Tag Archives: poetry

Writers set sights on the Nillumbik Prize

ENTRIES ARE open for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing.
Now is the time to start writing those unwritten short stories and poems.
Nillumbik Council has announced that entries for the 2022 Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing (NPCW) are now open, and on top of the glory of winning the prestigious award, there is $18,000 available in prizes.
The NPCW is awarded every two years and builds on the Shire’s strong tradition of supporting contemporary Australian writing.
In 2022 prizes will be awarded for:

  • Best short stories — with open, local and youth categories
  • Best poems — also with open, local and youth categories

In addition, there will also be a Mayor’s Award.
The prestigious Alan Marshall Short Story Award will be awarded to the open winner in the short story category.
The Alan Marshall Short Story Award has been an important fixture on the Australian literary calendar since 1985 and celebrates one of the giants of the local literary scene.
And speaking of prestigious, the judges for this year’s awards have also been announced with some high calibre names on the judging panel:

Judges

Alan Marshall Short Story Prize:

Tim Richards is a Melbourne- based writer, script consultant and screenwriting teacher.
He is the author of three story collections.
His latest book is Approximate Life: The Prince and Other Stories

Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and academic.
She has written fiction and non- fiction for a number of publications including Westerly, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction and the Shuffle anthology.

Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing – Poetry:

Cassandra Atherton is an international expert on the prose poetry form and an award-winning prose poet.
Cassandra has authored and edited over 30 critical and creative books and has been invited to edit 12 special editions of leading refereed journals.

Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl; Ghost River, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing; and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.
In 2021, Tony will publish two new books; a poetry collection Whisper Songs, and a new book of short stories Dark As Last Night

Its 17th year

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said the Australian renowned and highly regarded prize is now into its 17th year.

“This prestigious award showcases excellence in contemporary writing and celebrates Nillumbik’s culturally rich artistic community.
“Council is proudly a strong supporter of all art forms, support that is especially important as we continue to mitigate the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cr Perkins said.

The best writing in local, open, youth and poetry categories from the Nillumbik Prize will be published in an anthology and celebrated at a special event next year.

Entries close Sunday, November 7. For more information and to enter visit nillumbik.vic.gov.au/NPCW

Warrandyte’s word wizards

THE Grand Read may not have been going for as long, but this literary event has long been the cherry on top of the fabulous cake that is the Warrandyte Festival.

Grand Read regular Jock Macneish gave a warm introduction, setting the tone for an intimate evening in the packed-out function room of the Grand Hotel.

This year’s featured writer was Arnold Zable.

He is an advocate for human rights and a lot of his work focuses on the experience of immigrants.

He has many literary accolades to his name, including: People’s Choice Award: Tasmanian Pacific Fiction Prize for his novel Cafe Scheherazade (2003), nomination for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Sea of Many Returns (2010), and Life membership to Writers Victoria (2015).

Arnold Zable writes about refugees and the plight of the human condition, he describes his writing as a “beacon of hope for those displaced, disconnected, and disorientated”.

He described his writing as “painting with words” and before every passage read he would ask the audience of close to 100 if we could “see it”.

Zable chose to read from his latest book The Fighter: A True Story.

He writes about the life of Henry Nissen, an immigrant from Germany who settled in the working class suburbs of Melbourne and represented Australia as a flyweight boxer in the 1960s and 1970s.

Zable’s words recreate the harsh world that Nissen grew up in, but he spun his prose poetically and the audience hung on every word.

The Fighter: A True Story has been shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction.

The Grand Read frequently favours poetry over prose, as the shorter form fits well with the evening’s format.

Following Arnold Zable’s poetically woven words were a series of enjoyable poems from a variety of artists.

John Jenkins read extracts from his poem The Wine Harvest, a poem that reflects on a time, in 1999, when he worked as a labourer on the wineries of the Yarra Valley.

His poem displayed some wonderful allegoric qualities as he recounted the hard life of a labourer through wine tasting terminology.

Karen Throssell, who has published a number of poetry books including Chain of Hearts, and The Old Kings and Other Poems, and who currently teaches Creative Writing classes in Diamond Creek, took the evening along a path of politics with a whimsical poem exploring her observations of Donald Trump’s youngest child during Trump’s victory party following the 2016 US presidential election.

Andrew Kennon reflected on his experiences in the High Country.

Sandy Jeffs, originally from Ballarat, is a poet who writes about her experiences living with schizophrenia.

She is an advocate for living with mental illness and author of the best-selling book Poems from the Madhouse.

For the Grand Read, Jeffs read a couple of poems: Cold Chemical Comfort illustrated the numbing effects of modern day drugs, while her poem about celebrity and the fascination with it that popular culture demands, was sobering but refreshingly chemical.

Kevin Bonnett, author of De-icing the wings, read from his poem Lake Louise as well as a series of responses to photographs.

Laurie Webb is a bush poet who spends a lot of time working with local communities in Africa.

He read from his latest poem Gratitude Journal which is based on his experience with PTSD after being involved in a car crash in the Congo.

The evening also featured a reading from Warrandyte’s own Jock Macneish, whom recounted a trip he made some years ago to Scotland, where he went on a journey to find George Orwell’s lost motorcycle.

You can read his story in the travel section of this month’s Diary.

The evening was a wonderful finish to the festival and the poetry and prose on show was stimulating and inspiring.

If you have never been to the Grand Read before, then make sure you come along next year, I certainly cannot wait to see who they will have on show in 2018.

On the write side of the road

Cherie Moselen talks to two local poets about shared geography and an award that puts them both on a prestigious literary map.

WHAT are the odds that two Warrandyte poets who live on the same road would win the same major poetry award, one after the other?

Somewhat doubtful, given the Melbourne Poets Union (MPU) International Poetry Competition annually sees 300-400 poems narrowed to a shortlist of a dozen or less.

Chance is a fine thing, but artistic skill is most likely the reason residents John Jenkins and Carmel Macdonald-Grahame are hot property as the 2013 and 2014 winners of this high profile competition*.

It’s a good thing I manage to interview them together as neither are the type to toss accolades on their own literary bonfires.

Carmel is glowing about rising stars like Eltham writer Lisa Jacobsen, who has been published in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, the UK and the United States. (One of Warrandyte’s treasured Grand Read performers, Lisa also won the Adelaide Festival John Bray Poetry Award last year and was shortlisted in four other national awards.)

However, she makes no mention of having two poems recently longlisted in this year’s fiercely contested Ron Pretty Award.

“It’s a remarkable achievement on the back of the 2014 MPU win and recent publication of her first novel by University of Western Australia Press,” John Jenkins says, filling me in on Carmel’s successes, but waving away any attempt I make to talk about his own as an award-winning poet and celebrated writer of over 20 books published in various genres.

There are more than a few literary triumphs between the two, and while both allow awards establish credibility and garner peer recognition, their value to each seems to lie in the confidence they generate: that the work was on the right track.

“Sometimes I revisit old writing that I’ve abandoned and resuscitate it, because I feel there is still something vital there and a particular competition might be a likely place for airing it,” says Carmel. “It gives me an endpoint and makes me finish the unfinished work, which is a reward in itself. It’s an added bonus if it wins.”

John agrees: “I often persist with a piece of writing, drafting and redrafting, and the formal appreciation means the extra work was worth it. It validates the process – I’ve sent it off to a competition and the judge liked it, the piece is finished and it’s as good as it can be.”

However, Carmel says she is “chuffed” about winning this particular award.

“Part of the pleasure with the MPU prize was being able to follow in John’s footsteps a little, as we’ve occasionally worked on poetry together. Also, the Melbourne Poets Union is a special point of connection for me,” she says.

“When I moved to Victoria seven years ago, it was through this ‘union of poets’ that I found out what was going on in Melbourne for writers.”

“Of course, now I have an abundance of artistic connections virtually at my doorstep, many of whom come together from time to time at the Grand Read.”

Her mention of The Grand Read – a Warrandyte Festival event, in its 18th year – launches John onto a topic he is happy to talk about and is clearly fond of.

“We have a wealth of literary talent in our shire, an embarrassment of riches really, and Warrandyte is lucky to have a fantastic annual event in which to celebrate some of them.”

“There’s lot’s of lovely food, and drinks at the bar, which gives The Grand Read an enjoyable and festive buzz,” he says.

“Every year there are special guests, some with international reputations, so the literary quality of the work is very fine. But there’s never anything stiff or stodgy about it. MC Jock Macneish sets exactly the right tone and the readers are great performers of their own work, so there’s a dimension of entertainment.”

He adds: “Diary readers, certainly anyone interested in writing, should come along and be prepared to be surprised and delighted by a great night out.”

Both Carmel (as an organiser of the event) and John will be appearing at Warrandyte’s Grand Read, upstairs at The Grand Hotel at 7.30pm on Tuesday March 24.

For more information about the event, contact Warrandyte Neighbourhood House on 9844 1839 or email info@warrandyteneighbourhoodhouse.org.au

*John’s 2013 MPU winning poem is titled When he read the poem in the room above the stairs. Carmel’s 2014 MPU winning poem is titled Wreck.