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Ritika 2023 and Marissa 1998- Now and Then

Earlier this year, we tracked down writers across the world who had their first publication with Write On Magazine and we buddied them with current students.

Marissa Johnpillai attended School for Young Writers back in the 1990s and went on to tutor with us before gaining an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University and then heading overseas. Marissa’s writing has appeared in Poetry NZ, Catalyst, Axon, blackmail press, Takahe and The Press, among others. She currently lives in Melbourne.

"The best part was being together with other kids who cared about the craft of writing. " marissa

Ritika, aged 13, has been a Write On Saturday mornings student for 4 years. She has been published in the Write On magazine and was successfully placed in the Seaweek poetry competition and the Speaking 4 the Planet competition.

Something a bit special happened in this project! The writer that Ritika was first matched with was not able to continue. Then Marissa responded all the way from Melbourne and we were able to make a new match. Ritika enjoyed reading Marissa's pieces published in Write On magazine between 1998-2000 but she was particularly inspired by a more recent poem of Marissa's she found online. This happened to be the exact same piece that Marissa submitted, I am not New Zealand.


by Ritika

i am

cupboards of spices

mustard seeds crackle and spit and attack

i am


that winter turns

stunning white

i suppose

i am

rather lucky

it’s only the little things that

make me remember

i am neither

foreign nor native

i am neither

i am neither

and yet

i am both

in new zealand

i see

so many

shades of white -


a language of

water and air

other colours

other sounds

interwoven through

the paler strands

returning to india

i remembered

how many shades

of brown there are too


by a language

of rhythm and earth

other colours

other sounds


to ghosts

(but i want

a world

of infinite colours,

infinite rhythms

and shades)

first languages

are curious things

You can read I am not New Zealand by Marissa and an interview between Ritika and Marissa here:

Thank you to Plains FM for support with the recording of the voices and to Copyright Licensing NZ for a funding grant that allowed us to archive 30 years of magazines and to develop this project.

The funding from Copyright Licensing NZ also went towards the redesign of our print magazine Write On 60: Memories and Milestones. It is a beautiful new design for our anthology. Copies are still available to order HERE

(c) Write On 2023


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