Great writing rewarded by Australian Centre literary awards

October 15 / 169

Winners of the 2015 Australian Centre Literary Awards
Winners of the 2015 Australian Centre Literary Awards

Great writing by local talent has again been rewarded by the University of Melbourne.

The new writing prizes were announced during this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.

The awards are made each year by the University’s Australian Centre to writers in a range of genres to support emerging and established artists in Australia and New Zealand.

The Kate Challis RAKA Award is for Indigenous artists, and alternates over a five-year cycle to support novelists, poets, musicians, painters and playwrights.

Lionel G Fogarty won this year’s $20,000 RAKA Award for his book of poems ‘Mogwie-Idan: Stories of the Land, which judges described as ‘rich and inventive with language and viewpoint’.

The Affirm Press Creative Writing Prize was awarded to current University of Melbourne student Tobias McCorkell for an excerpt from his novel Barely Anything, which follows a group of twenty-somethings through the parties, bars, clubs and city streets of a new millennium. McCorkell, who is currently completing a PhD in contemporary Australian Literature, will receive professional editorial assistance from Affirm Press.

The $4,000 Wesley Michel Wright Prize was awarded to Australian poet David Stavanger for extracts from his “direct, immediate and funny” collection of poetry, The Special, with judges saying: “Any reader could easily fall victim to Stavaner’s guerrilla lyricism.

This year’s recipient of the Dinny O’Hearn Fellowship, Anupama Pilbrow, received $5,000 and a residency at the Australian Centre for her suite of poems entitled The Ravage Space.

The fellowship is renowned for discovering and supporting emerging writers and exciting new literature.  Pilbrow’s poems, in both Hindi and English and which speak to an Australian/South Asian diaspora, were described as both formally and linguistically fascinating.

Alan Atkinson and Tom Brooking were the combined winners of the Earnest Scott Prize, awarded $7,500 each for their work in Australian and New Zealand History.

Atkinson received high praise for the third instalment of his three-volume work, The Europeans in Australia, which analysed relationships between community and communication in Australia between 1870 and the end of World War I, while Brooking was awarded for Richard Seddon: King of God’s Own, an illustrated biography of New Zealand’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

Julia Leigh won for an extract from her upcoming autobiography, Avalanche, an account of her experiences with IVF.

Australian Centre Co-directors Ken Gelder and Denise Varney said each of these awards held great significance and celebrated the work of fantastic writers both nationally and internationally.

“These awards provide important links between the Australian Centre and a remarkably wide range of people and institutions across the country,” Professor Gelder said, “and are made possible through the generosity of benefactors who have a passionate interest in Australian literary writing and art.”

Story by Tiia Kelly and Sarah Gundlach

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