2020 creative writing competition opens today Otago University

Monday 20 July 2020

Have a go … the University’s annual creative writing competition for Otago students and staff opens today – with the theme “only connect…”.

The University’s second annual creative writing competition for students and staff opens for entries today.

Writer 2020 offers all staff and students at all of Otago’s campuses the opportunity to harness their creativity and write a short story or a poem inspired by this year’s theme “only connect …”.

“As the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve been more than usually conscious of the effort needed to maintain our connections with our families, with our colleagues, with our friends, and with the world.”

One of the competition’s organisers Nicola Cummins, a Teaching Fellow in the English and Linguistics Programme, says the theme this year was inspired by the epigraph from E. M. Forster’s novel, Howards End.

“As the country emerges from COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve been more than usually conscious of the effort needed to maintain our connections with our families, with our colleagues, with our friends, and with the world. The possibilities suggested by Forster’s ambiguous epigraph struck us as an aptly applicable theme for writers in 2020.”

The competition was established last year as part of the University’s 150th celebrations, and was so popular and successful that it will be an annual fixture in Semester 2.

This year’s judge is New Zealand writer Sue Wootton, the 2020 Katherine Mansfield Fellow.

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“We’re thrilled to have Sue Wootton as our judge for the 2020 competition. She is a poet, a short-story writer, and a novelist. She also co-edits Corpus, a medical humanities discussion forum with Professor Barbara Brookes from the History and Art History Programme.”

Co-organiser Lisa Dick, the Editor of the Otago Bulletin Board, says the quality of last year’s entries was high, and the winners of each category were exceptional.

“Last year’s competition reinforced to us how many talented writers we have within our University community. We can’t wait to see what people come up with this year.”

“Last year’s competition reinforced to us how many talented writers we have within our University community. Our entrants came from all of our campuses and academic divisions, with an even split between staff and student writers. We can’t wait to see what people come up with this year.”

Last year’s winning entries were published in the Otago Daily Times, and on the University’s 150th webpage and posters, and winners read their work on Otago Access Radio, with the same publicity on offer again in 2020.

The competition opens for entries today, and closes at midnight on Friday 4 September.

Winners will be announced at a prize giving hosted by the competition’s major sponsor University Bookshop on Thursday 1 October.

Alongside the University Bookshop, the competition is once again supported by Otago University Press, Dunedin City of Literature, Otago Access Radio, the Otago Daily Times and the English and Linguistics Programme – and offers generous prizes for each of the category winners.

Further information can be found here and below.

Here’s what you need to know to enter:

Who can enter?
The competition is open to all staff and students of the University of Otago.

What’s the deadline?
Entries are due on or before midnight on Friday 4 September.

How do I submit a story or poem?
Email your entry to bulletin.comp@otago.ac.nz attached as a word doc.

Can I submit any story or poem?
Short stories and poems must relate in some way to the competition’s writing prompt: “only connect… ”.

What is the word limit?
Poems can be of any length (within reason), stories must be no more than 2,500 words (though we stress this is an absolute maximum not an aim, any length up to 2,500 will be accepted).

How many entries can I submit?
Just one entry per person across poetry or prose, student or staff categories. You must choose which of the four categories suits you best.
Stories and poems must be original and previously unpublished (entries will be run through the University’s plagiarism checking system Turnitin).

Can my entry be in te reo Māori?
Yes. However to assist the judge it would be helpful if you included a translation into English.

Who is the judge?
New Zealand writer Sue Wootton backed up by a small support team which will include Otago Bulletin Board Editor Lisa Dick and English and Linguistics Programme Teaching Fellow Nicola Cummins.

Are you happy for us to print and use your poem or story?
By entering, you grant permission for us to post your writing to the University website and Facebook page and other social media, and for your writing to be printed in the Otago Daily Times and on posters around campus if selected as a winner in this year’s competition.

Still have questions?
Please contact the competition team, Email: bulletin.comp@otago.ac.nz

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