Jillian Sullivan

ANZL Member


Jillian Sullivan lives in a small village on a high alpine plateau in Central Otago. Her books include creative non-fiction and poetry, and her latest novel (long-listed for the Michael Gifkins Award) as well as essays and short stories. Of the book Fishing from the Boat Ramp, a Guide to Creating, Joy Cowley wrote: ‘I would call Fishing from the Boat Ramp a must for all writers, whatever their status. I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 50 years and was once Jillian’s mentor. With this book she had become my teacher.’ In 2014 the book was Highly Commended at the London Book Festival for a spiritual book.  Jillian was awarded a Master of Creative Writing, with Distinction, at Massey University in 2011 and teaches writing in New Zealand, in Philadelphia for Rosemont College (creative non-fiction), and in Pennsylvania for the Highlights Foundation. Once the drummer in a woman’s rock band, and now grandmother of nine, her passion is natural building.

Jillian’s numerous awards include: Runner-up in the Sunday Star Times Short Story Award, 2002, the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, 2011 (now the book Parallel); Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award, Student City 2011 for a novel manuscript (beginning of Recognition); The Takahe Poetry Prize, 2016 (runner-up 2015); Winner of the New Zealand Society of Authors Beatson Fellowship, 2017 for a collection of essays, and the 2018 Juncture Memoir Contest in America. She was also the winner of the 2018 Elyne Mitchell Writing Awards, Non-Fiction (Australia) and winner of the 2019 NZ Heritage Literary Award for poetry.

In her latest book Map for the Heart – Ida Valley Essays (Otago University Press, 2020) Jillian walked the hills and mountains in the Ida Valley where she lives, following the Manuherekia River from the mountains to its confluence with the Clutha/Mata-au. In doing so she explored the ways in which we grow in intimacy with where we live; how our histories, and those of the people who went before us, our experiences of loss and love, our awakening to what is around us, bring us closer to community – closer to a meaningful life.  Map for the Heart is a haunting collection of essays braiding history and memoir with environmentalism, amid an awareness of the seasonal fluctuations of light and wind, heat and snow, plants and creatures, and the lives and work of locals.



Jillian’s website
Jillian on Twitter
Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page
NZ Society of Authors bio page
Perro Negro: Essay ‘Between Lands’  (Oct, 2020)
Perro Negro: Five poems and introduction (Oct, 2020)
Juncture Notes interview ‘Contemplating the Art of the Essay’  (July, 2018)
Takahé online review of Parallel (2015)
Landfall review of Parallel: Poetry, what the body can and can’t do, by Siobhan Harvey (2015)

New releases by Jillian Sullivan

Map for the Heart: Ida Valley Essays (poetry & essays)

Published by Otago University Press on October 8, 2020

Bibliography: Jillian Sullivan



Parallel  (Steele Roberts, 2014)


Creative Nonfiction

Map for the Heart – Ida Valley Essays (Otago University Press, 2020)

A Way Home- building a new life and a strawbale house in Central Otago (memoir: Potton and Burton, 2016)

Fishing from the Boat Ramp – a Guide to Creating  (Steele Roberts, 2009)



Animal Literary Magazine (USA)
Perro Negro (UK)
The Chattahoochee Review
North and South
Ka Mate Ka Ora



Ko Aotearoa Tātou/We Are New Zealand (Otago University Press 2020)

Warren Trust Architectural Writing Awards Collection (New Zealand Institute of Architects, 2018)

The Walls Between Us (Juncture Notes, 2018)

Home (Massey University Press, 2017)

The Unexpected Greenness of Trees (Caselberg Press, 2016)

Plate in the Mirror (Printable Reality, 2016)

Boundaries (Penguin Random House, 2015)

We Society (Printable Reality, 2015)

Poems4Peace (Printable Reality, 2014)


'Novels stand outside time, with their narrative structure of beginning, middle and end. They outlast politics, which are by nature ephemeral, swift and changeable and can quickly become invisible, detectable only to the skilled eye. ' - Fiona Farrell

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