Posted on December 6, 2018 by ACT Writers Centre

Paul Collis, winner of the ACT Book of the Year

Canberra-based poet and Barkindji man, Paul Collis, has been awarded the ACT Book of the Year at our ACT Writers Centre Publishing and Awards Night for his work Dancing Home.

The Centre’s awards evening and Christmas party, held on Thursday 6 December at the Ainslie Arts Centre, brought together over 100 members of the arts, writing and publishing community to celebrate and recognise creative works.

Michael Pettersson, Member for Yerrabi, made the presentations for artsACT’s ACT Book of the Year, for which 5 writers were shortlisted:


  • Merlinda Bobis for Accidents of Composition 
  • Paul Collis for Dancing Home
  • Jackie French for Facing the Flame
  • Omar Musa for Millefiori
  • Rachel Sanderson for The Space Between

We also presented our family awards and fellowships:

The June Shenfield Poetry Award, judged by Anne Shenfield and Lesley Lebkowicz was awarded to Natalie Cooke, for her poem, Incursion, Extinctions.

The Marjorie Graber-McInnis Short Story Award, judged by Allison Booth:


Amanda McLeod, Loyal Animals

Runner up:

Kerrie Nelson for the story, Rollover.

Highly Commended:

Pamela Blakeley, #CaraToo

Maurits Zwankhuizen, Shade

The Anne Edgeworth Young Writers Fellowship, was presented to Gemma Killen by Anne Edgeworth’s son, Tony Godfrey-Smith. Gemma will receive support from the Trust for assistance with a program to help her develop her craft and skills in writing for the screen with a focus on comedy scripts.  Her current project is to write about the everyday experiences of LGBTQI people.


ACT Publishing Awards

Our ACT Publishing Awards were founded in 2004 to recognise, reward and promote writing by ACT region authors that has been published by small publishers or been self-published. The Centre administers these awards, which are presented to works published in 2017 across 4 categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Children’s books and Poetry.

The Fiction category was judged by Jack Heath and Claire Leyton


  • Kirsty Budding, Paper Cuts

Highly Commended:

  • Stephanie Buckle, Habits of Silence
  • Catherine McCullagh, Dancing with Deception
  • Jennifer Shapcott, Long Odds

The Nonfiction category was judged by Karen Middleton and Zoya Patel


  • Robert Lehane, Verity

Highly Commended:

  • Terry Fewtrell, George, Elise and a Mandarin
  • Jennifer Gall, Looking for Rose Paterson
  • Peter Stanley, The Crying Years

The Children’s category was judged by James Redden and Penny Davis


  • Maura Pierlot, for Trouble in Tune Town

Highly Commended:

  • Tania McCartney, This is Banjo
  • James Sanderson, Sherlock Holmes Case of the Stolen Crown AND Sherlock Holmes Howl of the Baskervilles

The Poetry category was judged by Lesley Lebkowicz and Shane Strange


  • Paul Cliff, A Constellation of Abnormalities

Highly Commended:

  • SK Kelen, Yonder Blue Wild
  • Moya Pacey, Black Tulips
  • Sarah Rice, Fingertip of the Tongue


Paul Collis during his poetry reading

Other highlights of the night included a beautiful reading of poetry by ACT Book of the Year winner, Paul Collis. He read a selection of short poems, covering love, loss and pain, family, country and culture.


Changes to Our Team

Our awards evening was also the perfect opportunity to welcome Paul Bissett, Interim Director of the Centre for the past six months, as our permanent Director.

We bade farewell to outgoing Director, Sarah Mason, as well as former Office Manager and Communications Officer, Elisabeth Howie. Current outgoing Communications Officer, Sophie Mannix was recognised for her contribution to the Centre since 2014, and Claire Delahunty was welcomed as our new Communications Officer. We also farewelled our Deputy Chair, Rachelle Hare.

As the formal part of the evening wrapped up, we took the opportunity to thank our generous friends, volunteers and the whole Writers Centre Board for their hard work and support in 2018.

We’d like to reiterate this thanks to: intern Jo Christophers; workshop volunteers Josh Miles and Elizabeth Muller; ‘unofficial tech support’, Nathaniel Bloomfield and volunteer news editor Phillip Berrie, who was conferred a lifetime Membership by the Centre.

To our sponsors and partners: artsACT; The Australia Council; Bytes n Colours; Harry Hartog; Eden Road Wines; Canberra Community Art Space; University of Canberra; UNSW Canberra; National Library of Australia; Street Theatre; Sue Terry (Whispering Gums); Canberra Writers Festival; First Nations Australia Writers Network; Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres – our sincerest thanks, for supporting us in our simple mission, developing writers and their work.

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