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Chris Price Wins New Zealand Post Mansfield Literary Prize

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Victoria University has produced the winner of the prestigious New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize for the second year in a row.

Wellington poet and writer Chris Price, who is also a lecturer at Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), has been awarded the 2011 New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize, following in the footsteps of the IIML's Director of Scriptwriting Ken Duncum, who won the prize last year.

This residency programme enables a New Zealand writer to work at the Villa Isola Bella in Menton, France, where famed writer Katherine Mansfield lived and wrote in 1919 and 1920. The $80,000 Prize covers return travel to France and living and accommodation expenses.

Chris Price's works include poetry collections Husk, for which she received a best first book award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and The Blind Singer. She also produced Brief Lives, a hybrid work that was shortlisted for the then Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2007. She is co-convener of the IIML's Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

Ms Price says it's not every day one gets a phone call that will change your life. "This is the best kind of challenge for a writer. Katherine Mansfield once wrote 'Oh, to be a writer. A real writer given up to it and to it alone.

"This prize permits me to do the very thing that Mansfield most wanted to doI feel I owe it to her to succeed," Ms Price said.

While in Menton she intends to research and complete a creative non-fiction manuscript that will use elements of biography, essay and travel writing to explore the life and early death of the eccentric English poet and anatomist Thomas Lovell Beddoes. Ms Price will also work on a poetry collection.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Victoria University, Professor Deborah Willis, says the win is an outstanding achievement for Ms Price and Victoria.

"Her success is a further demonstration of the calibre of staff at the International Institute of Modern Letters who are making a habit of winning this prestigious award."

Other IIML staff members to win the award include Ken Duncum (2010), Damien Wilkins (2008) and IIML Director Bill Manhire (2004).

The New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize has supported many authors over the years, including Janet Frame, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent O'Sullivan and Dame Fiona Kidman.

The New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize is offered in conjunction with the Winn-Manson Menton Trust and administered by Creative New Zealand.

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