Russia residency for Dunedin poet

Dunedin writer David Howard is headed to Ulyanovsk, Russia, for a writer's residency. PHOTO:...
Dunedin writer David Howard is headed to Ulyanovsk, Russia, for a writer's residency. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Being restructured out of the University of Otago's philosophy department has had a silver lining for a Dunedin poet.

David Howard was forced to look for other opportunities after losing his job as an administrator in the department of philosophy, and found one in a month-long Unesco Cities of Literature residency in Ulyanovsk, Russia.

It is the first such residency Ulyanovsk has offered.

The former Burns Fellow said he lost his job of nine years during the restructure last year, in which about 170 people took voluntary redundancy or were made redundant.

"I got restructured out of existence as far as their employment was concerned," Howard said.

That, he said, was "existentially threatening", and forced him to look for other opportunities.

He had already completed a City of Literature residency in Prague in 2016, and then another residency in Croatia.

The latest residency was a case of "being on the spot", researching, and hoping.

He found out his application was successful last Monday. His reaction was a feeling of relief.

To be able to represent Dunedin overseas gave him a project he could embrace, rather than "doing something because nothing better came along".

Ulyanovsk is the birthplace of Lenin, and has produced prominent artists and writers.

Howard planned to collaborate with a composer on a work, something he had done in the past.

There would be a performance of the work, though he was not sure whether that would be during his month-long residency.

Dunedin City of Literature director Nicky Page said host cities funded the residencies, and selected the winning applicants.

Howard's trip was "particularly exciting to me as it increases writer mobility and opens doors for writers around the world during the time of the residency and beyond".

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