Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship


This artist is a writer who focuses mostly on poetry, as did Ema Saiko (1787-1861).

The purpose of this Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship is to encourage the writing of poetry and, in turn, to honour the Japanese poet and painter Ema Saiko. Writing at a time when it was unusual for women to be included in the rarefied circles of male poets writing in Chinese, she dedicated herself to, and developed, a poetic form centred on the discovery and unfolding of a rich intellectual and artistic life connected to the physical environment. Saiko was acutely attuned to the daily and seasonal transformations of the natural world.   

NZPS welcomes applications from poets who seek a sustained focus on their writing; it is open to poets of any gender and any culture – living in NZ or abroad. Applicants can be working in any way and do not have to relate to Ema Saiko in terms of style or content. 

While in residence, Fellows are encouraged to give readings and may help facilitate a workshop that shares a personal process of writing poetry with others. Selection will be based on the nature and strength of an applicant’s proposed project and the degree to which both the Fellow and the local community will benefit from it (although the focus remains on supporting the poet in the serious creation of their work). Applicants can be at any stage in their creative ‘careers.’

This Fellowship has been sponsored by Dr Kay Flavell and individual members of the Wairarapa arts community.

Recent Fellows:

2019/2020 - Rebecca Hawkes, a poet and painter based in Wellington, holds a Master's Degree with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters in Nonfiction Creative Writing, and was awarded the national NZQA Award for Top Scholar in Painting. Her writings have been published widely in New Zealand, such as recently in the AUP New Poets series. She performed at Poems on the Vine as part of 2020 Yarns in Barns, and at Wairarapa Word. For more about the poet-painter, visit:

2018 - Leanne Dunic, multi-disciplinary artist, musician, and writer from Vancouver, Canada.  During her Fellowship, she led a writing workshop, read from her work at Masterton District Library, and completed a strong third version of her poetry manuscript – provisionally titled 'Wet' – a work of lyric-prose about an Asian-American woman’s return to an unspecified home country. The manuscript challenges typical depictions of Asian-female sexuality, as well as themes of globalisation, environment trauma, and racism.

2017 - Makyla Curtis, poet, Auckland. During her Fellowship, she worked on poetry that connects to the sound of the environment around the Studio. She also collaborated with Sian ni Mhuiri. For more: listen to this Radio New Zealand Interview and read this Wairarapa News article.

The 2016 Fellowship was shared between Ya-wen Ho of Auckland/Wellington (June) and Alan Jefferies of Brisbane (September). Ya-Wen Ho wrote a new series of poems and was a guest poet at Poems on the Vine at Gladstone Vineyard, as part of the 2016 Yarns In Barns Wairarapa Festival of Reading. Alan Jefferies developed his manuscript on love and loss, performed at Wairarapa Word, and led a poetry writing workshop at the residency centre.

2015 - Yukari Nikawa, Poet, Tokyo. Nikawa collaborated with poet Melanie Carter during the residency, and their poetry featured at the 15th anniversary exhibition at Aratoi, the regional museum. She also participated at a meeting of Windrift, a haiku society in Wellington, and at a Wairarapa Word recital in Mount Bruce. 

2014 - Janis Freegard, Poet and Novelist, Wellington, NZ. The inaugural Fellow, Freegard worked on a long poem (about 30 pages), which  featured at Wairarapa Word. The work has since been published as Reading the Signs  (Cuba Press, 2020) a series of linked poems. For more about the author, visit: