Young Writers Competition










Whakarongo ki te reo o te kākā tarahae
Listen to the call of the poet’s voice! 

Entries are invited for a national creative writing competition inspired by the forthcoming production of OrphEus, a dance opera, to be performed at the New Zealand Festival in March 2018. This competition is open to poets and fiction writers aged between 16-25. We invite entrants to respond in some way to the myth of Orpheus.

Orpheus is best-known for his ability to charm with music and poetry, and for his journey to the underworld to save his wife Eurydice. Your writing might choose to relocate Orpheus to a contemporary setting; or it might focus on Eurydice or some other figure in the myth. It’s up to you how to play with the myth.

Michael Parmenter, who has created OrphEus, the dance opera, has said this about the work: “Orpheus speaks to the capacity within us all to be attuned to the song of the world. He is one of us, with our extraordinary possibilities, but also our frailty and vulnerabilities”.

The winner receives:

  • A double pass to the Writers & Readers Gala event at the 2018 New Zealand Festival
  • Individual writing session with award-winning author Damien Wilkins, Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Flights to Wellington if required
  • A New Zealand Dance Company memento

Competition Rules

  • Entries must relate in some way to the Orpheus myth
  • Entries can be either short stories or poems
  • Entries must be no longer than 1000 words and must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant
  • Entries can be submitted electronically or by hard copy
  • Handwritten entries will not be read
  • You can submit multiple entries
  • You must be between 16 – 25 years old to enter
  • If you are a student, please include the name of your school/tertiary study provider
  • Closing date is 31 January 2018


Please email entries to: [email protected]

or post to:

Orpheus Writing Competition
International Institute of Modern Letters
PO Box 600
Victoria University of Wellington