2012 ACT Writers Centre awards results
The 2012 Award winners and highly commended entrants were announced at the 2012 ACT Writers Centre Christmas party, held on 13 December at Mercure Hotel, Braddon.
15th annual Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award
Judge: Penny Hanley.
Winner: Paper Cranes written by Rachael Rippon.
Judges comments: Paper Cranes stands out for its original expression and sustained POV and haunting voice. It had powerful metaphors throughout and the reader really cares about the characters. The story stays in the reader's mind long after finishing it. The suspension of disbelief was total as the reader became immersed in the internal world of the narrator.
Highly Commended: Levity written by Fiona Hamer
Judges comments: Levity is chosen for its startling originality. I thought it was very clever and had a sustained voice and point of view and a perfect tone for the subject. It was funny and sad and very thought provoking. I'd have liked to have tied it with the first but there were a few typos and little mistakes, and I had to choose only one winner.
Michael Thwaites Poetry Award
Judge: Lizz Murphy.
Judge's comments: Thank you to the ACT Writers Centre for the opportunity to read the entries for this year’s Michael Thwaites Poetry Prize. It is always a privilege to read new work from poets in the Canberra region. Congratulations to the winner and highly commendeds.
Winner: I would say something of water written by Isi Unikowski
Judge's comments: The winner is a poem about the weight of water and our varying attempts to contain and measure it; the force of water as it ‘incises a lichen smile across granite’ - or leaves ‘children to shout/their obituaries from the defeated trees.
It’s also a poem about time: ‘the earth passing a hand over its face’; ‘a conversation never closed’; the re-figuring of truth and the way it ‘courses through its own gullies and wadis.
The poet explores difference found in the all too often stereotyped suburbs, subtly and effectively: ‘So to the soldiers in the suburbs/to those who shared a smoke by pits/who crouched in minarets...’ Histories are embedded in the memories of old town residents and contrast with ‘new histories incised on skin.
This poet’s conversation is a descriptive journey and a joyful adventure with imagery and language.
Highly Commended: Kamakazi written by Hazel Hall
Judge's comments: A painterly and moving poem written effectively in the voice of a Kamikazi pilot, it has the texture of stitch and cloth, blood and dream, honour and ache. The poet takes you on the young man’s journey through preparations for his final flight. The last image is as brutal as it is beautiful.
Highly Commended: Deduction written by Monica Carroll
Judge's comments: Crossing the boundaries of poetry and prose and original in its approach, this is an engaging poem where life is spelt out in shopping dockets, and where everything from the complications of ‘the winterness of tax’ to relationships without a ‘compass to guide us from being hurtful,’ is played out on the dining room table. It is a poem of desire.
ACT Writing and Publishing Awards
Poetry book section
Judges: Harry Laing and Tim Metcalf.
Winner: The Indigo book of Australian Prose Poems by Michael Byrne
Judges' comments: This landmark collection is a worthy winner with its fine representation of Australian prose poems from the last forty odd years. It proves the prose poem has earned a distinctive place in the poetry scene. It also demonstrates what a flexible instrument the prose poem can be: humorous, whimsical, adventurous and pungent. All in all a genuine and rewarding resource for all kinds of readers. Michael Byrne and Indigo Press are to be applauded for their initiative in assembling this book. And Michael Byrne congratulated for his excellent cover drawing.
Judges: Kel Robertson and Kristen Alexander.
Winner:The Sound of Silence - Journeys through Miscarriage edited by Irma Gold.
Judges' comments: The Sound of Silence - Journeys through Miscarriage was the stand-out winner on every level. This book proved to be compellingly readable, boasted good production design and evidenced careful, respectful editing. Although neither of the judges initially expected to be taken by this volume, both ultimately found it absorbing and uplifting. The writing was of the highest quality and deserves a readership well beyond its niche market. In short: An inspirational book and a clear winner.
Highly Commended: How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria. Improving your chances of winning a job’ by Dr Ann Villiers
Judges' comments: The book is a slick, highly readable, professionally designed and competently edited guide to the complicated process of applying for public sector jobs. If there is a better, more helpful, tool around for first time and seasoned applicants, the judges were not aware of it.
Highly Commended: Homes for the Workers. The History of the Narrabundah Pre Fabs by Alan Foskett
Judges' comments: It is a valuable local history which, by separating the core historical narrative from personal memoirs, ensured that each category of content was able to be fully appreciated by the reader. In summary, this is an interesting, important and well researched local/social history.
Judges: Kaaren Sutcliffe and Gillian Lord
Winner: Fall on Me by Nigel Featherstone .
Judges' comments: A clever, poignant and engaging plot, and the pace is quietly and consistently held. Interest grows as the story and the relationship between the father and son unfold, polished and compelling. Carefully drawn and cannily observed characters, who develop in a plausible and appealing way. The reader is showed, not told. Judicious use is made of back-stories to define the characters; the reader never loses curiosity. This work is carefully and beautifully crafted, no showiness, no gratuitous sentiment, an example of skill and talent being put to outstanding use.
Highly Commended:Sun on Distant Hills by Elizabeth Egan .
Judges' comments: It is a good and ambitious story, with an engaging theme about a young woman growing up in Australia during the 1930s and 40s. The story is fit-for-purpose and tackles a number of interwoven themes. In some places the characters' point of view could have been held more deeply, and the interrelationships teased through a tad further. The pace was generally good, although some chapters were a little rushed compared to others. Overall it is an ambitious, sweeping project with its heart in the right place.
Highly Commended: Two Steps Forward by Irma Gold .
Judges' comments: A strong point of this anthology is the characters, who were beautifully drawn in a lyrical and evocative style. It would be interesting to see how this writer would develop characters over a longer work. The pace is well maintained, with each story engaging, fresh and avoiding sameness in plot, although the overall sadness is a hallmark. Each story is a complete experience on its own, and this writer has a distinctive, lyrical style that is a standout.
Judges: Diana Harley and Dr Stephanie Owen Reeder
Winner: Nancy Bentley: The First Australian Female Sailor by Tracey Hawkins, illustrated by Jacqui Grantford (New Frontier Publishing)
Judges' comments: we were disappointed by the small number of entries in this category. All three of the picture books entered showcased the potential of both the authors and the illustrators. However, the picture book genre is a particularly challenging one, and all three books also exhibited some flaws in text, illustration and design. It was difficult to choose a winner, as each book was very different in terms of writing style, illustrations and subject matter. However, the final decision was unanimous. It was based on the overall quality of the writing and the narrative integrity of the book. The winning title was thoughtfully written and well-designed. It presented a true story in an interesting and engaging way.
Z4 Wines Award for Book Reviewing
Judge: Stephen Wilks
Winner: 'Speed of Book Trade' by Colin Steele, a review of Merchants of Culture – The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B. Thompson, published in The Canberra Times on 29 January 2011
Judge's comments: Fifteen entries were submitted for this prize, from nine reviewers. Most are of works of non-fiction, with history topics particularly well represented. Only a few entries covered novels, and one reviewed a volume of verse. Some reviews presented strongly individual voices; all showed knowledge of the topic and a related ability to draw out the significance of the book under review. Most conveyed the excitement of exploring a fine book on a subject that provides an opportunity to display a reviewer's skills.
Colin Steele’s review of Merchants of Culture is not just clear and entertaining, as all good reviews should be. He uses this book as a basis for ranging knowledgably across the important issues it raises on the future of books and of the publishing industry, yet also stays focussed ultimately on the book under review. There is an evident empathy with the author’s intent, and the short format of the review is used very efficiently to make many different points. He also succinctly identifies this book’s limitations. Enthusiasm and a clear interest in the topic are features of most entries for this award, but here they are particularly skilfully harnessed to form a coherent, purposeful and fluent narrative. Finally, he ends the review well – never easy to do. Long live the book, in whatever form!
Z4 Wines award for Restaurant Reviewing
Judge: Ed Charles
Winner: Grazing by Louisa De Liseo. Grazing was published on Her Canberra on May 27, 2011
Judge's comments: No comments were given for this award.