The Robert Burns Fellowship

The Robert Burns Fellowship is New Zealand's premier literary residency. It was established in 1958 by a group of anonymous Dunedin citizens to commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Burns, and to perpetuate the community's appreciation of the part played by the related Dunedin family of Dr Thomas Burns in the early settlement of Otago. The Fellowship aims to encourage and promote imaginative New Zealand literature and to associate writers with the University.

The annual, 12-month Fellowship provides an office in the English Department and not less than the minimum salary of a full-time university lecturer. It is open to writers of poetry, drama, fiction, biography, autobiography, essays or literary criticism who are normally resident in New Zealand, and who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, have established by their published work, or otherwise, that their writing would benefit from their holding the Fellowship.

Previous Fellowship recipients since 2008

See the list of all previous Fellowship recipients


Photo of Louise Wallace

Louise Wallace

Robert Burns Fellow 2015

Wellington-based poet Louise Wallace holds an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University, is the author of two books of poetry published by Victoria University Press, and her work has featured in both the 2011 anthology The Best of Best New Zealand Poems and 2014’s Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page.

She has previously taught creative writing at Massey University in Wellington, and also at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

"I'm excited to see what I can do with such a generous block of writing time. But I'm also looking forward to exploring Dunedin and the south, and I'm very honoured and grateful to be following in the footsteps of previous Robert Burns fellows - it is an amazing list.”

Louise plans to research conversation in poetry, and create her third collection of poetry based on this.

“I'm also interested in all the off-shoots and side projects that the year as a Robert Burns fellow will bring."


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April, 2015

It’s hard to believe I am already a quarter of the way through the residency. When you are doing something worthwhile you have your head down, and when you look up it’s surprising to see how much time has already flown by.

When working unsupported, time and freedom are the most difficult things to acquire. On the residency I have them at my disposal, and it is allowing me to really push myself – to work on the things that excite and scare me the most. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.

I am reading, researching and working on a new collection of poems. I have been gifted an office for the year where I can focus on the work itself, full access to all library facilities, and a great team of colleagues around me in the English department, whose conversations and thoughts add to my experience.

Dunedin has been very welcoming and I am really enjoying seeing all that is going on here in the South. There is a unique history here that is opening itself up to me the more I explore.

I know that I will leave the residency with something wonderful. But for now I am looking only at the day to day, as that is where the work gets done!

Otago Fellows University of Otago