Newly returned to Aotearoa New Zealand after four years teaching and writing in Edinburgh, Lynn Davidson is to be the 2021 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow. Davidson will be using her time at Randell Cottage to write a memoir of her move to Scotland in 2016 and how, when prevented by Covid-19 from returning to New Zealand, she began exploring the life of her great aunt Vida.
A poet and novelist. Davidson’s most recent publication is the poetry collection Islander. She won the Poetry New Zealand Award in 2020, and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Massey University.
Selection panel convener Stephen Stratford says, “We soon got it down to five applications to argue over, then four. And then there were three. A while later, there were two. This was a close-run thing, but Lynn Davidson’s project was, in the end, a unanimous choice. Everyone on the panel saw it is as a valuable contribution to New Zealand history and a project that, given the author’s track record with both poetry and prose, will deliver something special. The mix of poetry and prose in the sample provided was a strength too.”
Davidson says she is delighted to be the 2021 resident and is looking forward to living and working in Randell Cottage.
“After four years in Edinburgh, and towards the end of this strange and difficult year, I decided to return to New Zealand. I was just days out of managed isolation and back in my beloved Wellington when I had the call to say I would be the 2021 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow. It feels remarkable to be supported in this way, at this moment, as I write about my family’s migrations between Scotland and New Zealand, and about my own migrations between Scotland and New Zealand. My particular interest is in uncovering the story of my great aunt, Vida, which I began in my flat in the eerie quiet of an empty Edinburgh City, and will continue to explore in the supportive quiet of the Randell Cottage. “
The Randell Cottage Writers Trust was established in 2001. The restored Category II historic building, gifted to the Trust by the Randell-Price family, hosts two writers a year: one from New Zealand and the other from France.
It is currently home to Michalia Arathimos. The 2021 French resident, writer Caroline Laurent is scheduled to arrive in Wellington in July.
Applications are now open for the 2021 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writers Fellowship. The fellowship comprises a stipend, currently set at $27,450, and six months’ rent-free accommodation in one of Wellington’s oldest colonial buildings.
The Trust is particularly interested in hearing from mid-career and Māori and Pasifika writers.
In 2021, the fellowship will run from 1 April to 30 September. Trust chair Sarah Dennis says the change of dates is prompted by border closures and the disruption to air travel caused by Covid-19.
“Moving the dates of our residency will allow greater flexibility to accommodate the 2021 French Randell writer, novelist Caroline Laurent, who will, we hope, be able to come to Wellington later in the year.”
Built in Thorndon in 1867, the Cottage has been painstakingly restored and is close to the National Library, the Turnbull Library and National Archive. It’s provided a peaceful inner-city base for writers from a range of genres: novelists, poets, biographers…
The first New Zealand resident was Peter Wells, in 2002. He’s been followed by Tim Corballis, Michael Harlow, Renée, Beryl Fletcher, Whiti Hereaka, Jennifer Compton, Kirsty Gunn, Pat White, Peter Walker, Vivienne Plumb, Denis Welch, Tina Makereti, Witi Ihimaera, Owen Marshall, Stephanie Johnson, Stephen Daisley, James Norcliffe, Paddy Richardson and, in 2020, Michalia Arathimos.
The Randell Cottage Creative NZ Writer in Residence is selected by a Trust-appointed committee to work on an approved project. The deadline for applications is Friday, 6 November 2020. The successful applicant will be announced in December.