Here's what you need to know to enter:

Who can enter?

The competition is open to all staff, students and alumni of the University of Otago.

What's the deadline?

Entries are due on or before midnight on Monday 11 September.

How do I submit a story or poem?

Email your entry as an attached word document to:


Can I submit any story or poem?

Short stories and poems must relate in some way to the competition's writing prompt: “The Getting of Wisdom”.

What is the word limit?

Poems can be of any length (within reason), stories must be no more than 2,500 words (though we stress this is an absolute maximum not an aim, any length up to 2,500 will be accepted).

How many entries can I submit?

Just one entry per person across poetry or short fiction, student, staff or alumni categories. You must choose which of the six categories suits you best.

Stories and poems must be original and previously unpublished (entries will be run through the University's plagiarism checking system Turnitin).

Can my entry be in te reo Māori?

Yes. However, to assist the judge it would be helpful if you included a translation into English.

Who is the judge?

Current Burns Fellow Kathryn van Beek, backed up by a small support team which will include Otago Publications Editor Lisa Dick and English and Linguistics Programme Teaching Fellow Nicola Cummins.

Are you happy for us to print and use your poem or story?

By entering, you grant permission for us to post your writing to the University website and Facebook page and other social media, and for your writing to be printed by external media and on posters around campus if selected as a winner in this year's competition.

Still have questions?

Please contact the competition team:


Good luck!

Listen to last year's winners reading their works

This year's winners read and discuss their works with co-organisers Lisa Dick and Nicola Cummins, with judge's comments from Craig Cliff.

Complete show

Student poetry

Lennox Tait

Student fiction

Jessica Bent

Staff poetry

Abby Smith

Staff fiction

Gini Jory

Alumni poetry

Giles Graham

Alumni fiction

Rebecca Styles

Response from the judge

Our judge, Craig Cliff says:

“Reading the entries this year, I have been transported to distant planets, asked to ponder the plight of refugees, native birds and captive octopuses, and been granted windows into depression and anxiety, romance and joy.

“It was a privilege to get a taste of what concerns and delights staff, students and alumni in 2022. Many staff entries related to experience of leaving ones homeland for another country, possibly exacerbated by the pandemic, while many students were understandably concerned by environmental degradation.

“Some of the winning entries stood out because they were so polished. Others might still have a few rough edges, but their raw energy and inventiveness was irresistible. But all entrants should feel proud for taking the time to think creatively and make something in the midst of their busy lives.”

The winning entries

Here are their winning pieces for your enjoyment:

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