2019 NZSA Honours Given to Michael Morrissey & Riemke Ensing

At the Auckland Branch meeting on 6 September 2019, NZSA board representative Susan Battye, presented Micahel Morrissey and Riemke Ensing with their 2019 Honours List award. The NZSA Honours List is an award recognising long service to NZSA by members.

Michael Morrissey has been one of NZSA’s most consistent meeting attendees and supporters since joining in 1974. As a young man he was a Fulbright Scholar to the US and was instrumental in bringing modern American writing to the attention of New Zealanders. He was to return to America as a New Zealand PEN representative at the PEN international conference in New York where he made a number of important connections.

Michael has become a distinguished New Zealand poet, short story writer and literary critic. His first collection of poems was released in 1978 and he has gone on to publish several more volumes of poetry. His first collection of short stories won the 1982 PEN Award for Best First Book of Fiction. He has also edited anthologies, written novellas, written for the stage, radio and film, and held numerous literary fellowships.

Born in the Netherlands, Riemke Ensing arriving here in 1951 as a girl, speaking little English. She went on to become a senior tutor in the English Department at Auckland University, teaching both English and New Zealand Literature. Riemke came to national attention as editor of the New Zealand anthology of women poets called Private Gardens. This was a pioneering work that brought attention to many New Zealand women poets for the first time.

She has published numerous collections, often engaging with art, politics and other poets, and her selected poems were published in 2000 as Talking Pictures. In 2002 she received the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. Two of her poems about Frank Sargeson are on permanent display at his cottage in Takapua.

Riemke joined PEN in 1975 and her membership was announced in the PEN Gazette number 95. Riemke went on to represent PEN NZ at an international PEN conference and her report from that conference was instrumental in helping convince New Zealand members to create the New Zealand Society of Authors as we know it today.

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