In episode 5 of Deathwalker's Guide to Life Season 3, I speak with author Iona Winter (Waitaha) about the role of grief and creativity in suicide bereavement.
Iona Winter is the author of three published collections of poetry: Gaps in the Light
(2021), Te Hau Kāika
(2019) and then the wind came
(2018). She has recently completed her fourth.
First and foremost, though, Iona is a mother who knows grief. Her tama (son) Reuben took his own life in 2020 during the pandemic.
In 2022, Iona received the CLNZ / NZSA Writers’ Award to write a non-fiction book on being suicide bereaved. While researching grief in all its complexities, she says it became apparent that New Zealand lacks non-academic and personalised resources for grief; unlike most other countries.
In January 2023, Iona launched her side project Elixir & Star Press (ESP*), as a dedicated space for the expression of grief in Aotearoa.
ESP* opened for multidisciplinary submissions to a new 'Grief Almanac' from New Zealand based creatives earlier this year, and Iona received well over 200 submissions.
'All expressions were welcomed, since grief by its very essence is a universal experience,' she says.
Iona selected mahi (work) from 103 artists: poets, photographers, musicians, storytellers, and visual artists, who come from diverse backgrounds, ages, creative ability and expression.
The new anthology, which is titled a liminal gathering
, celebrates the destigmatisation of grief, by making it relatable through multiple creative lenses, and to normalise the various ways grief can be expressed. The almanac seeks to provide comfort, and act as a taonga to be shared between loving hands, during difficult times.
Iona is hoping to raise $14,000 via the Boosted campaign and publish the anthology in November 2023.
Iona recently moved to the Tasman region, from Ōtepoti Dunedin, and joined me in Fresh FM’s Motueka studio to discuss her experience of suicide bereavement and the inspiration for the anthology.Please support the Boosted campaign for a liminal gathering if you can, and invite your family and friends to join you