Catherine Chidgey and Harry Ricketts: The real thing

Mar 2023 | Short story, Small craft

This year (2023), AT THE BAY | I TE KOKORU hosts a book competition that will include, among others, the publication for a single-author set of short stories. How does the short story situate itself in Aotearoa’s literary history and how will this new publishing arrangement further support the development of short stories in our culture? 



Why the short story – from Katherine Mansfield and Frank Sargeson to Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace and Owen Marshall to more recent practitioners like Tracy Slaughter and Airini Beautrais – should flourish here and be, arguably, our most popular and well-wrought literary form, is one of those conundrums. Length no doubt plays its part but also the sheer variety of stories to tell and ways to tell them. Short stories create windows through which we snatch glimpses of other lives, other ways of being, while sometimes catching a glimpse of our own. At the Bay | I te Kokoru offers further opportunities for these stories to challenge and entrance.



The New Zealand short story has a formidable pedigree, from Mansfield and Sargeson, Frame and Duggan, to Marshall, Ihimaera, Wendt, Kidman and Grace, to Perkins, Morris, Beautrais and Slaughter – and now exciting new writers such as Lenihan and Lapwood. We’ve always admired the form, but in recent years we’ve taken the relationship to the next level, with a fair bit of PDA. I’m incredibly proud to be associated with the Sargeson Prize – our richest short story competition, sponsored by the University of Waikato; every year it has attracted enough outstanding entries to fill several anthologies. But literary prizes are not just about the money – they also bring writers invaluable attention. The long-established Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition has helped to launch the careers of many of our best-known authors; now we have Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon Short Story Competition bringing new voices to the airwaves, plus a whole range of excellent new outlets for publication – ReadingRoom, MayhemStarling and Headland, to name just a few. How thrilling, then, that At the Bay | I te Kokoru will make it possible for one of our many outrageously talented writers to publish their own collection! And what an excellent sign that we’re not just flirting with the genre, not just dabbling in an affair – this is the real thing.


The AT THE BAY | I TE KOKORU competition for a collection of short stories is open through 15 July 2023. For information about how to submit, go here.


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