Janet and her writing

Janet WainscottJanet Wainscott is a poet and essay writer. Her work has been published in literary magazines and anthologies in New Zealand, the US and the UK and commended in international competitions. For a day job, she works as a part-time literacy tutor.

She is based in Lincoln, near Christchurch, New Zealand.

What’s new?

Janet has been honing her poetry skills at the Canterbury Poets’ Collective (CPC) readings. She regularly takes part in the open mic and is an invited reader at the 2023 Autumn season.


2020 Commended in the Hippocrates Prize, an international award for poetry on a medical subject. My commended poem, ‘This is How it Ends’ focused on end of life and the use of restraint.

2019 Winner of the NZSA Heritage Short Prose Award for my essay ‘The Missing’, described by the judge, Paul Maunder, as ‘a perfect piece of heritage writing…. There is genealogy, there is research from the time and use of newspaper articles, there is sociological information, family letters, a present-day visit to the Somme, and some elements of fictional imagining.’

2017 Winner Heritage Writing Competition, Poetry section
My poem was ‘Reading the Sky’, which, according to judge Gail Ingram ‘is a poem filled with beautiful images’ and it ‘points to the importance and power of personal transformation as we keep searching to find our way.’

2017 Highly Commended New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition

2014 Shortlisted Fish Short Memoir Competition


My work has been published in the following magazines and anthologies:

2020 Shot Glass Journal #31
2019 takahe #98
2019 Landfall 238
2019 Shot Glass Journal #28
2018 NZPS anthology
2018 The Fib Review #30 (read here)
2018 takahe #94
2017 NZPS anthology
2017 The Fib Review #28 (read here)
2016 Shot Glass Journal #19 (read here)
2016 Leaving the Red Zone: Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes (Clerestory)
2010 takahe #70
2010 Bravado #19


2018 My favourite success for 2018 was seeing my essay “Disappearing Traces” published in the beautiful online magazine, The Island Review.
2009 Crest to Crest: Impressions of Canterbury (Wily Publications)
2014 takahe #83

‘What Are You Doing Here? Reflections on Dementia’


‘What Are You Doing Here? charts the journey of my mother from mild confusion to severe dementia, from being cared for at home by my father, to her final years in residential care. I started writing while my mother was still alive, but at that stage I was making notes and writing a few short pieces, with no intention of writing a book. I was trying to understand what was going on in my mother’s brain, and more importantly, how the world must have seemed to her as the disease progressed.

After my mother died, I kept writing. One of the things that inspired me was that I came across people who had looked after a parent or spouse who had dementia, and who later became volunteers working with people with dementia or involved in fundraising or other forms of advocacy. I didn’t think I would be very good at either volunteering or fundraising, but I thought, ‘I can write. I can tell my mother’s story, and I can share the stories that others have told me.’

‘What Are You Doing Here?’ is more than a memoir; it is an unsentimental but compassionate account of dementia that draws on interviews with other family caregivers and incorporates my own reflections about dementia.

The initial print run has sold out. Copies are available in most New Zealand public libraries.