Young writers put names to workshop discussion

Folk singer and songwriter Nadia Reid and former Burns Fellow Victor Rodger at a Dunedin workshop...
Folk singer and songwriter Nadia Reid and former Burns Fellow Victor Rodger at a Dunedin workshop yesterday. Photo: John Gibb
What's in a name? That was the question playwright, scriptwriter and former Burns Fellow Victor Rodger posed at a playwriting workshop attended by 17 young writers in Dunedin yesterday.

Mr Rodger, who is of Samoan heritage, engaged in the name-related discussion with participants during the workshop.

This was on the second day of events marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago.

Associate Prof Jacob Edmond and Dr Karen McLean, both of the Otago department of English and linguistics, are co-organisers of the reunion activities.

The workshop was held in association with the New Zealand Young Writers Festival.

Mr Rodger said the discussion about the participants’ respective names was a good "ice-breaker", and also highlighted the richness of material which aspiring writers had around them.

He read a piece he had written about his late father, and said he had received valuable gifts from his father, despite their sometimes difficult relationship.

At an earlier event,  many of more than 30 former Burns Fellows attending the reunion, and this year’s fellow Rhian Gallagher read poetry, prose and some dramatic dialogue.

Emeritus Prof Jocelyn Harris said the fellowship had proved positive for the department, and had contributed crucially to Dunedin’s success in gaining Unesco-designated City of Literature status.

Former Burns fellow Peter Olds said he had enjoyed meeting fellow writers he had known from the 1970s at the reunion, including former fellow Cilla McQueen, whose latest book Poeta was launched this week.

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery will run four public events today. Tomorrow there will be an open home  at the Robert Lord Writers Cottage, at 3 Titan St, and a celebration of the Stations of the Cross, painted by artist and poet Joanna Margaret Paul, at the Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea, in Magnet St, Port Chalmers.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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