Author, poet, playwright, and scriptwriter Damien Wilkins will be the next Director of Victoria's International Institute of Modern Letters.
Currently a Senior Lecturer in the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), Mr Wilkins will take up the position when Professor Bill Manhire retires at the end of January 2013.
"I am delighted that Damien will be the next Director of the IIML. We are very fortunate to have such a talented writer and teacher leading the Creative Writing programme into the future," says Professor Deborah Willis, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Mr Wilkins says he is looking forward to beginning his new role. "The IIML is the country's premiere destination for creative writers, with a growing international reputation. I'm thrilled about having the chance to extend the astonishing legacy Bill Manhire has built up over the years."
Mr Wilkins is the author of nine books, including the novels The Miserables, which won the New Zealand Book Award for fiction in 1994, and Nineteen Widows Under Ash, which was joint runner up for the Deutz Prize for Fiction in the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. His novel The Fainter was runner-up for the Montana Medal for Fiction in 2007. In 2008 he was awarded the New Zealand Post Mansfield Prize to travel to Menton, France, where he produced his latest novel Somebody Loves Us All.
He has scripted numerous works for television, radio and more recently theatre. His television scriptwriting includes work on Duggan and The Insiders Guide to Happiness and his first play, Drinking Games, was produced at Circa Theatre in 2008. Mr Wilkins was the founding editor of literary journal Sport, and has been an active member of many initiatives to foster creative writing in New Zealand throughout his career.
Mr Wilkins first joined Victoria's English Department in 1985 as a Junior Lecturer, before leaving for the United States to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Washington University, St Louis. He remained a close friend of University on his return, teaching creative writing courses and editing a number of Victoria University Press publications. He has held the position of Senior Lecturer in creative writing at the IIML since 2003.