Tracey Slaughter is a short fiction writer and poet who was born in South Auckland and now lives in Cambridge, Waikato. She holds a PhD from Auckland University and has been a lecturer of Creative Writing at the University of Waikato since 2008. Tracey’s third and most recent book, deleted scenes for lovers (Victoria University Press, 2016), is a collection of short stories mostly set in ‘bogan’ New Zealand and was longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Slaughter has won national and international prizes for her essays, short stories and poetry.
Tracey Slaughter (1972-) was born in South Auckland, and lived there until she moved to the Coromandel at age 10. She moved back to Auckland to study at the University of Auckland where she gained her Bachelor of Arts, Masters of Arts and then her PhD in 2002. Slaughter has worked as a tutor and lecturer of English at Massey University and the University of Auckland and she is now a lecturer of Creative Writing at the University of Waikato, a position she has held since 2008. She has been the editor of the University Online Literary Journal, Mayhem, since 2014. Slaughter lives in Cambridge with her partner and two teenage sons.
Slaughter’s first book, her body rises (Random House, 2005) is collection of short stories and poems confronting love, divorce, birth and death. Each piece ‘reflects on the evolving body as it goes through childhood, adolescence, motherhood and old age.’ A decade later, she released her novella, the longest drink in town (Pania Press, 2015), a story that traces ‘the history of a single traumatic event against the backdrop of small town life.’ It follows the points of view of a group of children going through the fallout of divorce, with the drama coming to a crisis on an afternoon on a small town roadside.
deleted scenes for lovers is a collection of short stories set in white, middle class, bogan New Zealand. The collection was longlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and was wonderfully received by critics, even if many readers had trouble sleeping afterwards. Reviewer Holly Walker (The Spinoff) said the stories are ‘note-perfect, plentiful, and pack an emotional punch that reverberates for days.’ Another reviewer, Grant Smithies (Sunday Star Times), said the stories almost gave him Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, yet he still recommends we tell all our friends to read it. As with much of Slaughter’s work, the characters in these stories face many of life’s traumatic truths – suicide, cancer, infidelity – which Slaughter delivers to us in images and resplendent detail.
Slaughter won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Novice Award in 2001 and she has since won numerous awards for her short stories and poetry. In 2010 she was awarded the Creative NZ Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary, and in 2014 she won the Bridport Short Story award for scenes of a long-term nature. Judge Andrew Miller knew as soon as he read it that it was something special, and said it is ‘a fine display of the difficult art of selecting the telling moment, the detail that speaks.’ He notes the language is heightened and is always working with the reader, to bring us closer to the intimate details.
Slaughter was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2014 and the Manchester Short Story prize in 2015 for ‘Stage Three’. Also in 2015, she was the winner of the Landfall Essay Prize for her non-fiction piece ‘Ashdown Place’. Judge David Eggleton said, ‘The burnished sentences and subtle imagery lifted Tracey Slaughter’s essay out of ordinariness.’ Slaughter herself said she had not set out to write non-fiction at that time of her life, but the ‘the writing flowed’ and she was surprised and thrilled to have won the Essay prize.
In 2019 Slaughter's poetry collection Conventional Weapons was published by Victoria University Press, describing the work as reflecting"cul-de-sac life, viewed through a grimy ranch slider."
In April 2021, a Slaughter's collection of stories Devil's Trumpet was published by Victoria University Press. Writing in the NZ Listener, Owen Marshall described it as 'a splendid collection, challenging and rewarding, with stories both memorable and revealing.'
She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Waikato and edits the journals Mayhem and Poetry NZ.
Updated July 2017.