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From Crap to Artichoke Tears

We’re lucky enough to have Eileen Merriman judging the Takahē Short Story Competition 2017. Novels aside, her short fiction has been widely published and commended, and appears with prodigious frequency in the Sunday Star-Times Competition, among others. Of course we want to know exactly how she does it.

“The first draft is crap,” she said in a recent interview. It’s something she learned early on in her writing career. See? I told you we were lucky to have her. She knows exactly how much hard work will be going into all the entries to this year’s competition.

If you’re after inspiration for your Takahē entry, read Eileen’s second-placed Bath Flash Fiction Award story, This Is How They Drown. It’s unmissable for its summer-fresh prose and mastery of tension. And don’t miss Artichoke Tears right here in Takahē, for its innovative structure and enduring bittersweetness.

Or, if you’re brewing fresh coffee and stretching your back before launching into another draft before the November 30th deadline, take heart. As Eileen says, “Writing is like anything – you need to put in the hours.”

Use Labour weekend fruitfully- write a short story for us

Thanks to those of you who’ve already submitted a story or two to our 2017 Short Story Competition. And to those of you who haven’t yet entered, a wonderful way to spend the coming weekend would be writing a winning story, or, if you have one that you prepared earlier, honing and editing it to make it your best ever. In other words get writing! I’m looking forward to an avalanche of entries in the coming weeks. You have until November 30th but why wait until the deadline? Look at our competition page for more information and you can find a story written by our judge, Eileen Merriman, in our current on-line issue.

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Reading the short stories for the next issue of takahe….

Thanks to everyone who has recently sent stories to us. It was great to have such a good response to our call for submissions. Rachel and I have enjoyed reading them. But now we are in the process of deciding which ones to take for December, so anything that arrives after today (Thursday 14th Sep) will be considered for April 2018.

But not to worry if you’re about to complete a story which you were hoping to submit. Our short fiction competition is open! So do consider sending in an entry or, better still, entries for that. Someone has to win the competition, why not you?

2017 short story competition now open!

Calling all writers, it’s time to start thinking about those winning words you know you can put together. Our 2017 short story competition has just opened and you have until November 30th to create and polish you entries, which for the first time we are accepting by email. If you don’t enter you won’t win. Simple really. So get writing and do look at our competition page for more information and to download the entry form. Good luck.

ESSAY COMPETITION 2017 – WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT AND JUDGE’S REPORT

takahē magazine is delighted to announce the winner of our inaugural essay competition 2017.
The team would like to thank all entrants for participating. We acknowledge the high standard of entrants and wish them well in their future endeavours.

THE WINNER:
It’s Not a Life by Robyn Maree Pickens

The winning essay will be published online in takahē 90

 

 

 

 

Highly commended: Canoeing to Jerusalem by James Ackhurst
Special mentions: License to Laugh by Emer Lyons, and Tūrangawaewae by Nadine Millar

Judge’s Report – Erin Harrington, Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Canterbury and emeritus  takahē Essays Editor:

This is the first time takahē has run an essay competition off this type, and it was interesting to note a few prevailing trends in the pieces submitted. Many entries were personal essays or works of memoir. Certain themes dominated, especially issues surrounding belonging, nationhood, whakapapa, history, memory, and identity. Some stayed quite close to home, while others looked further afield, offering intriguing perspectives on topics as varied as everyday items, crime and punishment, geology, and infrastructure. It was heartening, too, to see a genuine variety of perspectives, with Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, and immigrant points of view all present. This made for some very entertaining and enlightening reading.

The essays that most caught my eye were those that demonstrated a flair for language and prose, put forward a clear argument or point of view, and exhibited a degree of sophistication in the way that they explored their chosen topic. While many of the best retained a first-person perspective, they used this as a point of departure; they generally looked out, rather than in. In doing so, these essays were successful in exploring sometimes weighty and complex topics and ideas with a combination of thoughtfulness, wit and insight.

The winning essay, “It’s Not a Life”, starts with an anecdotal account of the author’s experiences in the sort of draughty, damp, mouldy houses that characterise New Zealand’s shameful housing stock, and then uses this as context for a perceptive account of power, poverty and art. This is a well-considered and detailed essay that demonstrates a flair for language and a dry sense of humour. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

While there is only space for one winning essay, I would also like to particularly congratulate the authors of three other essays: “Canoeing to Jerusalem”, a piece about James K. Baxter, poetry, and national literatures; “Licence to Laugh”, which interrogates sexism and the representation of women (and men cross-dressing as women) in theatre, comedy and television; and “Tūrangawaewae”, which explores the importance of stories and storytelling in our personal and national histories.

I appreciate the efforts of all those who entered work. Ngā mihi nui.