Engage Aotearoa

The Inside Story

The Inside Story

of The Butterfly Diaries

The Butterfly Diaries

In December 2011 we called for people who had recovered from the experience of being suicidal and wanted to share how they got through it. At the same time, we called for writers who wanted to write these stories to help prevent suicide in New Zealand.

Six people came forward to share their experiences of finding their way to a better place and six writers took up the challenge to work with their interview notes to creatively tell their stories. Four stories are included in Volume 1 and the remaining two will be included in Volume 2.

Read on to meet the writers and storytellers…

The Butterfly Diaries, Volume 1

Raewyn Alexander: Emerging From the Past Transformed, Mary’s story in creative essay form

Raewyn Alexander is a novelist, poet, short story and essay writer. Her popular blog is http://poeticjourneytoamerica.blogspot.co.nz/ world-wide. Work includes 11 books – novels, (Penguin), non-fiction (David Ling), and poetry (AUP and Earl of Seacliff), also a chapbook and CD recording, (poetry to music), Family of Artists, writing in many magazines and anthologies in NZ, Australia and the USA, while Radio NZ broadcasts her stories. Also, she’s an editor, publisher and educator. One of her essays was recently shortlisted in the top five of the prestigious Landfall Essay Competition.

Mary* was a successful PhD student carrying a history of trauma she wanted to escape. She used a Maori model of mental health to gather the support she needed to make it to a better place.

 Story Sample: Emerging from the Past Transformed

Henrietta Bollinger: Welcome to Today, Alice’s journey in short-story form

Henrietta Bollinger has been sending her work into the world since 2009 when she performed at The Parnell Festival of Roses and had a story published in Redraft. She was awarded the NZSA CNZ Youth Writing Mentorship in 2010 and also continued to publish and perform. She has since been writing for Tearaway Magazine and keeping her creative spark alight through joining Rising Voices, a competition and series of workshops through which she met some amazing performance poets full of words and fire. Most recently Henrietta had a short play performed as part of Scratch New Writers Night; her piece was a collection of observations and ideas stemming from being a young woman with a disability.

Alice* had been dealing with anxiety and anorexia since she was a young girl and couldn’t see a way out. She recovered with the help of hospital staff, therapy and some unexpected twists of fate that changed the way she looked at everything.

Story Sample: Welcome to Today

Owen Bullock: Enough Angels, Sean’s story in Haibun form (a short-story/poetry hybrid)

Owen Bullock is a poet, short-story writer and teacher born and bred in Cornwall who has lived in New Zealand since 1989. Bullock has won awards for his poetry and is widely published in New Zealand and overseas. He has been an editor of several magazines, including Poetry NZ, Takahe, Bravado and Kokako. He has published poetry, haiku, fiction and non-fiction.

Sean* had lost both parents by the time he finished university in Korea. As an adult he found himself in an unhappy marriage he believed he could not leave and dealing with the aftermath of manic episodes that left him with plenty of regrets. He recovered with the support of his siblings, a fresh start in New Zealand and finding people who shared his values and world-view.

Story Sample: Enough Angels

Phoebe Wright: Breathe and Breathe and Breathe, Brad’s journey in short-story form

Phoebe Wright grew up in Christchurch and recently graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor’s in English and Political Science (double major). Her short stories have been published in The Six Pack (2006) and the Redraft series (2005-2010). She now focuses on writing further stories and poetry, with a focus on spoken poetry and storytelling.

Brad* was bullied at school and came to be tormented by voices that mirrored what he’d been through at school and made it seem like there was no escape. He recovered by connecting with therapy, replacing unhelpful coping strategies with helpful ones like self-care, exercise, mindfulness and breathing.

Story Sample: Breathe and Breathe and Breathe

The Butterfly Diaries Volume 2 (Coming up)

Maureen Irvine: Rebuilding Camelot, Tess’s journey in short-story form

Maureen (Mo) Irvine is a writer and poet who lived in the UK, North Africa and Greece before settling in New Zealand ten years ago with her writer/poet husband. Her work has been extensively published in the UK, USA, Greece, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She enjoys writing short stories, poetry, articles and essays, and is currently working on a trio of sci-fi novels.

Tess* survived ongoing abuse from a very early age. By the time she tried to take her life, Tess had an abusive partner, a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder and the thought that everyone would be better off without her.

Genevieve McClean: Between the Sun and the Moon, Jane’s journey in short-story form

Genevieve McClean works with different forms of word-based performance and presentation.  Performer and writer, her poetry has been heard all around New Zealand as well as abroad over the last twenty years.  She spent several years singing and touring with Dunedin band Mink, while studying for her degree in theatre and literature, and graduated from the NZ Drama School in 1997.  Her solo play ‘Word’ in 2000, received favorable reviews, and both ‘SeeYd, and ‘Kombination’ are devised award-winning scripts that had Genevieve on the team.  She has acted on and off-screen, here and in Europe and in the last several years has taught in interdisciplinary arts, voice and creative writing. Under the insignia ‘Fat Blossom’, Genevieve produces her own performance events, theatre works and films, with a strong interest in collaborative and multi-disciplinary work.

Jane* had a history of unhappy childhood experiences and difficult relationships. She was also an expert in hiding her distress, which left her stuck in it alone.

*Note: All storyteller names have been changed to protect their privacy.