Friday, August 29, 2008


New Zealand-born writer Jennifer Compton has lived in Australia for most of the past 30 years so she finds herself in the odd position of being called an Australian across the ditch and a kiwi writer here.
She will discuss this and other aspects of her trans-Tasman writing career in conversation with Mary McCallum (chair of the Randell Cottage Friends) as part of the Writers on Monday series at the National Library Auditorium.

For the past six months, Jennifer has been living in NZ as writer-in-residence at the Randell Cottage. She is writing her first novel All the Time in the World set in the Wairarapa and finishing a book of essays, but she is more widely known as a poet and playwright.

Compton was born in Wellington, in 1949 and had two poems published in the NZ Listener when she was 15. In 1972 she travelled to Sydney, and attended the Playwrights’ Studio at NIDA. The play she wrote for this course, Crossfire, jointly won the Newcastle Playwrighting Competition in 1974 and premiered at the Nimrod Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. The play was presented by Downstage Theatre in Wellington in the late 70s.

Before her two children were born she flew backwards and forwards across the Tasman and worked in both countries. Her radio plays (A Wigwam For A Goose’s Bridle, Morning Glories, Several Local Dandelions) were produced by the ABC and RNZ. And she won the Bank of NZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 1977 for her story ‘The Man Who Died Twice’.

Then she moved with her family to Wingello, a small town on the Southern Highlands of NSW, and concentrated on writing poetry and short prose.
In 1995 her poem Blue Leaves won the Robert Harris Poetry Prize and she was awarded the NSW Ministry For The Arts Fellowship during which she wrote a book of poetry, Blue, which was short listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize, and a stage play, The Big Picture, which premiered at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney and was published by Currency Press. It was performed by Circa Theatre in Wellington in the late 90s.

Jennifer’s book of poetry, Parker & Quink, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2005 and her next book of poetry, Barefoot, is ready to go. A book of reflections about travel and place - The Wrong Side Of The Road - is nearly complete.


Anonymous said...

Jennifer Compton won the BNZ KM award in 1977?
That's strange: I have distinct memories of winning it that year with "Hooks & Feelers."

I think you'll find her win was in 1979...

Anonymous said...

See this link where it notes:
1975: Keri Hulme
1979: Vincent O'Sullivan

Anonymous said...

After checking the provided link, and rechecking at the other Book Council site -which gives the winners as I provided them-I decided to go by what my cv says. And you're right: it says 1975 (1977 was the Maori Trust Fund prize for writing in English...)

Anonymous said...

oh goodness - I get so muddled sometimes - but it does seem as if after all it was 1977?
never mind - it was all so long ago - way back in the 70s last century

cheers - from jen compton

Anonymous said...

ah - i get muddled a lot - it was so long ago

it was 1977 it seems after all so i don't have to change it

cheers - jen compton

apologies if this appears twice - didn't seem to work when i posted it a moment ago