Johanna Emeney

ANZL Member


Johanna Emeney is a teacher, writer and editor. Her first collection, Apple & Tree (Cape Catley, 2011) introduced her to publisher Dame Christine Cole Catley (1922 – 2011) and to the Young Writers Programme, which Chris was running with Rosalind Ali. Jo ended up being a fortunate third member of this team, and enjoyed co-facilitating the YWP workshops with Ros until 2020.

Jo completed her BA, MA, and PGCE at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She gained her PhD at Massey, Auckland. Her thesis became two books. Family History (Mākaro Press, 2017) is a homage to her mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and then died in a car accident a few months afterwards. Like the nonfiction text published in 2018 (The Rise of Autobiographical Medical Poetry and the Medical Humanities) Family History discusses the relationship between doctors and patients, the disruption to family dynamics catalysed by a terminal diagnosis, and the complex processes of grief. Paula Green called the collection “a skin-shaking eye-pricking heart-skipping glorious read.” In a similar vein, the idea of a poet commenting on the medical world was well received by Jane Chamberlin reviewing in Ariel: ‘This volume should be on the desk of every physician, every medical school dean, and every English studies scholar. The Rise of Autobiographical Medical Poetry and the Medical Humanities poses urgent questions about humanizing the medical practice at a time when the wisdom of poets is desperately needed.’

A senior tutor in creative writing at Massey, Jo’s research interest is medicine and poetry. In 2020, she wrote a chapter for Routledge’s Companion to Literature and Disability, about poets from New Zealand, the USA and the UK, whose work shows formal innovation or polemical intent related to their experience of embodiment.

There are many poems featuring animals in Jo’s most recent collection, Felt (Massey University Press, 2021), but it is also about people, and about emotional connection, often using the animals as vehicles to communicate this idea. Lynley Edmeades writes for the ANZL, ‘Emeney writes a world in these pages where kindness and concern are the currency, where what is felt is the poet’s first language.’



Massey University Press writer page

Mākaro Press writer page

NZ Society of Authors writer page

Landfall review of Felt (September, 2021)

ANZL review of Felt (May, 2021)

Radio NZ Saturday Morning interview with Kim Hill discussing Felt (April, 2021)

Channel Magazine interview discussing Felt (April, 2021)

Radio NZ Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan interview discussing the Poetry NZ Yearbook (March, 2020)


New releases by Johanna Emeney

Felt (poetry)

Published by Massey University Press on April 8, 2021

Bibliography: Johanna Emeney



Felt (Massey University Press, 2021)

Family History (Mākaro Press, 2017)

Apple & Tree (Cape Catley, 2011)


Creative Nonfiction

The Rise of Autobiographical Medical Poetry and the Medical Humanities (ibidem, 2018)



 New Zealand Poetry Yearbook (Massey UP, 2020)



Poetry New Zealand Yearbook (Massey UP, 2019)

Signals 1-8 ([with Rosalind Ali], published by the Michael King Writers Centre, Crazy Snail Press and Penguin Random House 2012 – 2019)

Best New Zealand Poems (Victoria UP, 2013)

Dear Heart: 150 NZ Love Poems (Godwit, 2012)



‘Myxomatosis’ in Landfall (Issue 239, May 2020)

‘Tick Boxes’ in Landfall (Issue 235, May 2018)

‘Cool Storage’, ‘Anonymous’ and ‘I am Losing You Again’ in Snorkel (#22, 2016)

‘Cracked’ in Trout (2016)

‘One Criticism of Your Novels‘ in Turbine (2016)

‘This Vehicle Kneels on Request’  in Sport 43 (2015)

‘Norma-Jean, Naomi, Tammy and Grace’ in Australian Poetry Journal (2015)

‘Couples Therapy’, ‘On My Shoulders’ and ‘Heartache All Around’ in Sport 42  (2014)

‘Ham Bag’ in Turbine (2014)

‘Captions’ in Snorkel #17 (2013)

Making Contact’ in Trout (2012)














'NZ literature is such a vast and varied thing' - Pip Adam

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