The University of Waikato is set to welcome Michalia Arathimos as the Writer in Residence for 2021. She will start in her new role after Easter and her residency project will be her third novel, Sojourn, which is set in the Waikato.
This position is jointly funded by the University of Waikato and Creative New Zealand and the sole purpose is to give the writer the freedom to write.
‘For a mid-career writer like myself, with a young whānau, I cannot emphasise enough what a supported opportunity like this means. For some writers, it can mean the difference between the next work taking five years, or one, to write,’ says Michalia.
Sojourn is a story of uneasy leavings and returnings, and of uncomfortable histories. The main character, Andrianni, has suddenly returned to Hamilton from Melbourne with her Te Atiawa partner and young child.
During Andrianni’s sojourn in the Waikato she hopes to resolve a rumour in her family: that one of her ancestors took part in the invasion of Parihaka, the site of the peaceful resistance movement led by Te Whiti-o-Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi (Taranaki and Te Atiawa) – her husband’s forebears. She must integrate that knowledge within her current relationships.
Michalia hopes that her stay in the Waikato will help her resolve Adrianni’s questions as well as her own.
During 2020 Michalia was the Writer in Residence at the Randell Writer’s Cottage in Wellington where she worked on her second novel, Cartographia.
For the first three months of 2021 she is the Writer in Residence at the Frank Sargeson Centre, Auckland, supported by the Grimshaw Sargeson Trust where she will focus on her second collection of short stories.
Her publication history is diverse, ranging from books and novels to short stories, reviews, non-fiction and poetry. Her most recent publication, Apologia, is a short story collection, and winner of last year’s Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award in Australia.
Her debut novel Aukati was published by Mākaro Press and launched in 2017.
She has also been the Fiction Reviewer for Melbourne literary journal Overland for the last five years and has published many other reviews and non-fiction works online, including in The Lifted Brow, Landfall Online Review, E Tangata and the Verb Festival Essays. She has also published many short stories in journals both in Aotearoa and overseas.
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Allison Kirkman, says ‘the field for the Writer in Residence was particularly strong this year, and we are delighted that Michalia has accepted the position. Her presence will ensure that the cultural life in Te Kura Toi The School of Arts, and the wider University, is rich and vibrant.’