Literary conference takes shape

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REGISTRATIONS are rolling in for the inaugural Dan Davin Conference, which will be held in Invercargill next month.

The conference will discuss the New Zealand Short Story – its traditions and departures – and will be held at the Civic Theatre from September 1-3.

The conference would be an opportunity to celebrate Southland-born author Dan Davin, and the development of the New Zealand short story, Dan Davin Literary Foundation chairwoman Rebecca Amundsen said.

The conference is open to the public, and Ms Amundsen encouraged all those interested in the genre to attend.

“We’re really hoping locals will make the most of the opportunity to hear well-known writers and academics speak about the New Zealand short story.”

The programme will begin on Friday, September 1, with the annual Dan Davin Award presentation. It will also include a keynote address by Janet Wilson, examining the ways that the nation space of New Zealand/Aotearoa is imagined in short stories written over the last century. It will discuss how key writers have shaped images of the country in response to its diverse landscapes, its ‘ends of the earth’ location and different social and ethnic groups.

On Saturday, September 2, papers will be presented from a variety of writers and academics from throughout the country including Dame Fiona Kidman, Owen Marshall and Tracey Slaughter.

Kidman said New Zealand first took its place in world literature through short stories.

“Pioneers of the local form, like Katherine Mansfield, Frank Sargeson and Dan Davin, shone a light on our national identity that encouraged writers to believe that our own stories were worth telling,” she said.

“We have developed into a nation of diverse writers with multiple narratives demanding audiences everywhere. What are we doing to encourage and support this art form?”

Along with presenting, Kidman, Slaughter and Marshall will take part in a panel discussion Short Stories – How We Make Them with Wilson, chaired by Paula Morris.

Other presentations include writing short stories as an Irish-Kiwi, images that won’t leave, ghosts on Dee St, and the visibility and invisibility of New Zealand science fiction, fantasy and horror.

This will be followed by a formal dinner with local entertainment and cuisine.

On Sunday, September 3, conference participants will be taken on a bus trip to Bluff and Te Rau Aroha Marae. This will be followed by several more papers and a lunch featuring Bluff’s famous seafood.

For those able to stay into the afternoon, the bus trip will continue to Stirling Point, Motupohue (Bluff Hill) and Riverton.

Early-bird registration for full attendance (Friday awards, Saturday presentations and dinner, and Sunday bus trip) close on August 18 and is $200. After that the cost for full attendance is $220.

The cost to attend a single day of the conference, either Saturday or Sunday, is $120.

To register, go to www.dandavin.org.nz

Invercargill residents are eligible for a subsidy for their registration fee thanks to Creative Communities. Contact dandavin@xtra.co.nz for more information about the subsidy.

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