This page is a space for creative writing opportunities created by the AAWP and our partners. For more, non-AAWP, prizes and activities, see the News thread.
AAWP prizes have been ratified by Arts Law:
‘Arts Law was very impressed with AAWP’s attitude, which clearly demonstrated AAWP’s respect for writers.’
You can read more here: https://www.artslaw.com.au/case-studies/fair-terms-for-writing-competitions/
Got a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
AAWP/WESTERLY MAGAZINE LIFE WRITING PRIZE
In 2022, the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) and Westerly Magazine are offering a prize for Life Writing. We welcome submissions of autobiography, biography, memoir, and essays. We celebrate Life Writing as a rumination upon memory and experience and encourage creative and hybrid approaches.
The prize is open to writers at all stages of their journey; emerging and established writers are welcome to enter. The prize recognises excellence in nonfiction, creative nonfiction and hybrid modes of storytelling. Hybrid storytelling is broadly conceived as storytelling that crosses traditional boundaries of nonfiction and creative nonfiction and/or is experimental in form.
We invite you to send Life Writing submissions of up to 3500 words. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, a one-year subscription to Westerly, and conference fees to attend the annual conference of the AAWP, where they will be invited to read from their work. Please see item 3 (Terms and conditions). The winner’s work will be considered for publication by Westerly.
We encourage you to take advantage of this stunning opportunity to celebrate diverse interpretations of nonfiction, creative nonfiction and hybrid modes of storytelling, and be welcomed into the thriving community of writers associated with the AAWP.
AAWP/EXPRESS MEDIA SUDDEN WRITING PRIZE
We were deeply interested in capturing a composite “picture” of what people are writing about. Now. We invite creative work—short-short fiction, “sudden” fiction, “sketchy” stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, as well as hybrid forms.
We accept submissions on the following scale: up to 400 words prose, 40 lines for poetry, 200 words for prose poems, and the equivalent for hybrid forms. Submissions must be previously unpublished.
The winner receives $500, their work published on the Express Media website and a Voiceworks subscription, and a one-year membership to the AAWP.
2021 Winner: ‘Crack’ by Zoe Davidson
Read the winning entry on the Express Media website, here.
The judges unanimously selected this dystopian scene for its completeness and subtlety. There is a gentle violence depicted here that is both thought-provoking and haunting; a destroyed world whose circumstances are at once oblique and specific.
This is a salutary tale written in an understated and beautifully crafted style – simple, yet elegant.
Z.E. Davidson lives in rural Tasmania, but as a child she travelled South-East Asia with her parents and brother. She has seen white tigers in the Singapore zoo and gone snorkelling off the coast of Indonesia. As a five-year-old, Zoe pulled her younger brother from the turbulent, muddy-brown Klang river in West Malaysia, after he over-balanced reaching for a coconut shell amongst the floating garbage. Her childhood experiences of spoiled paradises are the inspiration for much of her writing, including ‘Crack.’
Highly Commended: ‘Everyday Supernovae’ by Jeimer Ng
Judges’ Report: ‘Everyday Supernovae’ beautifully mirrors the flash fiction form, taking tiny moments to reflect something infinitely large and complicated. Images that could seem overly familiar are refreshed by the quality of the voice and the originality of the juxtapositions it draws.
2020 – ‘Little Apocalypse’ by Raphail Spartalis.
Read the 2020 winning entry on the Express Media website, here.
AAWP/UWRF TRANSLATORS’ PRIZE
This prize is offered in partnership with the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF), and is open to translators at any stage of their career. The prize includes a ticket to the UWRF, accommodation for the duration of the festival, and up to $1000 towards economy airfares. The winner also receives one year’s membership to the AAWP, fully subsidised conference fees for the AAWP’s annual conference in November, and will be considered for publication by the editors of Meniscus! Entries must be no more than 30 lines (poetry) or 3000 words (prose), and entrants can translate their own work into English. Entries must be accompanied by a ‘Translator’s Statement of Intention’ (up to 400 words) addressing the aims of the translation.
Read the full terms of entry here.
To enter, head here.
2021 Winner: ‘White Moss’ by Irina Sadovina
The fragment from Russian to English chosen is the opening of White Moss, a novel by Anna Nerkagi, a Nenets writer, novelist, and social activist from Siberia. The excerpt sets up the novel’s main event: a loveless wedding. The translation has a strong rhythmic sense and pronounced cadence. Instead of long formal words rarely used in intimate everyday speech, the translator has chosen short, basic words that rhythmically force the reader to go slow, to weigh each simple word. As a consequence, the translation communicates a visceral feeling, a sense of urgency, a sensation of impending doom. The tone is serious, yet lyrical. From the first paragraph, the reader is acutely aware that they are about to cross some barrier and the prose elegantly crosses the barriers between ethnicities. The world of the novel is familiar, yet strange. In the translator’s statement, we read:
The biggest challenge were the terms that describe traditional lifeways and are associated in the Russian context with indigenous Northern peoples: for example, chum – a tent dwelling (pronounced ‘choom’), or narty – a long sleigh. I judged against using ‘indigenous-sounding’ terms in English (e.g., tipi), which would introduce cultural inaccuracies and exoticism. In the spirit of Nerkagi’s language – clear, not overburdened with ‘exotic’ detail – I opted to simply use ordinary English terms like ‘tent’ and ‘sleigh.’
It seems to me that this was a wise decision: it gives rise to a familiar yet strange evocation of the setting. The statement also points out Nerkagi’s ‘extended metaphors reminiscent of Old Norse kennings, which in translation often result in beautiful alliteration.’ Transferring this poetic dimension into the target language is no easy task; it highlights the ethical dimension of this translation, one that was first advocated by Antoine Berman in les tours de babel (1985).
Curiously, there is a film adaptation of Nerkagi’s White Moss directed by Vladimir Tumaev with English subtitles, but no English translation of the novel exists yet.
Irina Sadovina is a translator from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia. She was shortlisted for the Academia Rossica Young Translators Award back in 2011, and she is now looking forward to getting back to translation in order to highlight works that reflect Russia’s incredible cultural diversity. She has a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Literature and Cultural Research (Folklore) from the University of Tartu. She is working as a University Teacher of Russian at the Modern Languages Teaching Centre at the University of Sheffield. Irina was selected for the prestigious Emerging Translator Mentorships Programme 2022:
Highly Commended: ‘Dante: The Faery and the Wizard’ by Alberta Adji
Judge’s Report: The translation excerpt introduces the story of Dante: The Faery and the Wizard by Alberta Natasia Adji to an anglophone audience. It portrays a boisterous young man-faery who has to leave his familiar surroundings to save his adopted family and ‘navigate … cultural exchange and assimilation in a magical society.’ The submission captures the protagonist’s fluid mental state as a shape-shifting faery in order to give the reader an intimate picture of the career of a teenage faery Kotick (who later calls himself Dante) as a young news apprentice based in London.
Highly Commended: ‘Collecting Butterflies’ by Kevin Windle
Judge’s Report: Collecting Butterflies by Sergei Aksakov was first published in 1859. The work is therefore in the public domain. The translation strives to reflect the perception of the author as a consummate stylist. I loved this translation, though on further consideration, decided the repetition of ‘that’ in the opening sentence spoilt the syntax and overall elegance of the rendition in English.
- 2020 – ‘423 Colours- excerpts from the Spanish novel 423 colores by Juan Gallardo and Rafael Avendaño’, translated by Lilit Thwaites
AAWP X UWRF EMERGING WRITERS’ PRIZE
This prize is offered in partnership with the UBUD Writers and Readers Festival, and is aimed at emerging writers of fiction or poetry. The prize includes a ticket to the UWRF, accommodation for the duration of the festival, and $500 towards economy airfares. The winner also receives one year’s membership to the AAWP, fully subsidised conference fees for the AAWP’s annual conference in November, and will be considered for publication by the editors of Meniscus! Entries should not exceed 30 lines (poetry) or 3000 words (prose).
Read the full terms of entry here.
To enter, head here.
2021 Winner: ‘Ode to Ushas: This Time Let’s Get the Dawn Right’ by Soudhamini
Judge’s Report: ‘Ode to Ushas’ styles itself as a narrative for cinematic virtual reality. It is the quirky story of a real, virtual and therefore ‘immanent’ character, Maya, made up by a virtual writer and virtually real plagiarist, Rafael. Though the narrative can be read in multiple ways, it plays on the meaning of Maya: the power by which the universe becomes manifest; the illusion of the phenomenal. Maya acts as a foil to Rafael and guides him towards truth through breaking up binaries in a dream within a dream. The narrative develops incrementally across genres and traverses borders of language, culture and reality, thereby addressing the theme of Mulat Sarira from different perspectives.
Soudhamini is a filmmaker, teacher and Fulbright scholar from India, currently doing a Practice based PhD in Cinematic VR at Deakin University, Melbourne. Thought is action, as is gesture, glance and even silence. Each of these categories are also modes of speech. This is the very grammar of classical Indian aesthetics – as well as of cinema as an audio-visual form. I have made many creative nonfiction films but have never published creative writing. For a while I even believed the image and word were antithetical registers. But the AAWP and Meniscus seem to me a uniquely enabling and inclusive space for such work.
Highly Commended: ‘Pups’ by Joshua Lee Shimmen
Judge’s Report: Told from a teenager’s point of view and in a singular voice, this story recounts how a dingo pup is rescued against the background of family drama and released into the wild. It is set in the present with flashbacks to the protagonist’s past. These are triggered by memories of what her father does to pups. It is a story of great vividness, compassion and empathy heightened by insightful characterisation and loving evocation of the setting.
Highly Commended: ‘Calcaneus’ by Elizabeth Walton
Judge’s Report: This is a sophisticated story told by Sal, a fourteen-year-old whose body image and self are out of joint by extending the calcaneus metaphor. The calcaneus, or heel bone, articulates the cuboid bone of the foot and the talus bone of the ankle and the Achilles tendon is attached to it. The narrative is pulled by this logic, evoking as it does the dysfunctional relationship between mother and daughter, their respective ambivalence as well as Sal’s moral dilemma.
- 2020 – Nina Winter: ‘Pit Stop’
- 2019 – Annabel Stafford: ‘Acid’
- 2018 – Sophie Overett: ‘Sea Wife’
- 2017 – Andrew Drummond: ‘Song of Shadows’
- 2016 – Annabel Wilson: ‘Quire’
CHAPTER ONE PRIZE
This prize is offered in partnership with University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP), and is aimed at emerging writers. If you have written a poetry collection, literary novel, short story collection, or a hybrid, genre-crossing work, then you could win a $500 cash prize, alongside fully subsidised conference fees for the AAWP’s annual conference. You will also receive a written appraisal of your work from an established literary author and a letter of recommendation to UWAP, which will see your manuscript assessed without delay (and could even lead to a publishing contract)!
Eligible emerging writers are invited to submit one chapter (or 5,000 words) from a literary novel, short story collection, or a hybrid work that crosses genre boundaries. Alternatively, they may submit up to 50 lines of poetry from a larger poetry collection.
You must be an AAWP member, and you may enter as many times as you like.
Read the full terms of entry here.
To enter, head here.
2021 Winner: Harriet and Louise by Linda Godfrey
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the difficult task of making this selection thanks to the high quality of many of the synopses and samples submitted. It is also worth noting that there were very many works that I reached the end of and was sorely disappointed that there was nothing further to read. I had been hooked by the narrative and the rhythm of the writing, as I had, of course, with the winning piece. As for the others, I dearly hope they find places and the support they also deserve.
My many thanks go to the author of the fiction, Harriet and Louise, for submitting this work for consideration. I found this submission was of excellent quality and clarity in both the writing sample and the synopsis which really did the work of setting the narrative expectations and filling the inevitable gaps that are left when only ‘chapter one’ is allowed. The supplied writing sample showed strong character development of the peripheral characters and a slow burn of development in the protagonist which might be expected when you start with someone so young. There was a good sense of how this child sees both herself and her world and there’s the interesting conflict between this and the way the adults see things. Despite being only the beginning of a much longer work, the sample was already pointing the way for the reader without being explicit about what we should expect. We are nudged and encouraged by the writing and the images presented, just as Harriet is prodded into the family tradition of climbing the fencing into the bull’s paddock and attempting to get it to charge. Encapsulated within this short excerpt and the accompanying synopsis is the reader’s understanding and identification with a child who we fear will have to face any number of charging bulls throughout her life and the course of the novel, both real and metaphorical.
Well done and thank you again for this submission.
Linda Godfrey is a writer, poet and editor, has a Masters of Professional Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. Linda was the Program Manager of the Wollongong Writers Festival 2015 to 2018. She curated Rocket Readings, readings of poetry, 2007 to 2018. She is a fiction reader for Overland, edited the online fiction edition for Overland Autumn 2018, reviews for Newtown Review of Books. She has enjoyed a Varuna Residency and an Australian Society of Authors mentorship. She has edited three award-winning books, including one Miles Franklin winner. October 2021, Linda has published a chapbook of prose poetry, Count the Ways.
Highly Commended: Waterlines by Peter Ramm
Highly Commended: Playing in the Long Grass by Katherine Mann
- 2020 – Lisa Dowdall
- 2020 – (highly commended) Anne Hotta
- 2019 – Benjamin Muir
- 2018 – Wendy Riley
- 2018 – (highly commended) Greg Woodland
- 2017 – Joshua Kemp
- 2017 – (highly commended) Melanie Pryor
- 2016 – Ruby Todd
- 2015 – Luke Johnson
AAWP/ASSF EMERGING WRITERS’ SHORT STORY PRIZE
This prize is offered in partnership with the Australian Short Story Festival, and is aimed at emerging writers across Australasia. The prize includes a ticket to the Australian Short Story Festival in 2022, as well as economy airfares and accommodation, and fully subsidised conference fees to the AAWP’s annual conference in October 2022. The winning entry will also be considered for publication in Meniscus. Entries should be no more than 3000 words, and can be in any style or genre!
Read the full terms of entry here.
To enter, head here.
2021 Winner: ‘Video Capture’ by Clare Testoni
The judges were impressed with the high standard of the submissions this year. Many stories were excellent, but the judges were ultimately unanimous in their decision to award this year’s prize to ‘Video Capture’. The winning story is a very accurate portrayal of the first lonely and foggy days for a new mother stuck in a baby world that she finds difficult to navigate. Add to this the complexity of some quite creepy movements of the baby webcam and desperate online conversations and the story ends up quite unlike any other. The judges would also like to highly commend ‘But They Sing Gloriously’, which is a beautifully inventive and unusual story, and ‘The Group Booking’, a genuinely unsettling story about women’s fear. Congratulations to all three awarded writers. We are looking forward to hosting the winner at The Australian Short Story Festival in Adelaide in November 2021.
Clare Testoni is a playwright, fiction writer, and puppeteer. Her performance practice often involves shadow puppetry and the intersection of cinema and theatre. Performed work includes Tale of Tales, The Double, The Beast and The Bride, and the children’s audio play SunRunners. Clare has trained in puppetry in Australia and Europe and recently completed an Honours in Creative Writing at The University of Western Australia. She has had short fiction published in UNSWeented and in South of The Sun: An Anthology of New Australian Fairytales. She was an artist in residence at Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in 2020.
Highly Commended: ‘But They Sing Gloriously’ by R. A. O’Brien
Highly Commended: ‘The Group Booking’ by Michelle Prak
- 2020 – ‘Cockroach’ by Jane Cornes
- 2019 – ‘Kanreki’ by Anne Hotta
- 2018 – ‘Fowler’s Bay’ by Margaret Hickey
- 2017 – ‘Paper Cranes’ by Ruth Armstrong
AAWP SC CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE
This prize was offered in partnership with Slow Canoe Live Journal (SC), and was aimed at emerging writers of creative nonfiction, whether essay, profile, memoir, article, or hybrid. The prize included a $500 cash prize and fully subsidised fees for the AAWP’s annual conference in November, as well as the opportunity to participate in—and to be considered for publication by—SC! Entries were not to exceed 3000 words.
Last run in 2020.
- 2020 – ‘An incomplete archive of blue’ by Dani Netherclift
- 2020 Highly Commended – ‘Learning to Say Goodbye the Dublin Way’ by Breda Hertaeg
- 2019 –’Marguerite Duras at the Tepid Baths’ by Anna Kate Blair
- 2019 – (Highly Commended) – ‘The Price of Perfection’ by Helena Gjone
2020 AAWP POSTGRADUATE PRIZE RESULTS
To reward postgraduate academic practice excellence, the AAWP Executive in 2020 reinstated two prizes for the best postgraduate papers presented at conference – one for a scholarly research presentation and one for a creative/hybrid research presentation. The prizes were $250 to each winner, and a bursary to attend the UK’s National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) annual conference. Our 2020 winners were:
Winner: Molly Murn (Flinders University) for Writing on Thresholds: ekphrasis, collaboration, and threshold poetics. To read the judges’ comments, click here.
Alberta Natasia Adji (Edith Cowan University) for Alternating Narration and Communal Mode in Unnatural Feminist Narrative
Elizabeth Bellamy (University of Canberra) for Escape from the Moskoe-strom: Disrupting the whirlpool of shame to restore connection
Winner: Marina Deller-Evans (Flinders University) for Strewn Scrabble Letters: exploring the writerly self and grieving self in grief memoir. To read the judge’s comments, click here.
Heather McGinn (University of South Australia) for Fractured futures, distant visions: reckoning with a dis-connective creative writing process
Kimberly K. Williams (University of Canberra) for Rising Tides, Rising Intuition: On the Necessity of Poetry Now More than Ever, A Metatextual Hybrid Essay in Four Parts
PAST AAWP POSTGRADUATE PRIZE RESULTS —THEORETICAL STREAM
To reward Postgraduate excellence in research, the AAWP Executive has in the past awarded prizes for the best scholarly Postgraduate papers presented at the AAWP annual conference.
- winner—$300 cash prize, annual subscription to Griffith Review, Overland and Review of Australian Fiction. Winner also invited to co-edit conference proceedings
- commended (up to two awarded)—$100
Eligible: Refereed stream (Academic) AAWP conference papers
Criteria: Clarity of the research question; significance of the inquiry; originality in thought and approach; appropriateness of the writing style.
Entry Fee: $20.
- 2017 – Ruth Armstrong (UTS, Sydney): ‘Paper Cranes’
- 2016 – Rachel Franks (University of Sydney): ‘Stealing stories: Punishment, profit and the Ordinary of Newgate’
- 2016 (Highly Commended) – Jason Nahrung’s (University of Queensland): ‘Stolen Futures: The Anthropocene in Australian science fiction mosaic novels’
- 2015 – Amelia Walker (University of South Australia): ‘Re-Collecting the Self as An o/Other: Creative writing research matters’
- 2015 (Highly Commended) – Caitlin Maling (Sydney University): ‘Collage and ecopoetry in Brian Teare’s Companion Grasses’
- 2014 – Lisa Smithies (Melbourne University): ‘Playing with Gaps: Cognitive Science and the Creative Writer’.
- 2014 (Highly Commended) – Shari Kocher (Melbourne University): ‘Flying into the eye of the volcano: Dickinson’s volcano imagery in Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red’.
PAST AAWP POSTGRADUATE PRIZE RESULTS —CREATIVE STREAM
To reward Postgraduate excellence in creative practice, the AAWP Executive has in the past awarded a prize for the best creative Postgraduate paper presented at the AAWP annual conference.
Prize: $300 cash prize, annual subscription to Griffith Review, Overland and Review of Australian Fiction.
Eligible: Refereed stream (Creative) AAWP conference papers
Criteria: Clarity; originality in thought and approach.
Entry fee: $20.
- 2016 – Rowena Lennox (University of Technology Sydney): ‘Coolooloi’
- 2016 (Highly Commended) – Caitlin Malling (University of Sydney): ‘Spending a Month with William Stafford in Oregon’
- 2015 – Amelia Walker (University of South Australia): ‘“I” has to give: Rethinking Bloom’s apophrades and/as ghostly Derridean gifts’