Renee Liang (1973– ) is an Auckland-based poet, writer, playwright, theatre producer, medical researcher and practicing paediatrician. For her work in arts, science and medicine, Renee was named a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader in 2010. She won the Royal Society Manhire Prize in Science Writing for Creative Non-Fiction in 2012. In 2018, she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Arts.
Renee Liang (1973– ) is an Auckland-based poet, writer, playwright, theatre producer, medical researcher and practicing paediatrician. She attended the University of Auckland, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery in 1996, a Master of Creative Writing in 2007 and a Postgraduate Diploma of Arts (Theatre) in 2009.
Her first book of poetry, Chinglish, was published by Soapbox Press in 2008, and was shortly followed by the collections, Banana (2008) and Cardiac Cycle (2008), both published by Monster Fish Publishing. Cardiac Cycle is a book of sonnets about the events taking place in the human heart between two heartbeats, illustrated by artist Cat Auburn.
When We Remember To Breathe (2019) is her most recent book. A collaboration with author Michele Powles, it came about when the two writers pledged to write each other a paragraph each week during their second pregnancies. In an interview with the NZBC, Renee called it ‘our personal record of the early years of motherhood – the moments we’d like to freeze and keep forever; the moments of change and realisation. It’s a correspondence between two mothers who became friends in the process of writing to each other.’
Renee has also received acclaim for her work as a playwright. She has toured seven plays to festivals and venues nationally. Her play The Quiet Room was shortlisted for the Adam Play Award in 2013, won the teen section of Playmarket’s Plays for the Young in 2014, and SWANZ award for Best Play in 2016. Under the Same Moon was a finalist in the SWANZ Best Play Awards in 2015. In 2017, she adapted her play The Bone Feeder into an opera, writing the libretto with music composed by Gareth Farr. Her first musical, Dominion Road the Musical (composed by Jun Bin Lee), was produced in 2017, with further productions planned.
An interactive digital narrative work, Golden Threads (2017), created for Auckland Museum (with Allan Xia), won the Play by Play Award for Diversity in 2017 and has gone on to be exhibited in China. Inspired by real historical figures and events, Golden Threads explores and celebrates the history of Chinese immigrants to Aotearoa in the 19th century.
Renee has also been running community writing workshops for almost a decade, with New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories, a recurrent month-long writing workshop for migrant women run in collaboration with Auckland Council and Local Boards. This initiative has so far launched 8 anthologies of migrant women’s writing and spawned some new writers. A 2019 initiative, The Kitchen, invites NZ writers into home kitchens with neighbours sharing stories over food.
Renee was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to the Arts in the New Year’s Honours List 2018. She won a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leadership Award in 2010 and the Royal Society Manhire Prize in Science Writing for Creative Non-Fiction in 2012 with a personal essay on epigenetics. She won NEXT Woman of the Year awards 2018, Arts and Culture category. She also was a recipient of the 2018 D’Arcy Writer’s Grants with her essay on Child Poverty to be published in North and South magazine in 2019.
Renee's page at Playmarket.
When We Remember to Breathe at Magpie Pulp.
Golden Threads, Renee's recent piece of interactive fiction.
The Bone Feeder at SOUNZ.
Renee's MNZM citation.
Updated June 2019.