Accomplished poet, editor, art critic and journalist David Eggleton has been awarded the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency.
He will use the $30,000 award to complete a collection of poems exploring his Pasifika heritage. These will include poems inspired by the myths and legends of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa and will incorporate work about Mana Moana, the power of the ocean and ancient Pasifika connections.
“I hope to research and begin a prose memoir about my mother’s extended family, my cousins, scattered across the Pacific,” said Eggleton.
David Eggleton is of Rotuman, Tongan and Palagi descent. He grew up in Fiji and South Auckland, and now lives in Dunedin. Formerly a factory labourer and city council gardener, he is now a full-time editor, poet, art critic, reviewer and freelance journalist whose reviews, articles, essays and short stories have appeared in a large number of publications since the mid-1980s. These include the Listener, Art New Zealand, New Zealand Books, Art News, Architecture New Zealand, Urbis, Metro, Landfall.
“My Pasifika heritage runs all through my writing from the beginning as part of my personal context and background and I have always drawn from this heritage and history, but not necessarily overtly: instead it is there as a presence or part of a dialogue with ideas about cultural crossover,” said Eggleton.
As the recipient of this year’s award, David will be based at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Honolulu for the Spring (February-May) semester of the US academic year.
Hawai‘i has been identified as a strategic location for artists and is considered the hub of Pacific writing with its numerous universities, library resources, networks, writers’ forums and publishers. It is also an important link to the mainland US and has a strong indigenous culture.
“I heard about the Fulbright residency through conversations with a number of Pasifika writers and have been aware of it since its inception, but this is now the time I feel ready to take it up and use it to allow me to develop a particular Pasifika-based project, namely to complete a collection of poems exploring my Pasifika heritage.”
The Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency is for a mid-career or senior New Zealand writer of Pacific heritage to carry out work on a creative writing project exploring Pacific identity, culture or history at the University of Hawai‘i for three months. One award valued at NZ$30,000 is granted each year, to be put towards the costs of three months of writing.
Previous recipients have included poets Tusiata Avia, Karlo Mila and Daren Kamali, filmmakers Sima Urale and Toa Fraser, and playwrights Victor Rodger and Miria George.