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Zen and Creative Writing workshop

Richard von Sturmer

During Labour weekend (Saturday 21 & Sunday 22nd October, 2017), Richard von Sturmer is offering a two-day workshop on Zen and Creative Writing.

The workshop will explore the teachings of Zen and how they can tap into our imaginative processes and bring forth a creative response to our world. 

Richard has been practicing Zen for 35 years and is an acclaimed New Zealand writer. He is well known for having written the lyrics to Blam Blam Blam's "There is No Depression in New Zealand", which has become the country's alternate national anthem. More about Richard below.

Workshop Schedule

Saturday 10 a.m. - 3.30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. - 3.30 p.m.
Lunch will be from 12 - 1 p.m.
You can bring a packed lunch or visit a local cafe (five minutes' walk from the centre).

The workshop will be divided into four sessions:

  • Saturday morning: The Art of Paying Attention
    To begin with we'll look at qualities shared by Zen and haiku, taking lessons from the three great haiku masters: Basho, Buson and Issa. We'll also discover how haiku can be a way for us to write in the present moment.

  • Saturday afternoon: Living Words
    We'll take up a selection of "living words" from the Zen tradition and employ them as aids for our writing. We'll also work with tanka, the five-line verse form, and explore the way tanka can introduce a subjective/emotional perspective into our poems.

  • Sunday Morning: Words Wish to Speak
    This session will focus on the craft of writing and, for a writer, the importance of loving words and bringing forth their potential. We'll engage in a series of exercises aimed at generating writing.

  • Sunday Afternoon: Walking or Sitting
    We'll review the ground covered in the preceding sessions. Then there will be the option of either (a) going on a haiku walk around Onehunga, or (b) taking part in a practical introduction to Zen meditation by Sensei Amala Wrightson.


$150 GST inclusive ($130 for AZC supporting members).

Notes on cancellation and refunds: Should you be unable to attend, a substitute is welcome to attend in your place at no extra cost. Alternatively, a refund less $50 service charge per registrant will be made for cancellations received in writing (email or letter) up to five working days prior to the workshop. Regrettably, no refund can be made less than five working days prior to the event. However, you will be sent the workshop materials on request. You are responsible for your own travel/accommodation bookings and no travel/accommodation compensation will be made should the workshop be rescheduled or cancelled.


Please register here.
Payment with registration is required to confirm your place.

Internet transfers may be made to Auckland Zen Centre, Kiwibank #38 9005 035812500. 

Critical responses to Richard's work:

"I am full of envy at his way with language." Albert Wendt on A Network of Dissolving Threads

"This delightful book is a book of sweet harmonies, unexpected, enthralling. Richard’s poetry is aglow with wisdom, empathy and a love of poetry. I urge you to add this book to your shelves." —Paula Green on Book of Equanimity Verses

"The author's emotional intelligence is acute, his use of language unerringly precise, his sensibility so disciplined, and yet so flexible, that I am tempted to admit that the book does explain everything." —Martin Edmond on This Explains Everything

More about Richard

In the 1980s Richard and his partner, Amala (Charlotte) Wrightson, toured the country as the performing duo, The Humanimals. From 1993 to 2003 he lived and worked at the Rochester Zen Center, a Buddhist community in upstate New York. During that time his work appeared regularly in literary journals and anthologies. His poetry has been included in An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry (Oxford University Press, 1997), Best New Zealand Poems 2003, Best New Zealand Poems 2006 and Best New Zealand Poems 2008. At the end of 2003 he returned to New Zealand and in 2004 founded the Auckland Zen Centre with Sensei Amala Wrightson. Six collections of his writing have been published including: A Network of Dissolving Threads (AUP, 1991), Suchness: Zen Poetry and Prose (HeadworX, 2005), Book of Equanimity Verses (Puriri Press, 2013) and This Explains Everything (Atuanui Press, 2016).