The lamps are lit and shining. Image from T3L website


I arrive at Gus Fischer Gallery for the launch of The Three Lamps Journal at 5.30 on the dot. There are catering staff walking past with plates of sushi and bottles of Merlot so I gather I am in the right place. However, at 5.40pm there is a noticeable lack of literary alumni. I ask a woman standing near the door and she informs me that “Paula Morris’ event was moved to the Old Synagogue.” I turn on my heels and power walk up Shortland Street.

The Old Synagogue is buzzing under its cavernous ceilings. The snatches of conversation I overhear all concern “word count” and “publishers” (must be in the right place). Sure enough, I soon see Sir James Wallace talking to Selena Tusitala Marsh, the new Poet Laureate of New Zealand. Paula Morris is orbiting the room, preparing for the launch of The Three Lamps Journal. The event is double-billed, as the winner of the Sir James Wallace Masters of Creative Writing (MCW) prize will also be announced.

But first, the journal. The Three Lamps journal is an online literary publication, funded by the University of Auckland’s Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education (CLeaR). A showcase of creative work by Auckland students, alums and other local writers, The Three Lamp Journal is edited by Paula Morris and student editors from ‘English 344: Writing Creative Prose’. The journal is released bi-annually, placing writing by university students beside respected writers from Aotearoa. Given the name of the journal, which it shares with the intersection of Jervois and Ponsonby Road, I ask Sophie van Waardenberg, one of the student editors, if the journal only publishes work set in Auckland Central. She informs me that while the writing is not exclusively set in Auckland, most of the writers are Auckland or NZ based.

Image from T3L website

Other student editors are leaning against the wall, holding ipads, which will be used to launch the website. I begin to ask Sophie about the editing process, but Paula Morris taps her pen against a glass, and Robert Greenberg (Dean of Arts at the University of Auckland) steps up to the podium.  “Paula makes her students work hard” he began, “but without the energy of teachers like Paula, our department wouldn’t be what it is today.” Greenberg believes the “power of the arts and philanthropy” are “culminating in a renaissance of the arts”, which judging by the turn out to the event, is well underway. Greenberg then thanks Sir James Wallace, who is a benefactor of the Masters of Creative Writing at the University of Auckland.

Screenshot from T3L website

The microphone is then given to the “wonderful Paula Morris.” She “confesses” her love for teaching creative writing, being able to engage with students and how they articulate the world. She speaks about the work that goes into an arts degree, and being halfway through a BA myself, I know what she means. As Morris draws attention to, these scholarships and student-alumni collaborations are important, as they offer inter-disciplinary learning, that the Arts Faculty needs to embrace. The Masters of Creative Writing and projects like The Three Lamps Journal also allows students to “move beyond the constrictions of a degree”, establishing a lively literature scene in Auckland. At the end of her speech, Morris urges those present to buy a book by a New Zealand author, published by a New Zealand publisher and sold in a local bookshop. Finally, the twelve MCW students step forward and the winner (Amy McDaid) is announced. “Alright, the ordeal of the event is over”, says Morris, waving a hand. I leave feeling inspired, and look forward to checking out the journal.

You can access The Three Lamps Journal here:

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