South Island Writers' Association

A friendly group of writers based in Christchurch, New Zealand

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Get writing poets!

2016 National Flash Fiction Day Competition

If you haven’t entered this already, it’s not too late! Closes 30 April. $1000 is up for grabs, and only open to New Zealanders too 🙂

Leaving the Red Zone: poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes

SIWA is excited to announce that James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston’s book “Leaving the Red Zone: poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes” will be launced on Monday.


Many of SIWA’s members have poems appearing in this book.

If you would like to go to the launch, the details are below:

When: 7 pm to 8.30 pm, Monday 29th February 2016
Where: The Laboratory, 17 West Belt, Lincoln (next door to the Library)

There will be readings, and dignitaries, and short speeches, and a chance to purchase copies of the book at a launch-party discount of $30 (usually $39.95).

Hope to see you all there!

Poetic Licence


For the third year, South Island Writers’ Association (SIWA) and Airing Cupboard Women Poets invite you to polish up your best poems and air them in public to celebrate the lead-up to National Poetry Day.

The Open Mic is open to all fabulous emerging or published poets and their friends and family. SIWA and Airing Cupboard give you the licence to read and listen to great poetry! Sign in at the door if you’re reading.

When: Friday 21 August 2015, 6:30 – 8pm  (Exactly one week before National Poetry Day)

Where: Sydenham Room, South Library, Christchurch (After hours entrance at far end of the library)

Free: Drinks and Nibbles.

See you there!

Ngaio Marsh 122 Birthday

Today is Dame Ngaio Marsh’s 122nd Birthday! As many of you will know, SIWA was started by Marsh and patronized for many years. Google has also created a beautiful doodle to celebrate:

Flash Fiction Workshop with Frankie McMillan

Last Saturday, SIWA hosted a fantastic Flash Fiction workshop with Frankie McMillan for the lead-up to the National Flash Fiction competition.

SIWA flashers. From left: Barbara Strang, Felicity Cutter, Cecilia Fitzgerald, Sue Kingham, Rachel Smith, Frankie McMillan, Gail Ingram, Melanie Koster and Monica Koster


Celine Gisbon has kindly given us a run-down of the workshop for those that could’t make it:

Saturday, 11th April and 10 very keen flash fiction writers (including our youngest flasher, Monica Koster) gathered at Room 210 in the James Hight Building at Canterbury University for a day of intensive, creative flashing. Once introductions were over, Frankie McMillan, our fabulous tutor, talked to us about the many styles of short-short fiction that are around today. Apart from our 250 – 300 word flashes, Frankie spoke of micro-fiction (word limit of 100) and of novels that are comprised of flashes; each flash is a separate story but it links / overlaps to the next so that by the end of the book a complete story has been told. (I noticed a lot of eye-blinks and jaw-drops around about this time. Expect a flurry of flash-novels any day soon). And then we got down to the serious stuff of writing. Frankie gave us time limits – which we adhered to as best we could – but it seemed as if we all had a lot to say. We flashed fast and furious; we circled words then crossed ’em out; we added words only to remove them moments later. Towards the end of our workshop, Frankie got us to read our flashes aloud for general comment and critiquing. I don’t want to boast – but dammit I will, on behalf of my fellow workshop mates: there were some fantastic little flashes in the making there. NFFD will have its work cut out, if this lot are anything to go by! SIWA logo sealAnd then it was 3 pm, and none of us wanted to go home. Any questions about the workshop? Yes. Can we do this again next year – same time, same place, and same tutor?

National Flash Fiction

2015 already and the National Flash Fiction competition is open for entries!

This year submissions are open from 1 February – 30 April, so there is still plenty of time to polish off your last nugget, or go digging for more.

The competition is open to all New Zealand citizens and residents, and there is no theme or prompt. Only previously unpublished works can be submitted, and they must be no more than 300 words.

This year the competition is to be judged by the very excellent Owen Marshall and Fiona Kidman.

Last year SIWA did very well with our very own Sue Kingham taking out both third place in the national competition and first in the Canterbury Regional competition. Many other members were also part of the short and long lists.

For more information about the competition, or to learn how to submit, visit

Into the Light

This Saturday, The Story Collective is presenting “Into the Light”, an illuminating evening with emerging and established Canterbury writers and artists.

Into-the-light A4PosterFINAL(white text)

In Orange Studio’s friendly and inviting space there will be a vibrant mix of poetry, song, story and performance. Artists will be creative with the theme – so be prepared for starshine and dark shadows, new life and transformation – with plenty of humour along the way!

The line up includes Kerrin Sharpe, James Norcliffe, Heather McQuillan, Andrew Bell, Shelley Chappell, Celia Coyne, Melanie Dixon, Nod Ghosh, Brindi Joy, Linda McFarlane, Sharon Moreham, Anne Mortimer, Greg O’Connell and Andy Thompson, and our very own Gail Ingram.

So come on down to Orange Studio at Unit 3, 1063 Ferry Road at 7:00pm.

Click here for the Into the Light Programme.

New logo

SIWA logo seal

SIWA has a new logo thanks to Rosalee Jenkin from Room Four.

Rosalee kindly designed this stamp logo for SIWA and we love it!

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Earthquake Stories in UC CEISMIC

SIWA is excited to announce that a collection of earthquake stories and poems written by Jane Seaford, Shirley Eng, and John Ewen is now available in the CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive.

This collection is part of a wider project to document the knowledge, memories and experiences surrounding the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes for future generations and researchers. They have been stored in the archive alongside photographs, newspapers, videos, audio, and other documents submitted by organisations and members of the Canterbury community about the Canterbury earthquakes.

UC CEISMIC had this to say about the collection:

“A wide range of earthquake experiences were examined by these works, including the loss of loved ones, the ordeal of being trapped in a collapsed building, the strengthening and ending of relationships, the ongoing trauma of living in an earthquake zone, and the frustrations and lessons that came with the quakes. Like all good stories, they focus on the human spirit, what drives us, what moves us, and how we cope under extreme conditions.”

“This is only the beginning of our SIWA collection. We hope to gather more stories and poetry from the group, and from other writers in Canterbury. If you have any writing or know anybody who does, please get in touch. We are interested in any works related to the Canterbury earthquakes.”

You can email CEISMIC at

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