Today is day four of my stay at the New Zealand Pacific Studio. Although I’m far away from everyone I feel more connected into the literary scene than usual, with more time to spend reading blog posts, absorbing books and trying to get to grips with Twitter. As this is my first residency I’ve also learned a few new things, and here they are…
Always pack your hair dryer. Even if your residency is in the middle of nowhere, you should still bring your hairdryer and your dry shampoo. Wearing ugly warm clothes is one thing; sporting ugly limp hair is quite another. I didn’t expect to be impressing anyone - but I also didn’t expect to be grossing myself out. Ewww.
You will go on ginko walks. You may think you’re going on a simple country walk. But with a notebook in your pocket and writing on your mind, you are actually going on a ginko walk - a walk that inspires poetry, or more specifically, haiku. Yes, I returned from this morning’s walk and wrote my first ever serious poem. (I wrote my first ever silly poem yesterday - about Invercargill’s pool pooper.) I happen to be staying in the Japanese-themed Saiko Room (named after Ema Saiko), which I’m sure has contributed to this sudden urge to write poems.
You may write a love letter. I have been in love with Ockham Residential for a while now. I lust after The Isaac and I drool over The Turing. When I heard that Ockham Residential has partnered with the New Zealand Book Awards I couldn’t help but send them a love note. They even replied!
You may have some weird ideas that you’ll never follow through with. My favourite bad idea so far is that I should become a food reviewer. I’m vegetarian, so I would write incredibly passive aggressive reviews along the lines of, “the one vegetarian option was pasta - for a change,” or, “this establishment doesn’t reverse discriminate against vegetarians - the salad is the same price as the steak.”
You might (briefly) become a local personality. I gave a short reading at an event the other day, and on Monday I’m going to be interviewed on Radio Eketahuna! One of the best things about this residency is the local people - from both the New Zealand Pacific Studio community and the wider Wairarapa.
You can visit the New Zealand Pacific Studio's website and Facebook page for more information about their residencies.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.