Thursday, February 14, 2013

The best of New Zealand young writing

Walking a Tightrope in Bare Feet
the best of New Zealand young writing, selected by Tessa Duder and James Norcliffe.
ISBN 9780958288897
RRP 34.50

This is the 12th book in the Re-Draft series which annually showcases creative writing by New Zealand teenagers.

As James Norcliffe said in his introduction to The World’s Steepest Street, the 10th in the series (2010) , those who appear in Re-Draft are “not only young writers but very good writers who just happen to be still in their teens.”  The Re-Draft books provide a glimpse of the future of New Zealand writing and the future looks very bright indeed.

From hundreds of entries received from all parts of New Zealand, the selectors judge the quality without knowing the names, ages, locations or gender of the entrants. As might be expected, those who are of senior high school age or perhaps in the first year or two of university study tend to fill much of the book, but Year 9, 10 and 11 writers often win places where many of their elders miss out.

Each year the deadline for entries is 30 September. Judging is completed in October, and then there's a mad rush for School for Young Writers director Glyn Strange to edit, design, publish and launch the book before Christmas. The standard of the publications is said to be astounding given the time frame. Unlike some other competition organisers, Re-Draft does not place an embargo on entries for inordinate lengths of time. It has to be recognised that there is a limit to how many fine stories or well-turned poems teenagers still in the education system will have time to write, and competition organisers should be willing to give them as many opportunities as possible to succeed.

Publication is the prize (and a free copy of the book for those who achieve this level of excellence). There are normally 40 or more "winners" a year, so cash prizes are out of the question. The real writers are the ones who just want to see themselves in print and the very best come back year after year. Some who leave New Zealand to take up further study overseas cannot resist the lure of publication in Re-Draft. They're happy with their free copy and the glow of achievement in a tough competition. It is normal that regular entrants express sadness at turning 20 and becoming ineligible for the competition, but at least by then they have built up a solid portfolio of published work.

Available from all good booksellers, and from The School for Young Writers, PO Box 21-120, Christchurch 8143. Can be ordered direct from the School for Young Writers website where the RRP includes postage and packaging.

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