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Winner announced for the 2024 Local Word Writing Prize

Geelong Regional Libraries together with Deakin University are pleased to announce the winner of the 2024 Local Word Writing Prize. 

The overall winner of this year’s Local Word Writing Prize is Carolyn Leach-Paholski from Box Hill, Melbourne, with her entry Hokusai in the Antipodes - Thirty-Six Love Letters to a Mountain. Carolyn receives a $2000 prize plus a one-hour mentoring session with a Deakin University writing practitioner, publication on GRLC’s website and an announcement in GRLC’s e-newsletter.

The Local Word Writing Prize was established in 2022 and draws entries from all over the country. The judging panel was comprised of Professor David McCooey Personal Chair of the Faculty of Arts and Education in the School of Communication & Creative Arts at Deakin University; Geelong Regional Libraries’ CEO Vanessa Schernickau, and Geelong Regional Libraries’ Virtual Writer in Residence, Alice Eaves. 

There were 536 entries, which were narrowed down to a longlist of 24, and a shortlist of four. All works were judged anonymously.

• WINNER: Hokusai in the Antipodes - Thirty-Six Love Letters to a Mountain - Carolyn Leach-Paholski, Box Hill, Melbourne
The Air Gap - Penne Thornton, North Geelong, Vic
Bird Found - Leticia Parish, Caulfield, Melbourne
Premiership Quarter - Hannah Duffus, Warrnambool, Vic

Special mentions go to the three runners-up for their Highly Commended entries. They will receive a prize of $250, publication on GRLC’s website and an announcement in GRLC’s e-newsletter.

Judge David McCooey said “Deakin University is once again proud to be associated with the Local Word Writing Prize. This year's submissions brought together an extraordinary range of stories and styles. Many works dealt with the crises of everyday life, as well as shared crises (such as the climate emergency), while others celebrated the pleasures that life has to offer.”

“The four shortlisted works are compelling instances of contemporary writing. The Air Gap is a moving work of creative nonfiction that deals with illness, mortality, and real and imagined flight. Hokusai in the Antipodes is a beautifully realised short story that brings together apparently disjunct things - the past and the present, Eastern and Western sensibilities - with powerful lyricism. Bird Found and Premiership Quarter, though stylistically very different, both show how prose fiction can offer powerful, sometimes comic, insights into our emotional worlds,” David continued.

Judge GRLC’s Virtual Writer in Residence, Alice Eaves said "Being invited to assist in the judging of the Local Word competition has been a real highlight of this residency. Many of the pieces I had the opportunity to read gave me exciting insights into a multitude of cultures, attitudes and landscapes, both real and imagined. I hope all entrants are encouraged to keep writing and developing with the knowledge that their work filled with wit, vulnerability, and precision was a joy to read on cold evenings here in Scotland."

Geelong Regional Libraries’ CEO Vanessa Shernickau said “We were overwhelmed by not only the number of entries this year but by the standard of writing. We’re very proud of our Local Word Writing Prize for the sense of community it provides for writers and thank you to Deakin University for their continued support. Thanks also to our judges and all the entrants, both local and from further afield. We hope to see their works on our shelves in the future – and a huge congratulations to this year’s overall winner, Carolyn Leach-Paholski.”

Entries for this year’s Local Word Poetry Prize open on Monday 1 April and will close on Monday 1 July.

For more information go to: Local Word Writing Prize.

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