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BooksJanuary 22, 2019

Announcing a flash new writer’s residency exclusively for millennials


Young and emerging writers, rejoice! The dear old Spinoff Review of Books unveils a new writer-in-residence award – open only to those tender of age and prodigious of talent.

Young and emerging writers in New Zealand get a pat on the head now and then, a little bit of praise, limited exposure, sod-all money, and not a lot else – until now. The Spinoff is pleased to announce an annual writer’s residency which is eligible only to writers of tender years and wondrous promise.

The Spinoff Review of Books Writer-in-Residence Award is held in association with the Rise Pop-up Apartments in Wellington. It will be held annually, and the winner shall receive:

  • Accommodation at a cool apartment in downtown Wellington, for about a month, from mid-January to mid-February. The room (worth $275 a week) is gratis, and includes furniture, bedding, ensuite bathroom, kitchenette and weekly cleaning service
  • $400 per week stipend
  • A number of free meals courtesy of Egmont St Eatery and Rogue Burger
  • A nice bunch of flowers and an awesome welcome pack of goodies upon arrival.

The 2020 award will be open to all young and emerging writers. The winner of the inaugural 2019 award has already been chosen, and indeed arrived at the apartment this weekend – the dazzlingly gifted Hamilton writer Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor.

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor

“This residency has come as a sort of crazy shiny New Year gift,” says AJ. “I’ve been blown away by the generosity of the Rise and Spinoff teams in organising this wonderful opportunity.”

AJ, 22, who tutors creative writing alongside Catherine Chidgey and Tracey Slaughter at the University of Waikato, has been published at Starling, Landfall, Mimicry, and Mayhem, and has already won three impressive prizes – Verge’s 2017 Emerging Writer of the Year Award, the 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition, and best poem of 2018 as judged by The Spinoff Review of Books.

The inaugural 2019 Spinoff residency at the Rise Pop-up Apartments is her fourth and most glam award. As well as the run of the joint, the meals, and someone to clean up after her, she’ll be put up free of charge at the swanky Park Hotel on Lambton Quay for three nights at the end of her residency.

That’s when the pop-up apartment pops down, so to speak, which is to say that it’s packed up and put back to use as student accommodation.

Between March and November, Cumberland House functions as accommodation for Victoria University students. In summer, two enterprising young women, Danielle Joyce and Danielle Warren, convert the rooms into pop-up apartments, with the idea that young workers who come into the city for the summer can have an affordable option instead of having to schlep in daily from far off suburbs.

The lodgings

“It’s a bit ridiculous that there are 230 people worth of apartments staying empty over summer, so we thought we would find a way to make it useful,” said one of the Danielles, or possibly both at the same time.

The idea for the writer’s residency is the brainchild of The Wellington Company founder Ian Cassels, who has revolutionised inner-city apartment living in the capital. He’s made an art out of buying up and restoring numerous downtown buildings into cool apartments where cool people live and do cool things at a cluster of cool places – bars, galleries, shops. The Rise Pop-Up Apartments on Willis St are part of their cool empire.

Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor is now part of that whole cool scene. She’ll work on a collection of poetry during her residency, and get out and about to soak up Wellington’s literary scene.

“I’m gonna head along to as many literary events as I can, including the Pegasus Poetry Reading, The Wellington Feminist Poetry Club, Poetry in Motion evening, and the Mansfield Garden Party,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to seeing some of my favourite New Zealand writers in action.”

Entry forms and all the rest of it for the 2020 award will be heavily advertised at The Spinoff Review of Books in due course. It’s the second writers residency in association with The Spinoff, following our annual writer-in-residence award which offers a week’s accommodation at Auckland’s Surrey Hotel.

Auckland, Wellington…We’re open to a residency in the South Island,too. If anyone enterprising is of a mind to get something going, hit us up.

Keep going!