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Young scribe takes a pride of place among resident writers


Shriya Bhagwat pursues excellence a la Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poet et al

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Shriya Bhagwat (Picture from NZ Society of Authors)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 29, 2021

When Shriya Bhagwat, a young writer on the grow, was told that she has been accorded a place among Resident Writers at the Michael King Writers Centre Trust next Winter, she may have been surprised, but we were not.

For, we know that she has what it takes to be a novelist- imaginative, observant, conversationalist, creative writing and most important of all, communicative.

Her long-term dream of writing a psychological thriller will come true as she joins other creative talents at the Resident Programme. With its salubrious setting, based in the historic Signal Man’s House on the slopes of Takarunga, Mt Victoria in the North Shore suburb of Devonport in Auckland, it would kindle the creativity in the young woman.

Aspirants and the subjects range

Other aspirants who will join Shriya at the Residency are Anna Rankin, Claire Baylis, Faith Wilson, Madison Hamill, Matthew Packer, Rose Lu,  Sinead Overbye, Tara Black and Shilo Kino. They will work on an exciting and eclectic range of topics such as poetry, experimenting hybridity exploring trans-language, an allegorical, contemporary novel of trees, dance and kidnapping that uses a feminist reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and a family’s struggle with a child in a coma, an investigation into the Western society’s rejection of the innate interconnectivity of nature. 

Some of the scribes will attempt essays that cover cultural collapse, abuse, violence, desire, morality, religion and Judaism, loss and death, class, feminism, love, film, socio-cultural phenomena, sub and counter-cultural movements, social and people’s movements.

About Shriya Bhagwat

Shriya will spend time at the Centre in discussions, planning and developing a novel, which could be a supernatural that explores the impact of loss and grief and examines the power of intuition and the emotional damage done when intuition is ignored. The Centre may even kindle her interest in attempting a book of short-stories.

Her impulse for writing is personal, which she undertakes primarily to understand the world, then to be seen, heard and understood. Her creativity (enveloping plays, film scripts, short stories and poems) focuses on people’s daily life rendered extraordinary by their unique personal experiences.

Shriya Bhagwat: Writing is an exercise in curiosity (Photo Supplied)

Connecting thoughts and expressions come naturally to her. A Reporter (in Mumbai and Auckland), a corporate communication specialist (in the same cities) and a keen observer of people and events, the proclivity to do something different and distinct has driven Shriya to undertake some unusual but popular projects. The first of these was a photo shoot titled ‘The Backstory Project,’ which told stories of migrants as they make Auckland their new home. It culminated in an exhibition which showed New Zealand’s largest city through new eyes.

Since then, Shriya has written poems, short stories, short films, feature films and plays.  Her work is across categories and genres in English, Hindi and Marathi.

Her bold venture, in the form of a play titled, ‘The Kamasutra Chronicles,’ under the banner, ‘Patralekhika Productions,’ (of which she is a Co-Founder), is scheduled to be staged in 2022, after being postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown over the past two years.

“Writing is something I do with curiosity and I want to know what I become through it. Consistency and disciplined work is the process. To love writing and having a passion for it is just one half of the story, it gets me so far. But to really grow, nothing works better than old fashioned hard work,” she said.

Personifying the adages that ‘Failure is the opposite but a part of success,’ and ‘Success is not final and failure is not fatal,’ Shriya has learnt that ‘rejection is nothing but training.’

The fact that humility is the first trait of a successful writer is inherent in this young scribe.

“My process is not glamorous at all and being largely self-taught until now, learning from rejection and failure has been a cornerstone of my process. It also meant that I had to learn the skill of actually receiving feedback, all sorts of feedback, sometimes it is not delivered in the most pleasant way either. Along the way, I learn the technique. One thing I know is that I started out with no special talent or gift. I was a rather ordinary student in school and a lot of the world did not make much sense to me sometimes. At best, I had the courage to follow the creative impulse,” she said.

The Michael King Writers Centre in North Shore, Auckland (Photo from Website)

About the Residency Programme

Launched in 2005 with funding by Creative New Zealand, the Residency Programme offers opportunities for about 20 writers throughout the year, with each residency spanning two to three weeks. The supported residency opportunities are available to New Zealand writers for their nominated project. Writers who are selected for a residency receive free accommodation at the Michael King Writers Centre, use of the writer’s studio and receive a stipend ranging from $1400 to $3000 per residency.

Projects can be fiction, drama, creative writing or in non-fiction. Applicants must be born in New Zealand, hold New Zealand citizenship or be Permanent Residents. Writers who live in Auckland are welcome to apply but would still be required to stay at the Centre for most of their residency. Writers who are employed by Universities are not eligible to apply for a project that is part of their academic work.

“Rejection is nothing but training”- Shriya Bhagwat (Photo Supplied)

Applications for residency opportunities usually open in September each year and are made available through the website. More than 100 authors have held residencies at the Centre from 2005, while the first international residency was in 2013.

Board of Trustees Chair Melanie Laville-Moore said that this year’s panel has selected 19 persons out of 109 applicants totalling 522 individual applications across all the available categories. A continuing trend is the high number of applicants in the emerging writers category, she said.

“There is clearly a large and growing demand for developing writers to have an opportunity to retreat and work on their craft. This underpins our kaupapa of supporting grassroots growth in the literary sector. Established writers who have received residencies include Ashleigh Young, Clare Moleta, Emma Espiner, Erik Kennedy, Gillian Candler, Mandy Hager, Michele Powles, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith and Vana Manaisadis,” she said.

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