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Tuesday 12 July 2022 3:12pm

craigcliffThis year's judge is New Zealand writer and Otago staff member Craig Cliff.

The University's annual creative writing competition for students and staff opens today – and this year for the first time also welcomes entries from alumni.

Writer 2022 offers Otago's staff, students and alumni the opportunity to harness their creativity and write a short story or a poem inspired by this year's theme “Brave New World”.

One of the competition's organisers Nicola Cummins, a Teaching Fellow in the English and Linguistics Programme, says the theme will allow for wide-ranging interpretations while acknowledging the many circumstances operating that break us from our past and oblige us to reconsider the world and our place in it.

The competition was established in 2019 as part of the University's 150th celebrations and proved to be very popular.

This year's judge is New Zealand writer and Otago staff member Craig Cliff. Cliff is Net Carbon Zero Programme Manager at the Sustainability Office, and author of two novels Nailing Down the Saint and The Mannequin Makers and the story collection A Man Melting which won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. In addition to fiction, Cliff has published poetry, essays and reviews and been a newspaper columnist. He was also the University's Robert Burns Fellow in 2017.

Cliff says he is honoured to be this year's judge. “The University community is full of creative people and I'm intrigued to see how they respond to the theme. It can be easy to see all the problems that exist in the present, but a positive vision of the future can be incredibly powerful. I can't wait to be transported into a range of brave new worlds!”

Co-organiser University Publications Editor Lisa Dick says the competition always highlights the depth of writing talent within Otago's staff and student communities, but opening it up to alumni for the first time is particularly exciting.

“We really hope the competition resonates with alumni, the way it has in the past for staff and students. We're really excited to read the entries.”

The winning entries will be published across multiple platforms, including print and radio, as well as via social media.

The competition opens for entries today and closes at midnight on Monday 5 September.

Winners will be announced on Thursday 6 October.

The competition is supported by University Book Shop, Otago University Press, Dunedin City of Literature, Otago Access Radio, and the Otago Daily Times – with prizes for each of the category winners.

Further information can be found here and below.

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 5 September.

How do I submit a story or poem?

Email your entry to attached as a word doc.

Can I submit any story or poem?

Short stories and poems must relate in some way to the competition's writing prompt: “Brave New World”.

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?

New Zealand writer Craig Cliff 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, Email:

Good luck!

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