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Writer 2023 winners

Student poetry

Kim Cope Tait

Runner up: Kathy Nam

Student fiction

Sydney Rodriguez

Runner up: Judah Song

Staff poetry

Mandy Phipps-Green

Runner up: Melissa Audeau

Staff fiction

Molly Crighton

Runner up: David Jenkins

Alumni poetry

Val O'Reilly

Runner up: Charissa Murphy

Alumni fiction

Caellin Rodgers

Runners up: Anne Lim and Feby Idrus

Response from the judge

Our judge, Kathryn van Beek says:

“Sex, murder, and diarrhoea are just some of the topics explored in these 97 entries, which traverse ideas including the place of artificial intelligence in society, the wonders of the natural world, and of course, Barbie (or more specifically, Ken). After Ken, the tūī is the character that makes the most appearances in these lively and intelligent stories and poems, which demonstrate the incredible wealth of creative talent in the University of Otago whānau.

“Different writers have different takes on the 2023 competition theme: 'the getting of wisdom.' For some, wisdom can be gained by paying attention to the world around us. For others, wisdom can be found within ourselves, or be passed down through generations. Many characters stumble in their quests to gain wisdom, making for playful and amusing scenarios.

“The entrants can be proud of their work – each piece is thoughtful, funny, lyrical, well-structured, or emotionally moving, and many pieces have all of these qualities. Though Artificial Intelligence is a common theme, the compassionate hearts and curious minds of these writers reassure me that computers are no match for us yet. Aldous Huxley wrote: 'Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly - they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.' The writers in the University of Otago whānau can be commended for their X-ray words that reveal much about the human condition.”

Writer 2023 podcast

Listen to this year’s winners read and discuss their works with co-organisers Lisa Dick and Nicola Cummins, including judge’s comments from current University of Otago Burns Fellow Kathryn van Beek.

Winning entries

Here are their winning pieces for your enjoyment:

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