Speakers and organisers

Keynote speakers

Ian Rae is an Associate Professor of Modern Languages at King’s University College at Western University, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of the monograph From Cohen to Carson: The Poet’s Novel in Canada (2008) and editor of George Bowering: Bridges to Elsewhere (2010), a special issue of the journal Open Letter. In 2012, he earned a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for his Mapping Stratford Culture project, which aims to develop an interdisciplinary cultural history of this Canadian arts hub. In 2016, he received a Moore Institute Fellowship at the University of Ireland, Galway, for his work on the Stratford Festival and the Irish Literary Revival.

Jenny Bornholdt, described by Victoria University Press publisher Fergus Barrowman as “the major New Zealand poet of her generation,” is the author of 10 collections of poetry and co-editor of several anthologies. Her many honours include the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Fellowship to Menton, 2002 and the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate, 2005–6, and in 2013 she was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Her 2008 collection The Rocky Shore, winner of the Montana New Zealand National Book Award for Poetry, is made up of six long essayistic poems, described on the book cover blurb as being “as much autobiographical essay as long poem.” As she writes in “Confessional,” “when people talk about poetry / they often mention compression – yes, it can / be that, but it can also be a great sprawling / thing.”

Other featured speakers

A taster of some of the speakers we are most excited about…

Brian Blanchfield is the author of three books of poetry and prose, most recently Proxies: Essays Near Knowing  (Nightboat Books, 2016; Picador UK, 2017), a collection part cultural close reading and part autobiography, for which he received a 2016 Whiting Award in Nonfiction. His second book, A Several World, was awarded the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and was a longlist finalist for The National Book Award. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in Harper’sThe NationChicago Review, BOMBThe Oxford American, The Paris ReviewLana TurnerBrickConjunctions, and other magazines. Originally from the central Piedmont of the American South, Blanchfield has taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Montana, Cal Arts, Pratt Institute, and the University of Arizona, among other schools and art centres. Founder and former host of the Tucson-based poetry radio programme Speedway and Swan, he lives now, with his partner John, in Moscow, Idaho, where he is Assistant Professor of Literary Nonfiction at the University of Idaho.

Christian Bök is the author of Eunoia (2001), a bestselling work of experimental literature, which has gone on to win the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. Bök is currently working on The Xenotext — a project that requires him to encipher a poem into the genome of a bacterium capable of surviving in any inhospitable environment. Bök is a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, and he teaches at Charles Darwin University.

Amy Brown is a poet, novelist and teacher who grew up in Hawke’s Bay and now lives in Melbourne. She has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne on contemporary epic poetry. The creative half of her thesis, The Odour of Sanctity, was published by Victoria University Press in 2013. She is currently an English and Philosophy teacher at the Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School.

Conference organisers

Anna Jackson is Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington and a highly regarded poet. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently I, Clodia, and Other Portraits. With Helen Rickerby and Angelina Sbroma she organised the Truth or Beauty: Poetry and Biography conference in 2014, and edited the resulting book, Truth and Beauty: Verse Biography in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She is the founder of the Ruapehu Writers Festival. Read more about Anna Jackson on the New Zealand Book Council website.

Helen Rickerby has published four books of poetry, most recently Cinema (2014). She is the managing editor of Seraph Press, a boutique poetry publisher, and was co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine from 2005 to 2015. Read more about Helen Rickerby on the New Zealand Book Council website.

Angelina Sbroma is a doctoral student in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington. Her thesis focuses on children’s fantasy literature.

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