Mikaela Nyman receives Creative NZ funding to organize free wellness writing classes in New Plymouth.
A writer from Taranaki wants to give back to her local community by offering wellness writing sessions at the library, while working on her first collection of poetry in English.
Writer Mikaela Nyman is the only person from Taranaki to receive Creative NZ funding during the first round of arts grants for 2021/22.
The New Plymouth-based novelist, poet and publisher will use the grant to write poetry and help others in a time of great anxiety due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The funding will also allow me to connect and share my skills and my writing journey with my local community over the next 12 months,” she said.
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“The project for which I received funding consists of two parts,” she said.
“This involves writing a first collection of poems in English on migration and belonging, as well as organizing a series of community art sessions at the library over the next 12 months.
The free hour-long Wellness Writing Classes will be held at Puke Ariki’s Daily News Cafe at 5:00 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month, starting September 29, or as soon as Taranaki enters the level of Covid alert 1.
“My goal is to encourage and inspire others to write their own poems or stories by sharing my own poetry project and my own journey of exploration in a safe, accessible and non-judgmental setting. “
Nyman, originally from an autonomous region of Finland, has a Taranaki partner whose family has lived in the area for several generations.
“The collection of poetry I’m working on is anchored in the black sand of Taranaki. The poems refer to my native islands land, which this year celebrates its centenary of autonomy, culminating in June 2022 ”, she declared.
“My first collection of poems was written in Swedish to overcome personal trauma and loss, and as a way to recover my mother tongue (Swedish).
The collection was shortlisted for the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2020.
Getting the Creative NZ grant is a huge boost for the word designer and mother of three.
“For any artist, receiving project funding to be able to pursue their creative work and vision is both recognition and a gift,” she said.
“For me personally, that means paid time to focus on my work wholeheartedly for the next six months, rather than having to adapt it to multiple job nets.”
This year is Nyman’s time to shine. She has also been named the 2021 Guest Artist / Writer in Residence for Massey University, Palmerston North City and Square Edge Community Arts Center.
Nyman was also the project coordinator and co-editor of Sista’s critically acclaimed Stanap Strong !, Vanuatu’s first female anthology. It was published by Victoria University Press (VUP) this year.
Her first novel, Sado (“Shadow / Shadows”), was published by Victoria University Press (VUP) in March 2020 and launched by acclaimed writer Elizabeth Smither at Poppies in July 2020.
Celebrating and supporting local writers is another passion for Nyman, who has been appointed to look after the new regional center of the NZ Society of Authors in Taranaki.
It will serve as a channel for writers, members and non-members, and an NZSA Taranaki Facebook page will be created this month.