Ema Saiko Poetry Fellowship

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The purpose of this Ema Saiko Poetry Residency is to encourage the writing of poetry and, in turn, to honour the Japanese poet and painter Ema Saiko (1787-1861). 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.   

For several years, this Residency was sponsored by our Founder Dr Kay Flavell, and in other years, by individual members of the Wairarapa arts community.

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.’

2019/2020: Rebecca Hawkes, a poet and painter based in Wellington. Rebecca's writings have been published widely in New Zealand, such as recently in the AUP New Poets series. During her residency, she performed at Poems on the Vine as part of 2020 Yarns in Barns, and at Wairarapa Word.

2018: Leanne Dunic, multi-disciplinary artist, musician, and writer from Vancouver, Canada. During her Residency, 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 Residency, she worked on poetry that connects to the sound of the environment around the Studio. She also collaborated with Sian ni Mhuiri.

The 2016 Residency 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. 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.