Mary McCallum

ANZL Member

Mary McCallum is a fiction writer, poet, songwriter, editor and publisher who has published a novel The Blue (Penguin, 2007) and a poetry collection XYZ of Happiness (Mākaro Press, Submarine, 2018). She has worked as a freelance feature writer, book reviewer, broadcast journalist and television presenter. Mary has won and been nominated for key awards and bursaries, and has published fiction and poetry in literary journals. Mary is the inaugural winner of the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize and her children’s novel Dappled Annie and the Tigrish won a Kirkus Star in the US.

Mary was born in Zambia, and has lived in New Zealand since she was four. She has a BA in English Literature and Political Science from the Victoria University of Wellington (including studying under Bill Manhire) and an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from the International Institute in Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington. She has worked as a broadcasting journalist in New Zealand and Europe, and continues to work as a freelance writer and reviewer. She has also worked as a tutor, including teaching creative writing at Massey University. Masry has been a feature writer for New Zealand ListenerDominion PostThe PressNew Novel Review, and since 2002 she has reviewed books for Radio New Zealand and in 2007 for the Good Morning show on TVNZ.

In 2013 McCallum co-founded Mākaro Press with her son Paul Stewart in Wellington, New Zealand, publishing books in a range of genres with a focus on fiction and poetry. In 2018, McCallum co-founded a second press – The Cuba Press – with Sarah Bolland, and focused Mākaro Press on a limited number of titles a year eventually reducing it to a single literary novel. The Mākaro novel for 2019 was Auē by Becky Manawatu, which went on to win New Zealand’s top fiction prize: the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize, as well as the MitoQ Award for Best First Novel and the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Two of Mākaro’s other novels have won the best first book of fiction award and two others have been longlisted. One of the press’s poetry books has also been longlisted for the poetry award.

Mary’s poetry collection XYZ of Happiness was included in the Listener’s list of top ten poetry books 2018, and led to Mary’s inclusion in Paula Green’s anthology of Aotearoa women poets. Her award-winning novel, The Blue, was reprinted twice in 2008 and translated into Hebrew in 2009. The Blue won the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction and Lilian Ida Smith Award, and the Readers’ Choice Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Her second novel is still a work in progress, with the early drafts funded by the Louis  Johnson Bursary awarded in 2008.



Mary McCallum’s blog

Penguin Random House writer page

Mākaro Press writer page

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

The Spinoff feature ‘The rise and triumphant rise of Mākaro Press’ (May, 2020)



Bibliography: Mary McCallum



XYZ of Happiness (Mākaro Press, Submarine imprint, 2018)



The Blue (Penguin Random House, 2007)

'My readers turn up...and I meet them as human beings, not sales statistics on a royalty statement.' Fleur Adcock

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