before being transferred to the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces where he served as an intelligence officer.

After the war, he wrote Crete, the war history and various other novels based in New Zealand.

Ms Amundsen said the Foundation would also host the inaugural Southland Writers’ and Readers’ Festival next month to celebrate Southland writers.

The five-day event from Thursday, October 15, to Tuesday, October 20, would include Pecha Kucha presentations, a family book-themed quiz night, workshops with author Kyle Mewburn and Pauline Smith, myths and storytelling, an insight into writing a memoir, music and songwriting workshops, The Secret Life of Librarians and the opportunity to have afternoon tea with poet and artist, Dr Cilla McQueen, of Bluff.

  • For more information go to the Dan Davin Literary Foundation website.

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