Announcing the winners of the 2013 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards
The 2013 ACT Writers Centre Award winners were announced at the end-of-year Christmas celebrations, held on 12 December at the Bogong Theatre in Gorman House Arts Centre, Braddon.
The annual awards include the Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award, the Michael Thwaites Poetry Award, the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards and the Zane Hills Wines Award for Book Reviews, as well as this year’s inaugural Anne Edgeworth Writers' Award for Young Writers. The winners and highly commended are listed below.
Irma Gold was also recognised with an award for Outstanding Service to Writing and Publishing in the ACT & Region for her work with The Invisible Thread anthology.
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Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award
Michael Thwaites Poetry Award
- Judge: Kaaron Warren (novelist)
- Winner: Monica Carroll for “This square called a ring”
Judge’s comments: “ ‘This square called a ring’ is the story I kept thinking of days after first reading it, the one whose voice was so original, so distinctive, I wanted to read more. This is a talented author. The story shows some wonderful phrasing and the story is told in a somewhat experimental, absolutely successful way. The author draws us into the life of this character until we feel her pain intensely.”
- Highly Commended: Michelle Brock’s ‘Breath’ and Claire Delahunty’s ‘Feather-light’
ACT Writing and Publishing Awards: Nonfiction Book Category
- Judge: Harry Laing (poet)
- Winner: Penny O’Hara for ‘Ode to a toothbrush’
Judge’s comments: I like the confidence in this poem. It knows where it wants to go. Homely, yes, domestic certainly but executed with a nice sense of humour and even a touch of pathos. The important thing for me is this poem has a definite shape, the metaphors are disciplined, care has been taken with the line-breaks and the logic. Also, the sense of rhythm is sure, something that's getting harder and harder to find in contemporary poetry.
- Highly Commended: Claire Delahunty’s ‘After nights’ and Rebecca Fleming’s ‘An untimely death’
ACT Writing and Publishing Awards: Fiction Book Category
- Judges: Matthew Ricketson (professor of Journalism and Creative Writing at University of Canberra) and Jen Webb (professor of Creative Practice at University of Canberra and editor of the journal Axon: Creative Explorations
- Winner: G.A. Mawer for Canberry Tales: An Informal History (Arcadia)
Judge’s comments: GA Mawer's Canberry Tales is based on solid research into the stories of our region, and the people and events that have brought us to Canberra in 2013. The writing demonstrates a real understanding of how to connect with a readership, and how to turn incidents and anecdotes into an accessible history.
- Highly Commended: Ann Nugent’s Leaving the Rest Behind: An Immigrant’s Story (Leaving the Rest Behind)
ACT Writing and Publishing Awards: Poetry Book Category
- Judge: Alex Adsett (consultant and literary agent for Alex Adsett Publishing Services) and Gia Metherell (former Canberra Times literary editor)
- Winner: Kaaron Warren for Through Splintered Walls (Twelfth Planet Press)
- Highly Commended: Nigel Featherstone’s I’m Ready Now (Blemish Books) and Donald McMaster’s Provocation (Arcadia)
- Judges: Judith Crispin (Director of Manning Clark House) and Michael Farrell (2013 UNSW Canberra Creative Fellowship)
- Winner: Melinda Smith for First…Then…, published by Ginninderra Press
Judge’s comments: “[First…Then… is an] emotionally brave and truthful testimony of raising a child with autism, elegant poems across a range of diverse styles, unashamedly feminine, humorous and lively forms.”
- Highly Commended: Suzanne Edgar’s The Love Procession (Ginninderra Press), Leon Trainor’s In Country (Bat Trang Road Press)
ACT Writing and Publishing Awards: Children’s Book Category
Z4 Award for Book Reviews
- Judges: Jackie French (bestselling children’s writer) and Sue Whiting (writer and editor at Walker Books)
- Co-Winners: Tanya Davies’ Sarah’s Song (A Tiny Publication) and Mary Teychenne’s My Aunt Ate a Plate (Starry Night Publishing)
Judge’s comments for Sarah’s Song: ‘Sarah's Song is a poignant tale of family and friends, music and fame, chasing your dreams and the search for identity in a changing world. Set in the UK, Davies paints a vivid picture of protagonist, Sarah's less-than-perfect life. Sarah is a credible teen character who develops much strength and resilience through the course of the story as life throws many challenges at her. The story is interspersed with blog posts and song lyrics and taps well into the interests and concerns of teen girls, and should have much appeal to its intended readership.’
Judge’s comments for My Aunt Ate a Plate: ' A glorious celebration of words and how to get them straight- especially appreciated by a dyslexic judge. Fun and wise at the same time.'
Anne Edgeworth Writers' Award for Young ACT Writers
- Judge: Carol Middleton (review writer for Australian Book Review and Australian Stage Online, travel writer for The Age)
- Winner: Duncan Driver’s article “Who Let the Dogs Out?” as appeared in Canberra Times on 7 July 2012
Judge’s comments: Duncan Driver’s review of Martin Amis’s novel Lionel Asbo: State of England is written in a style both fluent and intimate, and meets the objectives of a good book review. It entertains and informs those readers who are unfamiliar with the author’s work, evaluating the new work in the context of his earlier work and telling us just enough of the story to whet our appetite. It also satisfies those who are familiar with the author, and Amis himself, with an intelligent appraisal of his work.
- Winner: Brian Obiri-Asare
Comments from the selection committee: We were pleased with the broad range of talent evident in this year’s applications to the inaugural Anne Edgeworth Writers' Award for Young ACT Writers. From poets to novelists to playwrights, it’s clear the ACT is home to a talented group of budding writers. With such diversity, it was hard to narrow down our shortlist. However, we are delighted to announce that this year’s winner is Brian Obiri-Asare. Brian is a law student and playwright. His presentation to the selection committee was passionately delivered, and his comments about plays being a “fundamental part of culture” resonated with us. We were impressed with how Brian’s writing intertwines the themes of law, immigration, and indigenous culture. We hope that this award of $4,500 will help him to realise the production of his play ‘In Between the Solitude of Sunburnt Islands’, as well as undertake research for a longer work of fiction that he has in progress.
The Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award was established by Don McInnis to commemorate the life of his wife, a short story writer who lived in Canberra and passed away on 25 September 1997. The Michael Thwaites Poetry Award, previously called the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Award, was renamed in 2010 in honour of Australian poet Michael Thwaites, who passed away in 2005. The Anne Edgeworth Writers' Award for Young ACT Writers was established in 2013 to honour Anne Edgeworth (also known as Anne Godfrey-Smith) who was a prominent poet, writer, theatre director, academic, conservationist and mentor to young writers.
The ACT Writing and Publishing Awards are sponsored by Paperchain Bookstore. The Zane Hills Wines Award for Book Reviewing is sponsored by Zane Hills Wines. The ACT Writers Centre would also like to thank Bytes ‘n Colours for sponsoring the awards night.
More information about the awards and the winners can be found at www.actwriters.org.au