For the first time, a New Zealand writer will be chosen to go to Shanghai in 2014, with funding through NZ China Friendship Society, for an all-expenses-paid two months’ residency in that city, care of the prestigious Shanghai Writers’ Association. The New Zealand writer selected to go to Shanghai will join an established international programme run by the Shanghai Writers’ Association, the city’s most elite literary organisation. A writer from Shanghai will hold a similar fellowship at the Michael King Writers’ Centre here in New Zealand with funding through the NZ China Friendship Society in 2015. The programme takes place in September and October each year with up to seven writers from all over the world participating.
Applications for the Shanghai sponsorship close on March 7. New Zealanders can apply for the Shanghai residency from the end of January. Details and application form are available through the Michael King Writers’ Centre. The winner will be an experienced writer with already published works and there is no age restriction. A committee of five people, two people from NZCFS, two from the Michael King Writers’ Centre and one independent person, will decide the final shortlist of three. Those three names will then be sent to Shanghai where the Shanghai Writers’ Association will make the final choice.
The chair of the Michael King Writers’ Centre, Catriona Ferguson, said the exchange was a very exciting development.
“There are few opportunities for New Zealand writers to hold residencies in other countries. The main ones are in France, Germany and the United States. This will be the first opportunity for a supported fellowship in China.”
“International literary exchanges and linkages provide valuable opportunities for writers not only to have time and space to work, but to be exposed to new ideas, experiences and different approaches to writing. They also contribute to New Zealand’s international standing, at a time when the arts and creative industries are becoming a very important part of the economy. The huge local and international sales of Man Booker prize-winner Eleanor Catton’s novel, The Luminaries, provide one example of this and there are flow-on benefits in tourism and other business areas.”
George Andrews, Vice President (North Island) of NZ China Friendship Society, said the fellowship continued the Society’s long tradition of fostering cultural links with China.
“Rewi Alley would be tickled pink that the writing fellowship we established in his name has led to this exchange with Shanghai, where he first arrived in China in 1927.”
The exchange follows the inaugural Rewi Alley Fellowship in May 2013 when Huo Yan, a 25-year-old writer from Beijing took up a two-month residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre with funding through the NZ China Friendship Society. While she was in New Zealand in 2013, Huo Yan wrote two short works. One, a novella called John Li , has been published in a prominent Chinese literary journal, Mountain Flowers.
The successful applicants will have free accommodation in self-contained inner-city apartments in Shanghai, a small stipend towards living costs and paid air travel to Shanghai. They are invited to take part in discussions and literary events, but are able to work on a project of their own choice.
Let us hope that this reciprocal relationship will become an annual event and the Society’s members wish the successful applicants every success.
Teri France, February 2014