Prizes

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 prizes@aawp.org.au


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.

Read the full terms of entry here.


2022 Winner: ‘Doors’ by Suzanne Hermanoczki

Author Bio:
Suzanne Hermanoczki is a writer and teacher of creative writing. Her writings on place, identity, trauma, and immigrants, have been published locally and internationally. She first began studying writing while living and working in Hong Kong. She holds a PhD and Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Melbourne.

Judges’ Report:
‘Doors’ is an associative work told mostly in the second person, and through a layering of text and image. The essay is powerfully written, feels both timely and prescient given its ruminations on Soviet occupation, and is strangely chilling too—thanks, perhaps, to the questions it asks of history, memory, and representation. Like the various mise-en-abymes it references and works through, the experience of reading it offers at once a narrowing and a widening; a filtering and an opening. We were thrilled when we first came across it in the submissions pool, and found it growing, and growing again, as we came back to it. The author is to be commended for their technical felicity and storytelling acumen, as well as for their ability to hold the gaze of the reader. Often mercilessly. The consideration of authors such as Szabo and Bachelard adds critical depth too, and helps to build an intricacy which tips, on occasion, into paranoia. This kind of complication is what held us, and what helped us choose ‘Doors’ from a thick and brilliant catalogue of entries. It is an intelligent and masterful consideration of portals, vision, and closings and openings.

We would like to thank all those writers who shared their work with us, and wish them best of luck in their future endeavours. Special mention must go to the author of ‘Avatar’, which was our second-place choice, alongside the highly commended works ‘Herinnering’ and ‘Dresses, heavy with water’. There was so much variety in this year’s entries, and so much beauty, which made the choosing of a winner exceptionally difficult. Thank you, too, to the AAWP for partnering with Westerly in offering this prize.



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.


Read the full terms of entry here.


2022 Winner: ‘Hereditary’ by Jeimer Ng

Judges’ Report:
This piece of writing is our winner because of the massive punch of the story in so few words – 79 in total. It is beautifully crafted; succinctly and elegantly written. It is audacious in its message of medical defiance, set against the context of the love, and loving heart, of a mother.

Author Bio:
Jeimer Ng is just a guy who has always valued, more than anything, the utility of the flash medium to express that which he could not otherwise voice. And there happens to be a lot of it.


Highly Commended: ‘Before it was white’ by Isabelle Biondi Saville

Judges’ Report:
We highly commend this piece for its poignant stream of consciousness about water, love and loss, which is illustrated with evocative imagery and playful language: ‘She kisses my eyelids and whispers her murmury song of water in my ears.’ It transported us into a world of liquid and memory, entwining experimentalism with lyrical poetry.


Past Winners:

  • 2021 – ‘Crack’ by Zoe Davidson – Read the 2021 winning entry on the Express Media website, here.
  • 2021 Highly Commended – ‘Everyday Supernovae’ by Jeimer Ng
  • 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


2022 Winner: ‘Great Sertão: Meanderings’ by Alison Entrekin

Judge’s Report:
Great Sertão: Meanderings is a gift. João Guimarães Rosa’s novel Grande Sertão survives to the extent that it is received; the original text is able to have a new life, a different life. Translator and writer have, as always, through the text, through their different ways of belonging to it, an uncanny means of knowing each other. Theirs is an intimate affair. In many ways, Great Sertão is a labour of love. Those who give gifts to strangers must have some kind of fervour to keep them on task. Reading the excerpt entered in this competition, I felt this fervour through the scholarship and creative energy the translator invested in the task. It was a gift to me as reader. The experience was exhilarating.

The excerpt submitted is from the opening of the novel and reads like a prose poem with a strong rhythmic pattern. Like Finnegans Wake it is made of an ongoing flow of words and sounds. In reading the excerpt aloud I enjoyed its pronounced cadence, inventiveness and playfulness. Its orality and music, but also the images conjured up by the text.

The gaze of the reader roves up, moving towards the sky in an unhurried rhythm of looking and looking again. The few man-made objects are located and their calculated position contrasted to the power and unpredictability of the weather and the sky; an interplay between natural and man-made, perfect and imperfect. But, oh, the birds! Consider this paragraph. Read it aloud:

So pleasant. Crystal waters, springs, shade and sun. Black-Ox Farm, belonged to an Eleutério Lopes — ways afore the Blue Field, on the way to the Scorched Desert. That was in February or January, in the time of the corn bloom. Moreso: what with the silver-tipped country-captain, which thrives in the cerrado; anise adorning its thickets; and the deianiras with tiny flowers. That marmalade grass thicks in fast, redoubling no sooner it sprouts, so sea-green, child of the slightest drizzle. From any cloth of woodland, from nigh-all two-leaves-touching, every colour of butterflies would spiral out. As you’ve never seen, here you see it. Cause in the gerais, the same breed of butterfly, which in other parts is trivial ordinary — here gets bigger, and brighter, you know; I say it’s the dryness of the air, the clear, this huge light. Long the banks of the Urucúia’s headsprings, there the handsome-beauty sings highly. And there was the whistling duck that chichirruped in the first sunblush of morn, the swamp sprite, the loopy-loo, the wee-saw, the striped cuckoo, the cow dove… and the you-I-see kiskadee, and raucous macaws. It was nice to hear the mer of the cows owing their milk. But, little sun-gem in the de-veil of dawn, for every glum thought your mind throws up, he asks again and fakes the answer. Then, in the afternoon, the flycatcher would tumbledive, in high low come go, peck-pecking from mid-flight every wee-winged critter; clever bird. It was going to rain late later. Dusk that fills the trees with cicadas — then, it doesn’t rain. Whistles that closed the day: the bananaquit, the blue grosbeak, the marsh wren, the kingbird, the rusty-thrush, the coconut finch… I was the whole time almost with Diadorim. The only English translation of João Guimarães Rosa’s novel Grande Sertão being long out of print, the next gift this translation will no doubt offer is to literature and scholarship. Many thanks to its author.

Author Bio:
Alison Entrekin is an Australian literary translator from the Portuguese, translating mostly Brazilian writers into English. In 2019 she was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Translation Prize and PEN medallion for her body of work and she has been a finalist in the PEN America Translation Prize, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, among others. She is currently working on her most ambitious project yet, a new translation of Guimarães Rosa’s Grande Sertão: Veredas, of which this piece is an excerpt, with support from Itaú Cultural and the Australia Council.

Past Winners:

  • 2021 – ‘White Moss’ by Irina Sadovina
  • 2021 Highly Commended – ‘Dante: The Faery and the Wizard’ by Alberta Adji
  • 2021 Highly Commended – ‘Collecting Butterflies’ by Kevin Windle
  • 2020 – ‘423 Colours- excerpts from the Spanish novel 423 colores by Juan Gallardo and Rafael Avendaño’, translated by Lilit Thwaites

 
AAWP/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


2022 Winner: ‘This is just to say’ by Karen McKnight

Judge’s Report:
This is just to say plays tricks with both time and genre and shows love cocking a snook at despair. It is a heart-stopping internal monologue of interleaving vignettes focused on a mother’s struggle to come to terms with her daughter’s self-harm. It is also an account of human suffering at the hands of the health system and a critique of patriarchy. The narrative dissects the mother’s feelings of inadequacy, distress, ambivalence, endurance and compassion with a ruthlessness mitigated by humour. What is both engaging and disturbing about this story is that any parent could find themselves in the narrator’s shoes and any teenager sensing that they have become a spectator of their own life in the daughter’s shoes. The author’s talent is evident in each scene, sentence, silence. The writing is precise and to the point. It conveys events, interactions, relationships and, indeed, ideas so flawlessly that it feels effortless. The author’s gift resides in their ability to present the reader with images that take you there to where the characters live, hurt and love, making you part of their life. In this year when uncertainty and darkness reign, This is just to say resonates.

Many thanks and congratulations to the author.

Author Bio:
Karen McKnight is a Melbourne-based writer with work published in Vandal Press, Modern Writing, Visible Ink, Nocturnal Submissions, Vehicle, The Big Issue, Cosmopolitan and Penguin’s Hot Sand. Her performance troupe, Discourse of Handbags performed at venues in and around Melbourne including La Mama Theatre and Theatreworks. In 2003 she was the Literature Coordinator at The Art of Difference Festival – celebrating mixed ability within the arts, the Inaugural Writer in Residence at Overland Literary Journal in 2016 and won the Grace Marion Wilson Prize for non-fiction in 2019. She is currently Writer in Residence at Windana Drug & Alcohol Recovery.

Past Winners:

  • 2021 – Soudhamini: ‘Ode to Ushas: This Time Let’s Get the Dawn Right’
  • 2021 Highly Commended – Joshua Lee Shimmen: ‘Pups’
  • 2021 Highly Commended – Elizabeth Walton: ‘Calcaneus’
  • 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.

2022 Winner: Ordinariness by Gillian Hagenus

Judge’s Report:

Coming soon.

Author Bio:
Gillian Hagenus is a writer, editor, and researcher living and working on Kaurna land in South Australia. She is a current Masters candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide where she specialises in Australian Suburban Gothic fiction. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary journals across Australia and overseas. In 2021 she was a part of the organising committee for the Australian Short Story Festival, and in 2022 she was shortlisted for the inaugural Djillong Short Story Writing Competition and longlisted for the Peter Carey Short Story Award. She works part time as a freelance fiction editor.

Past Winners:

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.

2021 Winner: ‘Video Capture’ by Clare Testoni

Judges’ Report:
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.

Author Bio:
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

Past Winners:

  • 2021 – ‘Video Capture’ by Clare Testoni
  • 2021 Highly Commended – ‘But They Sing Gloriously’ by R. A. O’Brien
  • 2021 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  

PAST PRIZES

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.

Past Winners:

  • 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:

Theoretical Stream:

Winner: Molly Murn (Flinders University) for Writing on Thresholds: ekphrasis, collaboration, and threshold poetics. To read the judges’ comments, click here.

Highly Commended:

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

Creative/Hybrid Stream:

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.

Highly Commended:

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.

Prizes:

  • 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. 

Past Winners:

  • 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.

Past Winners:

  • 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’

Any questions about our prizes? Email prizes@aawp.org.au