Word Fest 2020 features UC scholars and CUP authors

11 September 2020

The WORD Christchurch Spring Festival is about to burst forth with stories, ideas, poetry and song. The recently announced festival line-up features many University of Canterbury scholars and writers, including Canterbury University Press authors, and is selling out fast.

  • Word2020

    The WORD Christchurch Spring Festival features many University of Canterbury scholars and writers.

The WORD Christchurch Spring Festival is about to burst forth with stories, ideas, poetry and song. The recently announced festival line-up features many University of Canterbury (UC) scholars and writers, including Canterbury University Press (CUP) authors, and is selling out fast.

WORD opens the literary fest with a glittering gala event, Brave Worlds, in which six of the festival's distinguished writers respond to the theme of courage in the midst of a pandemic, including UC Senior Adjunct Research Fellow Behrouz Boochani. On stage with Boochani will be Witi Ihimaera, Laura Jean McKay, Becky Manawatu, Elizabeth Knox and Mohamed Hassan, hosted by John Campbell.

Based at Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Research Centre, Boochani features in a new Australian Story documentary, which includes interviews with WORD festival director Rachael King and UC Ngāi Tahu Research Centre director Associate Professor Te Maire Tau, who is also part of the festival.

UC academics

Professor of Marketing and Director of the University of Canterbury Knowledge Commons, Ekant Veer will be hosting a talk with Matt Calman and Jehan Casinader about their experience with depression and their individual adventurous paths to mental health.

UC Arts Professor of English and Digital Humanities Paul Millar will be talking with Vincent O'Sullivan, one of our most acclaimed and versatile writers about his career so far.

UC’s Head of Aotahi School of Māori and Indigenous Studies Sacha McMeeking, journalist and UC PhD graduate Dr Sally Blundell, and MP Golriz Ghahraman, will discuss the state of public knowledge, the implications for democracy, and what we can do better.

UC lecturer in English and Cultural Studies and horror genre expert Dr Erin Harrington will get spooky with writer Elizabeth Knox and film-maker Jonathan King to dissect what they love about extraordinary US horror writer Shirley Jackson with Noelle McCarthy in the Halloween Book Club.

Professor Philip Armstrong teaches literature, creative writing and human-animal studies at UC. He is the author of books on Shakespeare and animals. He and novelist Laura Jean McKay (The Animals in That Country) both use animal protagonists in their work, and both work in the field of animal studies. In Talking Animals, they will discuss ‘what would the animals say if they could talk to us?’

UC graduate and economist Brian Easton discusses his new book, Not in Narrow Seas, a major contribution to the economic history of New Zealand, with UC Emeritus Professor of History Geoff Rice, who has published 10 books with CUP.

Speaking with Annabel Langbein about her memoir Bella, Jo Malcolm is a former TV journalist who now teaches visual story-telling at UC.

CUP authors

Other festival highlights include CUP authors Jenny Sew Hoy Agnew and Trevor Agnew discussing their newly published book, Merchant Miner Mandarin, about Choie Sew Hoy, whose illustrious career changed the shape of commerce and industry in Otago and Southland.

Author John Newton was Llew Summers’ close friend during the last two years of the sculptor’s life and wrote his 2020 CUP book, Llew Summers: Body and Soul, about the artist. A poet, critic and cultural historian, Newton is featuring in conversation about the late artist, and an exhibition of Llew Summers’ works will continue at the Central Art Gallery in the Arts Centre until 27 September.

Associate Professor Tau joins fellow UC academics in discussing the new CUP book A Long Time Coming: The story of Ngāi Tahu’s treaty settlement negotiations, which shines a light, for both Māori and Pākehā, on a crucial part of this country’s history. Join the author UC Ngāi Tahu Research Centre Lecturer Dr Martin Fisher, along with UC Adjunct Professor Tā Tipene O’Regan, and former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson, as they discuss a claim that spanned two centuries. The first Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori appointed at UC, Sir Tipene was awarded an honorary doctorate from UC in 1992.

CUP poetry and flash fiction writers Frankie McMillan and Michelle Elvy also feature in the festival.

UC writers in residence

In common with WORD director Rachel King (2008), many of the festival’s stars have been part of the UC community as the annual Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence, including current resident Nathan Joe (2020). Previous UC writers-in-residence include John Newton (2017), Karen Healey (2017), Frankie McMillan (2014), David Eggleton (2012), Tusiata Avia (2010), Carl Nixon (2006), Brian Turner (1997), Fiona Farrell (1992), Bernadette Hall (1991), and Owen Marshall (1981).

UC graduates

There will also be a plethora of UC graduates appearing in the literary festival, including current postgraduate student Juanita Hepi, who is completing her final year of a Master’s degree in Māori and Indigenous Leadership at UC.

The list of UC graduates includes Bill Nagelkerke, Brian Easton, Carl Nixon, Carl Shuker, Donna Miles-Mojab, Eamonn Marra, James Norcliffe, Jess Fiebig, Joanna Orwin, Karen Healey, Laura Borrowdale, Margaux Warne, Miriama Kamo, Raf Manji, Dr Sally Blundell, Trevor Agnew, and Tusiata Avia, among others.

And we’re hoping to welcome rising star E Wen Wong as a first-year UC student in 2021. In her final year at Burnside High School where she is Head Girl, E Wen has been writing poetry since she was 10, and won the 2020 National Schools Poetry Award.

  • Word 2020 runs from 28 October-1 November and many of the festival’s 65 events are free. More information is available at wordchristchurch.co.nz

UC Communications team, media@canterbury.ac.nz, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168


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