Competition Results 2009
Last updated 04/10/2011
2009 Christmas Competitions for Members only
Back to Competition Results Page 1
1st Prize: Janet Howie for her poem Gardenia
1st Prize Paula Wilson: Fire Panther
The judge was Errol Broome.
Article or Short Story
1st Prize : Paula Wilson for Burnt Chook
Christmas Competition 2009 Judge’s Reports
It is often useful to understand how a judge evaluates our writing work in competitions, and this year, our Christmas Competition Judges for 2009 have kindly allowed us to publish their reports on last year’s winning entries.
Short Story Section
Winner: Burnt Chook, entry number 7
This is a well-observed look at family relationships, using Christmas as the scene to bring out tensions, humiliations and ultimately, the emotional resilience of the narrator. A moving story.
Second: Laneways to the Past, entry number 8
This is a memorable nonfiction piece about the history of Melbourne's laneways. Well-written and delightful.
Third: Cookery Class 2A 1957, entry number 4.
This piece took me back to my own schoolroom cooking class! It successfully evoked its period and the tensions between the teacher and students.
Many of these entries struck a chord with me - and in the end, that is what we look for when we read, even judges. I found it a hard task to choose amongst many fine submissions, and found myself rereading some as I wrote this report. I'm only sorry that any competition has a limited number of places to be awarded.
Victorian Mentoring Service for Writers
I must say how pleased I was to be asked to judge this competition. It is indeed a privilege to read the work of Society members.
The entries covered a range of topics and concerns: travel experiences, social comment and several poems spring from meditation on an object, event or a person, thought to have some significance. And reading some entries I was reminded of Les Murray’s comment: ‘Remember poetry is an art, not a confessional.’
I’d like to say too that the demands of form can work against the substance of the poem; for example the use of rhyme in a poem which deals with a tragic event. Here, rhyme can undermine the serious content. And rhyme does not, of itself, change prose into verse; the poet must think constantly about metre, rhythm and effective line-breaks. A successful rhyming poem is one that is read first and then the reader becomes aware of the effortless employment of rhyme – subtle and all the more satisfying for that.
A good indication of a poem’s impact is of course whether or not it lingers in your mind long after first reading it. Perhaps it is because the imagery serves the content and is not there just for itself - a verbal flourish, as it were. Or it might be the humour which carries the poem along, making it a pleasure to read. I certainly enjoyed going through all the poems several times before deciding on a short-list. Now for the results.
1st Place: This went to a poem bearing the evocative title: ‘Gardenia’; just one word which brings to mind its fragrant waxy blooms. The story of this plant unfolds much as the petals of the long-awaited bloom do in the final stanza. The sequence of events is simply but effectively told and the significance of ‘Last Advent, one white petal appeared …’ reminds us of the ‘miracle’ referred to in the third line of this poem. A less skilled poet might not have such a subtle touch.
2nd Place: This was awarded to a quite different poem entitled ‘a thousand poets … one language.’ From the first few words the reader is plunged into another world; the desert air is laden with the cries of cameleers ‘salaam, alekoum! Ahlan!’ And on the poem rolls, gathering momentum with each exotic detail, each image offered of this sandy, dusty place. And from here we are transported to a ‘tented rugged cosy oasis / veiled dancers twirl shimmy / we drink lemon dark coffee / nibble falafels tasty baba ganouch …’
This is a travel experience told poetically and with great economy; however, I wanted the poem to end with ‘this velvet dark eve.’ The final two lines are comment. The poem has already done its work and needs no more said. Others may disagree but I offer this thought for what it’s worth.
Highly Commended: This poem engaged me at first reading and although it is not as poetic as the previous two poems, ‘Cars Of Our Lives’ succeeds in other ways. There is humour along the journey which recalls cars owned over the years; we learn about the various shortcomings of these vehicles, and the lives of people linked with them.
Judging has been an interesting and absorbing task and I thank all entrants for sharing their work with me.
Story For A Child
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your stories. I enjoyed each and every story, and thanks to the entrants for such well-presented manuscripts. This was a great help to me.
Every story could be better than it is. Most had an idea, but didn’t think through the plot. In a short story for children, there must be a clear storyline – hero wants something, or feels something, or has a problem, however small. We read on to see if he/she will achieve this. A bit more thinking/planning could buck up these stories and even make them publishable. In some there was too much explaining, and unuseful words cluttering up the action. Occasionally, the tone jarred. The narrator intruding in a casual, breezy manner can not only interrupt the flow, but irritate the reader, and in some cases change the viewpoint. As a rule, unless it’s strictly first person, I would say, Keep out, let the characters get on with it.
I’d like to say here that, although I gave no commendations, Finding Clive has the potential to be a most touching story. And You Can Lead a Horse to Water – apart from the clever title – should be mentioned for its sub–plot, which I felt could be further developed.
The clear winner is Fire Panther, an effectively simple story of a boy and a panther, told objectively and unemotionally, achieving its impact by this very objectivity. The sentences are short and sharp, building up tension. We don’t know the boy, yet we want to know what will happen to him. The ending, too, is satisfying; a resolution that makes us smile. After all that! Congratulations to the author of Fire Panther, and all the writers. I hope you’ll all continue to write.
2009 SWWV Biennial Literary Awards
1st Elizabeth M. Thompson (Vic.)
For: ‘A Brief History of The Picnic’
Commended: Tasma Wischer (Vic.)
For: ‘The Innocent Side’
Back to the top of 2009
1st Karen Turner (Vic.)
For: ‘Kay’s Café’
2nd Maggie Veness (N.S.W)
For: ‘Secrets from People’
Clare Fernando (N.S.W) For:
‘Teaching Them a Lesson, Freud-Style’
Maggie Veness (N.S.W)
For: ‘Gallop Away’
Karen Turner (Vic.)
For: ‘The Last Goodbye’
1st Joy Hooton (N.S.W)
For: ‘His and Hers’
2nd Marlene Marburg (Vic.)
For: ‘Hot Air Platoon’
Dominique Hecq (Vic.)
Lorraine McGuigan (Vic.)
For: ‘Turning back the clock’
Eileen Marshall (N.S.W)
For: ‘My Feckless Lover’
Marlene Marburg (Vic.)