2018 Queensland Literary Awards Shortlists

Queensland Premier's Award for a work of State Significance
Queensland Premier's Young Publishers and Writers Awards
The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award
The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award
Griffith University Children’s Book Award
Griffith University Young Adult Book Award
University of Southern Queensland History Book Award
University of Southern Queensland Short Story Collection—Steele Rudd Award
QUT Digital Literature Award
Unpublished Indigenous Writer—David Unaipon Award
Emerging Queensland Writer—Manuscript Award
State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection—Judith Wright Calanthe Award
The Courier Mail People's Choice Queensland Book of the Year

Queensland Premier's Award for a Work of State Significance

Saltwater Story

The Saltwater Story

by Benjamin Allmon (author) and David Kelly (photographer)

Cairn Tor Books

About the book

70km, 3 days, 2 canoes, one unforgettable adventure ... Gold Coast author Benjamin Allmon, Bundjalung-Yugambeh canoemaker Kyle Slabb, and the Indigenous community have collaborated with renowned photographer David Kelly to document their epic 70km three-day sea journey following an ancient maritime trade route in traditional canoes for the first time in over a century. The Saltwater Story is the result: a story of collaboration, co-operation, and connection between Saltwater People, between generations, between black and white. It is also a story of continuance—of ancient knowledge now held by just a few who are ensuring that tomorrow’s elders are brought along for the journey today.

About the author

Benjamin Allmon is an author, freelance journalist, film producer, adventurer, audio engineer and musician of over twenty years. His book, Foot Notes (Odyssey Books, 2016), chronicles his 51-day trek along the East Coast to promote his debut album as a modern-day troubadour. His other books include Mr Ordinary Dons a Disguise, Lyricbuster, and The Saltwater Story (as well as producing the accompanying documentary). He writes for national and international publications, and has released two albums. He has one wife, one son, and two left feet.

About the photographer

David Kelly is a multi-Walkley-nominated photographer, and winner of the Clarion Award for best Photo-Essay, News, Sport and Multicultural work. One of the original photographers for the Courier Mail Qweekend Magazine (2005–2017), he has also worked with Queensland Ballet for the past 20 years, producing From the Wings, a book on their production of Swan Lake. He co-produced Love Stories, a documentary about homeless love, and a book, Detours (Stories From the Street). He has travelled extensively throughout Australia, the Pacific, and Asia on assignment, and immersed himself in the culture and stories of Indigenous Australia, a world he has entered with care, respect, and a soft footprint.

Judges' comments

The judges were impressed with the fantastic precept for this story: the reclamation of the endangered indigenous art of canoe-making and an ancient maritime journey made by modern men. The story is told with great respect for the holders of the indigenous knowledges and is a tale of hope for reconceptualising the way we all understand our relationships with each other and with the Queensland landscape.

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Please Explain

Please Explain

by Anna Broinowski

Penguin Random House

About the book

Before One Nation’s astonishingly successful return to Australian politics in 2016, multi-award-winning filmmaker Anna Broinowski had complete access to Hanson and her ‘Fed Up’ election campaign. The absurdity, the discord and the hatred Hanson attracts and inflames were all on show—sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, and often surreal. Please Explain is a compelling, intimate look at how an Ipswich fish and chip shop lady changed our nation—and how (whether we like it or not) she speaks directly to Australian society and our multicultural identity today.

About the author

Anna Broinowski is an author and filmmaker who has been tracking the illicit, subversive and bizarre since her 1995 film on the Japanese cultural underground, Hell Bento!! Her films include Aim High in Creation! (about the North Korean propaganda film industry), Forbidden Lie$ (about hoax author Norma Khouri), Helen’s War (about anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott), Sexing the Label (about queer Sydney in the 1990s), and Pauline Hanson: Please Explain!, which screened on SBS in 2016.

Judges' comments

Anna Broinowski follows Pauline Hanson’s trajectory from an Ipswich fish and chip shop lady to the political force she has become today. Broinowski followed Hanson for 12 months, and in this book charts her early life as one of seven children to winning a seat in federal Parliament then facing jail for 11 weeks accused of electoral fraud. Now, as Hanson again wields influence on Australia’s political life, Broinowski examines the Hanson phenomenon and the way she has made public racism acceptable within parts of Australian culture.

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White Woman Black Heart

White Woman Black Heart: Journey Home to Old Mapoon

by Barbara Miller

CreateSpace

About the book

Barbara often found herself saying, “the stork dropped me at the wrong house’ discovering she was repeating her mother’s words. Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum, told her, 'you may be white but you have a black heart, as you understand my people and feel our heart'. The Mapoon Aborigines were forcibly moved off their land by the Queensland government in 1963 for mining. Their houses, school, health clinic, store and church were burnt to the ground so they wouldn’t return. In helping the courageous Mapoon people return in 1974, despite opposition, Barbara found her home as part of an Aboriginal family.

About the author

Barbara has worked at the coalface of Indigenous affairs in Australia from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy demonstrations in Canberra (1972), to co-founding the North Queensland Land Council (1977), to being CEO of the Aboriginal Co-ordinating Council (1990s) and much more. She is a psychologist and sociologist and her writing focuses on Australian history. She wrote the biography of Aboriginal William Cooper—William Cooper Gentle Warrior: Standing Up for Australian Aborigines and Persecuted Jews (2012), The European Quest to Find Terra Australis Incognita: Quiros, Torres and Janszoon (2014), and The Dying Days of Segregation in Australia: Case Study Yarrabah (2018).

Judges' comments

This memoir recounts Barbara Miller’s involvement with the aboriginal people of Mapoon on Cape York where the community was forcibly removed from their lands by the Queensland Government in 1963. The story is a first-hand account of their heartbreaking departure and then triumphant return to their lands 11 years later, aided by Barbara and her friends. Barbara recounts that she was inspired to campaign for the Mapoon people by a meeting with Aboriginal elder, Burnum Burnum, who told her, ‘you may be a white woman but you have a black heart’, and in this book describes not only the Mapoon community’s decade-long struggle but her own homecoming in finding her place in a loving aboriginal family.

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We'll Show the World: Expo 88

We'll Show the World: Expo 88

by Jackie Ryan

UQP

About the book

World Expo 88 was the largest, longest, and loudest of Australia’s bicentennial events. A shiny 1980s amalgam of cultural precinct, shopping mall, theme park, travelogue, and rock concert, Expo 88 is commonly credited as the catalyst for Brisbane’s ‘coming of age’. So how did an elaborate and expensive party change a city forever? We’ll Show the World explores the shifting social and political environment of Expo 88, shaped as much by Queensland’s controversial premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen as it was by those who reacted against him. It shows how something initially greeted with outrage, scepticism, and indifference came to mean so much to so many, how a state better known for eliciting insults enchanted much of the nation, and how, to Brisbane, Expo was personal.

About the author

Jackie Ryan holds a PhD in history and political science from The University of Queensland, where she was an Honorary Research Fellow. She wrote the didactic text for the Museum of Brisbane’s ‘Light Fantastic’ exhibition on Expo 88 in 2013, and has devised audiovisual material on Expo for the Southbank Corporation and the Queensland Museum. She produces the Aurealis Award-winning Burger Force comic series and founded comedy writing collective the Fanciful Fiction Auxiliary; the websites for both of these projects have been archived by the National Library of Australia as sites of cultural significance. Jackie is the programs manager at the Queensland Writers Centre. She still has her Expo season pass.

Judges' comments

Jackie Ryan provides the definitive account of World Expo 88. Meticulously researched, this book describes the ‘behind the scenes’ political manoeuvring leading up to the event, and the challenges in ensuring that the Expo site on the south bank of the Brisbane River was retained as a public space for future generations. We’ll Show the World captures the ways in which Expo contributed to Queensland’s evolution from an inward-looking state to one that embraced a more cosmopolitan sense of itself.

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Brisbane Houses with Gardens

Brisbane Houses with Gardens

by Beth Wilson

Beth Wilson

About the book

For decades now, Beth Wilson has been collecting material for her book Brisbane Houses with Gardens ... an unprecedented history of the Brisbane domestic landscape from pre-1823 to the present day. Drawing on her extraordinary knowledge of horticulture, her 50 years’ experience as a landscape architect working on some of Brisbane’s leading projects, a lifetime’s interest in historic gardens, and the extensive 120-year-old archives of Wilson Architects, Beth has brought together a fascinating and revealing history of the city through the evolution of its homes and gardens.

About the author

Beth Wilson, the author of Brisbane Houses With Gardens, has worked as a landscape architect for almost 50 years on projects such as the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, Queen Street Mall, the Suncorp Stadium, Cathedral Square, and countless private gardens. She was the first landscape architect to be awarded an honorary fellowship for the Australian Institute of Architects, Queensland chapter, cited for her 'depth of understanding of history and place making, her unrivalled knowledge of plants and vegetation and her ability to read a site ... and for pioneering landscape as part of interior architecture'.

Judges' comments

This survey of Brisbane’s domestic architecture and gardens charmed the judges with its loving and detailed account of the city’s origins, anxieties and dreams as expressed through the built environment. It will provide a valuable resource for researchers while, for the casual reader, provides a rich and pleasurable journey into the past.

Queensland Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award

Anna Jacobson

Anna Jacobson

Anna Jacobson is a Brisbane-based poet, writer, and artist. In 2018 Anna won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize for her unpublished manuscript, which will be published by UQP in 2019. Anna’s poetry chapbook The Last Postman (Vagabond Press 2018) is part of deciBels series 3. Her work has been published in literary journals including ABR’s States of Poetry Queensland, CorditeMeanjin, Rabbit, and Verity La. Anna was shortlisted in the Queensland Literary Awards for the 2017 Emerging Queensland Writer Manuscript Award and the 2016 and 2017 Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award.

Judges' comments:

Anna’s interdisciplinary work and bold collage poetry show she is a writer who takes risks, which often pay off. Anna is also one of the emerging writers helping to forge a distinct Queensland voice which holds cultural diversity, respect, and a shamelessly critical eye at its core.

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Ella Jeffery

Ella Jeffery

Ella Jeffery is a Brisbane-based writer and editor. Her poetry, reviews, and essays have appeared in Meanjin, IslandWesterly, Ambit, Best Australian Poems, and elsewhere. She was joint winner of the 2017 June Shenfield Poetry Prize, has been highly commended in the Judith Wright Poetry Prize and the Val Vallis Award for Poetry, and shortlisted for the Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award. She is co-editor of Stilts Journal and poetry editor of Social Alternatives.

Judges' comments:

Ella is an award-winning poet, a co-editor of Stilts, poetry editor of Social Alternatives journal, and past Editorial Committee member of Voiceworks. Add to that her industry experience and academic work, and Ella should be acknowledged as a writer, publisher, and editor who is already changing the literary landscape in Queensland.

Bri Lee

Bri Lee

Bri Lee's first book, Eggshell Skull, is a memoir of sexism in the justice system and was published by Allen & Unwin in June 2018 with endorsements by Helen Garner, Charlotte Wood, and Clementine Ford. Her journalism has been published in The Saturday Paper, Crikey, and The Guardian, and her essays have appeared in Griffith Review, VAULT Art Magazine, and Kill Your Darlings. In 2016 she was the inaugural Kat Muscat Fellow, in 2017 was a Griffith Review Fellow, and in 2018 received the Alfred Midgley Scholarship for Australian literature from The University of Queensland where she is now completing a Masters in Creative Writing.

Judges' comments:

It is heartening to see a young writer and publisher find their voice, their place in the literary community and in the broader public sphere. Eggshell Skull is an important book for many reasons, not least because of the strength of Bri’s writing, the vital message she drives home, and the conversations happening as a result. Bri’s commitment to supporting other writers via Hot Chicks with Big Brains is also indicative of the heart, creative eye, and vision needed to succeed in an ever-changing industry.

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Emily O'Grady

Emily O'Grady

Emily O’Grady is a writer from Brisbane. Her fiction, poetry, and criticism have appeared in Meanjin, Southerly, The Lifted Brow, The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Kill Your Darlings, Australian Poetry Journal, and Award Winning Australian Writing. In 2017, she was longlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, shortlisted for the Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize, and placed second in the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction. Emily co-edits Stilts poetry journal, and has a PhD in Creative Writing from QUT. Her first novel, The Yellow House, won the 2018 Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award.

Judges' comments:

The release of Emily’s remarkable debut novel, her short fiction and poetry mark her as an emerging author of note, locally and nationally. As co-editor of Stilts, her support for poetry and short-form fiction is also helping to transform and consolidate Queensland’s literary community into one which challenges long-held assumptions about where Australia’s literary home lies.

Yen-Rong Wong

Yen-Rong Wong

Yen-Rong is a Brisbane-based writer of non-fiction, and the founding editor of Pencilled In, a magazine devoted to publishing and championing the work of Asian Australian writers and artists. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Deborah Cass Prize, and her work has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, SBS, Meanjin, and The Lifted Brow.

Judges' comments:

Like her peers, Yen-Rong is a writer, editor, publisher, and negotiator of partnerships. Her work creating space and opportunities for Asian-Australian writers and artists via Pencilled In reveals a clear intent to shape and contribute to a literary community that is inclusive, exciting and connected.

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The University of Queensland Fiction Book Award

Flames

Flames

by Robbie Arnott

Text Publishing

About the book

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle. Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

About the author

Robbie Arnott was born in Launceston in 1989. His writing has appeared in IslandThe Lifted BrowKill Your Darlings, and the 2017 anthology Seven Stories. He won the 2015 Tasmanian Young Writers’ Fellowship and the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. Robbie lives in Hobart and is an advertising copywriter.

Judges' comments

Grief and obsession are among the themes explored in a unique fashion by an author who has been compared—and rightly so—to David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas. The novel is stylistically diverse with touches of magical realism and mythological and fantasy elements that make for a satisfying whole that celebrates the power of language and storytelling.

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The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree

by Shokoofeh Azar

Wild Dingo Press

About the book

This book is an extraordinarily powerful and evocative literary novel set in Iran in the period immediately after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Using the lyrical magic realism style of classical Persian storytelling, Azar draws the reader deep into the heart of a family caught in the maelstrom of post-revolutionary chaos and brutality that sweeps across an ancient land and its people. Azar is the consummate storyteller, using the panoply of Persian mythical and mystical entities to bring life, humour, hope, resignation, and profound insights to the characters and their world.

About the author

Shokoofeh Azar was born in Iran just seven years before the Islamic revolution. Shokoofeh’s early interest in literature and art developed into a successful career in writing and art in Iran, including 14 years as an independent journalist. In 2004, Shokoofeh became the first Iranian woman to backpack and hitchhike along the Silk Road. In 2011, Azar was forced to leave Iran. She was accepted as a political refugee by Australia. The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree is Azar’s first novel to be translated into English.

Judges' comments

Who knew there was a school of Iranian magical realism? Azar’s book is transcendental and beautiful and culturally significant as the author observes from afar. The meditative style suits the Persian subject matter and the mythical elements help us to understand a world that has been lost under the heavy hand of the Islamic revolution in the author’s home country.

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The Fish Girl

The Fish Girl

by Mirandi Riwoe

Brio Books

About the book

Sparked by the description of a ‘Malay trollop’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, ‘The Four Dutchmen’, Mirandi Riwoe’s novella, The Fish Girl, tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide. Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.

About the author

Mirandi Riwoe’s novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V and was shortlisted for The Stella Prize. Her debut novel She be Damned is followed this year with A Necessary Murder. She is Peril Magazine’s prose editor. Her work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review, and Shibboleth and Other Stories. She has received an Asialink residency with the Shanghai Writers Association and fellowships from the Queensland Literary Awards and Griffith Review. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).

Judges' comments

Inspired by a character from a story by W. Somerset Maugham, this slim novel, or novella, tells the story of an Indonesian girl from a small fishing village who goes to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. The colonial setting in our region is attractive and the storytelling is clear and engaging. This is a beautiful and surprising book. Its brevity belies its power and depth and it resonates long after reading.

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Taboo

Taboo

by Kim Scott

Pan Macmillan

About the book

Taboo takes place in the present day, in the rural South-West of Western Australia, and tells the story of a group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar's descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife's dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

About the author

Kim Scott grew up on the South Coast of Western Australia. As a descendant of those who first created human society along that edge of ocean, he is proud to be one among those who call themselves Noongar. He began writing for publication when he became a teacher of English and has had poetry and short stories published in a number of anthologies. That Deadman Dance has won several awards, including the 2011 Miles Franklin Award and the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Fiction—regional winner. Kim lives in Coolbellup, Western Australia, and is currently employed at the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University.

Judges' comments

A confronting but ultimately hopeful book that probes Australia’s heart of darkness in poetic and masterly prose. Scott just gets better and better in a novel that is brutal but also idealistic. He should be regarded as an important voice in world literature.

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The Shepherd's Hut

The Shepherd's Hut

by Tim Winton

Penguin Random House

About the book

A rifle-shot of a novel—crisp, fast, shocking—The Shepherd’s Hut is an urgent masterpiece about solitude, unlikely friendship, and the raw business of survival. Jaxie dreads going home. His mum’s dead. The old man bashes him without mercy. But in one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. The Shepherd’s Hut is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.

About the author

Tim Winton has published 29 books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into 28 languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for ShallowsCloudstreet, Dirt Music, and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.

Judges' comments

This book is a reminder that Winton is one of our finest writers. In this book his vision is bleak but searingly honest and his ability to tap into the voice of a disenfranchised young man is surprising. This novel is also redemptive above all and is vaguely reminiscent of the Randolph Stowe classic To the Islands.

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The University of Queensland Non-Fiction Book Award

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

by Judith Brett

Text Publishing

About the book

Alfred Deakin—scholar, spiritualist, prime minister—was instrumental in creating modern Australia. In the first biography of Deakin in more than half a century, the acclaimed political historian Judith Brett deftly weaves together his public, private and family lives. She brings out from behind the image of a worthy, bearded father of federation the principled and passionate, gifted and eccentric figure whose legacy continues to shape the contours of the nation’s politics.

About the author

Judith Brett is the award-winning author of Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People, emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University, and one of Australia’s leading political thinkers. She contributes regularly to the Monthly and has written three Quarterly Essays.

Judges' comments

Judith Brett has devoted enormous energy and scholarship to this biography of one of Australia’s founding fathers. Alfred Deakin was a strong leader, a prime minister, who played a key role in shaping modern Australia. Brett has brought him alive for the twenty-first century reader of history, showing us that democracy and integrity are worth fighting for in these dispiriting times.

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The Year Everything Changed: 2001

The Year Everything Changed: 2001

by Phillipa McGuinness

Penguin Random House

About the book

On New Year’s Eve 2001, with her husband by her side, Phillipa McGuinness buried her son. They stood in Chua Chu Kang Cemetery and watched a small coffin go into the ground. Later that night, shattered, they sat looking out at the hundreds of ships waiting to come into port in Singapore’s harbor. Phillipa wanted time to push on, for 2001 to be over, but she was also scared. What might be next? If 2001 were a movie—oh wait, of course it was—its tagline might be ‘The year that changed everything’. And that change is not over.

About the author

Phillipa McGuinness is an acclaimed non-fiction publisher who has been commissioning books of history, politics, current affairs, biography, and memoir, many of them prize-winners, for almost 25 years. She is the editor of Copyfight, and has been published in The GuardianMeanjin, and elsewhere. She has appeared on panels, as a chair at writer’s festivals, a keynote speaker, at publishing seminars and media and journalism conferences, and has talked about culture, copyright, and cities on various radio programs over the years. She tweets as @pipmcg and lives in Sydney.

Judges' comments

McGuinness has chosen the millennial year to explore the century we are living in. She begins in January 2001 and each of the 12 chapters focusses on a month and a theme, ending in a personal one about the death of her new-born baby. We revisit the death of Donald Bradman and how we choose our icons, the steady beat of explosive allegations of child sexual abuse within institutions, the world-changing 9/11, our becoming embroiled in what is an ongoing war in Afghanistan, our trading of freedom for the promise of security, and the impact a boat called Tampa had on our collective views on refugees and asylum-seekers. The author manages to lighten what could be a heavy load with a warm, sympathetic, and always accessible touch.

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Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture—A New Earth

Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture—A New Earth

by Charles Massy

UQP

About the book

Call of the Reed Warbler will change the way we farm, eat, and think about food. In this ground-breaking book Charles Massy explores regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. Using his personal farming experience as a touchstone, he tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. He shows how innovative farmers are finding a new way, regenerating their land and witnessing astounding transformations. Evocatively, he captures what it truly means to live in connection with the land. For farmer, backyard gardener, food buyer, health worker, policy maker, and public leader alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a clear vision of a sustainable future for our food supply, our landscape, our health, and our Earth. It offers hope and a powerful affirmation of our potential for change. Now is the time for a grassroots revolution.

About the author

Charles Massy gained a Bachelor of Science (Zoology, Human Ecology) at ANU (1976), before going farming for 35 years, developing the prominent Merino sheep stud ‘Severn Park’. Concern at ongoing land degradation and humanity’s sustainability challenge led him to return to ANU in 2009 to undertake a PhD in Human Ecology. Charles was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service as Chair and Director of a number of research organisations and statutory wool boards. He has also served on national and international review panels in sheep and wool research and development and genomics. Charles has authored several books on the Australian sheep industry, the most recent being the widely acclaimed Breaking the Sheep’s Back (UQP, 2011).

Judges' comments

Massy has written a grand book which outlines in startling detail the compromised story of agriculture in Australia since 1788. Fortunately his story is also one of hope. His book is both visionary and practical, wonderful and wise. It is a call to all of us whether we be urban dwellers or farmers to recognise our crucial connections to the land, and our responsibility to be regenerative in our practices.

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Korea: Where the American Century Began

Korea: Where the American Century Began

by Michael Pembroke

Hardie Grant Books

About the book

Michael Pembroke's timely book, Korea, tells the story of the Korean peninsula with compassion for the people of the North and South, understanding and insight for the role of China and concern about the past and present role of the United States.

About the author

Michael Pembroke is a writer, historian, naturalist, and the author of the acclaimed historical biography Arthur Phillip—Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy (2013), which was short-listed for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and runner-up in the National Maritime Museum history award. He has been a judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales since 2010.

Judges' comments

This is a devastating book which sheds light on a country shrouded in darkness and trouble, and its modern history in which the United States has played a pivotal role since the end of World War Two. This is a vitally important book because so much of Pembroke’s carefully researched facts are little known.

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Tracker

Tracker

by Alexis Wright

Giramondo Publishing

About the book

Alexis Wright returns to non-fiction in her new book Tracker, a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth, who died in Darwin in 2015 at the age of 62. Taken from his family as a child and brought up in a mission on Croker Island, Tracker Tilmouth worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles, including Director of the Central Land Council of the Northern Territory. Tracker was a visionary, a strategist and a projector of ideas, renowned for his irreverent humour and his determination to tell things the way he saw them. Having known him for many years, Alexis Wright interviewed Tracker, along with family, friends, colleagues, and the politicians he influenced, weaving his and their stories together in a manner reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize–winning author Svetlana Alexievich. The book is as much a testament to the powerful role played by storytelling in contemporary Aboriginal life as it is to the legacy of an extraordinary man.

About the author

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. She is renowned as the author of the prize-winning novels Carpentaria and The Swan Book, and has published two previous works of non-fiction, Take Power, an oral history of the Central Land Council, and Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in the Northern Territory. Her books have been published widely overseas, including in China, the US, the UK, Italy, France, and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in Western Sydney University’s Writing and Society Research Centre.

Judges' comments

This book is stunningly innovative in the way it brings the life and story of Tracker Tilmouth to the printed page. Tracker was a visionary Aboriginal leader who used his knowledge of economics to further opportunities for his people. This book is operatic in form, soaring to great heights and depths, always fascinating and ultimately illuminating about this Indigenous leader who remains unknown to many non-Indigenous Australians.

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Griffith University Children's Book Award

The Storm Whale

The Storm Whale

by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner (illustrator)

Allen & Unwin

About the book

Bleak was the day and the wind whipped down when I and my sisters walked to town ... With a powerful, poetic text, wonderful to read aloud, and illustrations full of life and movement, Storm Whale celebrates the majesty and vulnerability of nature and our place in it.

About the author

Sarah Brennan is the Hong Kong-based, Tasmanian-born author and publisher of the best-selling Chinese Calendar Tales as well as the hugely popular Dirty Story series for kids and Dummies for Mummies, a humorous parenting advice manual published by Haven Books. Her books have regularly appeared on bestseller lists in Hong Kong, where at one point, two of her titles outsold the (then) latest J.K.Rowling and Stephenie Meyer titles for 6 weeks running! Two titles have previously been long-listed for Singapore's Red Dot Children's Book Awards, and her 2015 title, The Tale of Rodney Ram, was short-listed for the Golden Dragon Book Awards 2016. Almost 60,000 of Sarah's books have been sold to date.

About the illustrator

Jane Tanner has a fine art and teaching background and began illustrating picture books full-time in 1984. She loves working for children and drawing their attention to the natural world in all its awe and wonder. She is the acclaimed illustrator of the best-selling picture books There's a Sea in my BedroomDrac and the GremlinThe Wolf, The Fisherman and the TheefysprayLucy's Cat and the Rainbow Birds, and The Soldier's Gift. She is the author and illustrator of PlaymatesIsabella's SecretRide with MeJust JackLove from Grandma, and Lily and the Fairy House. She has won or been shortlisted for many prestigious awards, including the CBCA Book of the Year Awards in the categories of Picture Book of the Year, Younger Readers, and Early Childhood.

Judges' comments

During their seaside stay, three sisters work tirelessly to save a whale that has become stranded on the shore. Nostalgic and lyrical, Sarah Brennan’s sustained and perfectly nuanced verses ebb and flow seamlessly in this timeless narrative, while Jane Tanner’s combination of monochromatic and multi-coloured pencil and pastel illustrations reflect the text’s mood, pace, and burgeoning sense of hope.

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The Elephant

The Elephant

by Peter Carnavas

UQP

About the book

Olive’s father has a sadness so big that she imagines it as an enormous elephant following him around. Every day Olive sees the elephant, and every day she wishes it would go. With the help of Grandad and her best friend, Arthur, Olive sets out to chase the elephant away. But how can Olive move something so big?

About the author

Peter Carnavas writes and illustrates books for children and the grown-ups in their lives. His first book, Jessica’s Box, was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the CBCA Crichton Award for Emerging Illustrators. He has since created many books, including Last Tree in the City, The Children Who Loved Books, and Blue Whale Blues. He has recently illustrated Damon Young’s series of humorous picture books that celebrate family diversity. He is a popular presenter in schools and his work has been translated into many languages, including Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and Dutch. Peter lives on the Sunshine Coast with his wife, two daughters, and a small, charming dog called Florence.

Judges' comments

Peter Carnavas has illustrated his debut novel, The Elephant, with simple, evocative line drawings. How Olive and her grandad cope with her mother’s death and father’s overwhelming grief is shown through consummate, heartfelt storytelling. The sensory, lyrical writing is exquisite and the symbols are profound yet ultimately light-filled and hopeful.

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Go Go and the Silver Shoes

Go Go and the Silver Shoes

by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker (illustrator)

Penguin Random House

About the book

When Go Go is allowed to buy the most beautiful shoes ever, she decides she will wear them EVERYWHERE! Even to the creek, where she and her brothers go adventuring. But—Oh no, Go Go!—that's when a terrible thing happens …

About the author

Jane Godwin is the highly acclaimed author of many books for children. Her work is published internationally and together with Anna Walker, Jane has created a number of bestselling picture books, including Little Cat and the Big Red Bus, All Through the Year, Today We Have No Plans, Starting School, and What Do You Wish For?

About the illustrator

Anna Walker writes and illustrates children's books and is based in Melbourne. Crafted with pencil, ink, and collage, Anna's illustrations are inspired by the everyday details of life and the amusing antics of her menagerie. Anna's book, as author–illustrator with Penguin, Mr Huff, won the 2016 CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood and was shortlisted in the 2016 Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Together with Jane Godwin, Anna has also created many beautiful picture books. Anna's most recent picture book as author–illustrator is the delightful Florette.

Judges' comments

When Go Go and her brothers go adventuring, she loses one of her beloved sparkly silver shoes. Jane Godwin’s gently humorous writing and Anna Walker’s multi-layered illustrations depict an endearing and self-confident protagonist in this story about finding friendship in the most unexpected of ways.

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The Shop at Hoopers Bend

The Shop at Hoopers Bend

by Emily Rodda

HarperCollins

About the book

When Quil Medway gets on the train, she thinks she knows where and how her journey will end. At camp. Alone. But when she decides to get off early at a train stop called Hoopers Bend, everything will change. Quil doesn’t know anything about the shop yet. Or the magic. But it won’t be long now. From one of Australia's most renowned children's authors, this is a story about coming home when you didn't even know that was where you belonged.

About the author

Emily Rodda's first book, Something Special, was published with Angus & Robertson in 1984. It marked the beginning of a career that has seen her become one of the most successful, prolific and versatile writers in Australia. Since then, Emily has written or co-authored over 90 books that range from picture books to YA novels, and the outstandingly successful Deltora Quest fantasy series. A full-time writer since 1994, Emily has won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award a record five times and seems to instinctively know what children want to read. http://www.emilyrodda.com/

Judges' comments

Emily Rodda’s engaging tale of searching and longing is set in small, regional Hoopers Bend. With unforgettable characters—and a very special heroine in Jonquil (Quil)—the novel explores relationships and intertwines elements of magic and mystery with a surprising twist. Quil, Pirate, Bailey, the Shop, the stardust … all linger long.

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Swan Lake

Swan Lake

by Anne Spudvilas

Allen & Unwin

About the book

The iconic ballet Swan Lake, the tragic love story of a princess transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer, has been revered for more than a century. In this atmospheric adaptation, Anne Spudvilas reimagines the classic tale of passion, betrayal, and heartbreak in the dramatic riverscape of the Murray-Darling.

About the author

Anne Spudvilas is a multi-award-winning illustrator of children's books and an established portrait painter and printmaker. Her first picture book, The Race by Christobel Mattingley, was awarded the Crichton Award for Illustration and was a CBCA Honour Book. Her bestselling books include The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin, which won the NSW and Queensland Premiers' Awards in 2008, and Jenny Angel by Margaret Wild, which was CBCA Picture Book of the Year in 2000. Anne's move to the Murray River has inspired her latest book, an illustrated retelling of the classic ballet story Swan Lake. She lives in Wentworth, where the Murray and Darling rivers meet, surrounded by birds and river red gums.

Judges' comments

Set against the riverscape of the Murray-Darling, Anne Spudlivas’ reimagined adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is simply breathtaking. Richly textured prints reflect the passion, deception and heartbreak of this classic tale. Its present-tense narrative is complemented by striking illustrations; their mostly muted tones are contrasted with dramatic splashes of red, heightening the text’s immediacy.

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Griffith University Young Adult Book Award

In the Dark Spaces

In the Dark Spaces

by Cally Black

Hardie Grant Egmont

About the book

Tamara has been living on a star freighter in deep space, and her kidnappers are terrifying Crowpeople—the only aliens humanity has ever encountered. No-one has ever survived a Crowpeople attack, until now—and Tamara must use everything she has just to stay alive. But survival always comes at a price, and there’s no handbook for this hostage crisis. As Tamara comes to know the Crowpeople's way of life, and the threats they face from humanity's exploration into deep space, she realises she has an impossible choice to make. Should she stay as the only human among the Crows, knowing she'll never see her family again … or inevitably betray her new community if she wants to escape?

About the author

Cally Black's first young adult novel won the Ampersand Prize. It wasn't the first novel she'd written, and it wasn't the first draft that made it through to the printers. She's been working on writing for a long time. Cally Black's universe is filled with stories from her childhood on hill country sheep stations to youthful backpacking adventures to more recent motorbike rides across the USA, but it's stories set in future worlds that fascinate her most. And while she loves science and technology and the way they shape our future, what really grabs her attention is the people, especially those left on the fringes of society. Cally works in education and lives in Melbourne with her family and a slightly nutty dog.

Judges' comments

This brutally realistic sci-fi novel enfolds a heart-wrenching family story. The norms of race, class, social justice, and personal responsibility are confronted by our young protagonist, Tamara, as she collides and colludes with an alien culture in a quest to rescue her baby cousin and find a way home.

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The Dream Walker

The Dream Walker

by Victoria Carless

Hachette

About the book

Lucy Hart, 16, has been counting the days till she can get out of Digger’s Landing—a tiny Queensland fishing hamlet. As graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter; her best friend, Polly, is dropping out to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school. And then there’s Lucy’s nightlife, which is filled with dreams that don’t seem to belong to her at all … When the fish stop biting, like they did when her mum was still around, Lucy realises she isn’t the only one with a secret.

About the author

Victoria Carless grew up in a small town on the North Queensland coast, and spent weekends on the water in a tinnie with her family. She is a published playwright, having written and produced seven plays since 2006. Her Queensland Theatre Company award-winning script, The Rainbow Dark, was published in the Staging Asylum collection by Currency Press in 2013. She holds a PhD in creative writing and regularly contributes contemporary performance reviews to Real Time magazine. She is a graduate of the 2015 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program. The Dream Walker is her first novel.

Judges' comments

A touch of magical realism and a lyrical sense of place carry this two-layered tale of a teen trapped in the squalor of her small fishing community. Escaping into the surreal world of dreamscape, Lucy begins to make heartbreaking sense of the secrets that surround her.

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Sparrow

Sparrow

by Scot Gardner

Allen & Unwin

About the book

When a juvenile detention exercise off the coast of the Kimberley goes wrong, 16-year-old Sparrow must swim to shore. There are sharks and crocs around him but the monsters he fears most live in the dark spaces in his mind. He's swimming away from his prison life and towards a desolate, rocky coastland and the hollow promise of freedom. He'll eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. With no voice, no family, and the odds stacked against him, Sparrow has nothing left to lose. But to survive he'll need something more potent than desperation, something more dangerous than a makeshift knife. Hope.

About the author

Scot Gardner became a writer after a chance meeting with a magazine editor while hitchhiking in eastern Australia. Magazine articles led to op-ed newspaper pieces and eventually novels. Scot's first fiction for young adults, One Dead Seagull, was published after he attended a writing camp with John Marsden. More than a decade later, his many books have found local and international favour and garnered praise and awards for their honest take on adolescent life. They include books like White Ute DreamingBurning Eddy and, most recently, Happy as Larry, winner of a WA Premier's Book Award for young adult fiction, and The Dead I Know, winner of the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers. Scot lives with his wife and some chickens in country Victoria.

Judges' comments

Seamless juxtaposition links the past experiences of Sparrow, a mute homeless child surviving the streets of Darwin, with his adolescent self, Spaz, fleeing incarceration and battling the extreme wilderness of the top end. Sparrow’s instincts, resilience and sense of justice create a consummate example of the enduring human spirit.

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Amelia Westlake

Amelia Westlake

by Erin Gough

Hardie Grant Egmont

About the book

Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating. Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet's ideas are good—and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school. But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies—and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake—and their feelings for each other—a secret?

About the author

Erin Gough is a Sydney-based writer whose first YA novel, The Flywheel, won Hardie Grant Egmont's Ampersand Prize. The Flywheel was published in the US as Get it Together, Delilah! and in Germany, and was shortlisted for the CBCA's Book of the Year for Older Readers and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Gold Inky. It was also named a White Raven International Youth Library title. Her second YA novel, Amelia Westlake, was published in 2018. Erin’s award-winning short stories have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Best Australian Stories, The Age, Overland, Southerly, and Going Down Swinging. Erin is a past recipient of the Varuna Eleanor Dark Flagship Fellowship for Fiction and an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship.

Judges' comments

Gough deftly navigates the delicate space where comedy meets drama. Her two spirited protagonists, the naively generous Harriet, and the cynical, completely ‘woke’ Will, forge a bond as they concoct a series of pranks that challenge privilege, power, and pretence. Their subsequent developing attraction is organic and authentic.

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Because of You

Because of You

by Pip Harry

UQP

About the book

‘Books can save anyone. If they’re the right ones.’ Tiny is an eighteen-year-old girl living on the streets in Sydney, running from her small-town past. She finds short-term accommodation at Hope Lane—a shelter for the homeless—where she meets Nola, a high school student on volunteer placement. Both girls share their love of words through the Hope Lane writing group. Can they share their secrets, too?

About the author

Pip Harry is a freelance editor, copywriter, and author. UQP published Pip’s debut novel, I’ll Tell You Mine, which won the 2013 Australian Family Therapists’ Award for Children’s Literature and Head of the River, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and longlisted for the State Library of Victoria Gold Inky award in 2015. She currently lives and writes in Singapore. www.pipharry.com

Judges' comments

Because of You is determined to challenge perceptions of homelessness through an unlikely friendship between homeless teen, Tiny, and privileged student, Nola. Drawing on the author’s personal experiences, it explores the topic with humanity, empathy, and understanding, while reminding us to never judge a book by its cover.

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University of Southern Queensland History Book Award

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

by Judith Brett

Text Publishing

About the book

Alfred Deakin—scholar, spiritualist, prime minister—was instrumental in creating modern Australia. In the first biography of Deakin in more than half a century, the acclaimed political historian Judith Brett deftly weaves together his public, private, and family lives. She brings out from behind the image of a worthy, bearded father of federation the principled and passionate, gifted, and eccentric figure whose legacy continues to shape the contours of the nation’s politics.

About the author

Judith Brett is the award-winning author of Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People, emeritus professor of politics at La Trobe University, and one of Australia’s leading political thinkers. She contributes regularly to the Monthly and has written three Quarterly Essays.

Judges' comments

Brett’s spirited writing and insightful analysis develop a fresh new perspective on a key figure in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Australia. Deakin has often been assessed as Australia’s greatest prime minister and Brett successfully explores the religious, political, and family currents which underpinned his public life. This worthwhile study demonstrates the power that previously unexplored personal materials can bring to historical interpretation.

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Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia

Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia

by Billy Griffiths

Black Inc

About the book

Soon after Billy Griffiths joins his first archaeological dig as camp manager and cook, he is hooked. Equipped with a historian’s inquiring mind, he embarks on a journey through time, seeking to understand the extraordinary deep history of the Australian continent. Deep Time Dreaming is the passionate product of that journey. It investigates a twin revolution: the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia. It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and belonging. It is about a slow shift in national consciousness: the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many of us relate to this continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.

About the author

Billy Griffiths is the author of The China Breakthrough and co-editor with Mike Smith of The Australian Archaeologist’s Book of Quotations. He is a research fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.

Judges' comments

This complex work somehow manages to combine narrative power and momentum with a comprehensible study of the often-impenetrable world of Australian forensic archaeology. In conception and research, it is original and an important contribution to our understanding of this extraordinary continent and the ingenious people who settled and managed its diverse environments through immense changes.

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Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians

Beautiful Balts: From Displaced Persons to New Australians

by Jayne Persian

NewSouth Publishing

About the book

70,000 Displaced Persons arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1952—the first non-Anglo-Celtic mass migrants. Australia’s first immigration minister, Arthur Calwell, scoured post-war Europe for refugees, Displaced Persons he characterised as ‘Beautiful Balts’. Amid the hierarchies of the White Australia Policy, the tensions of the Cold War and the national need for labour, these people would transform not only Australia’s immigration policy, but the country itself. Beautiful Balts tells the extraordinary story of these Displaced Persons.

About the author

Jayne Persian is a historian with a PhD in history from the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the political, cultural, and social history of the 170,000 ‘Displaced Persons’—predominantly Central and Eastern Europeans—who arrived in Australia as International Refugee Organisation (IRO)-sponsored refugees. Jayne is currently a lecturer in history at the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba.

Judges' comments

From its startling introduction to its well-analysed conclusion, this penetrating study brings an interesting new approach to the study of Australia’s immigration policy after the Second World War. The use of Ivan and Natasia’s family memoir and other stories of people displaced by war provides the human dimension to the otherwise well-understood and celebrated economic contribution of refugee settlers.

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We'll Show the World: Expo 88

We'll Show the World: Expo 88

by Jackie Ryan

UQP

About the book

World Expo 88 was the largest, longest, and loudest of Australia’s bicentennial events. A shiny 1980s amalgam of cultural precinct, shopping mall, theme park, travelogue, and rock concert, Expo 88 is commonly credited as the catalyst for Brisbane’s ‘coming of age’. So how did an elaborate and expensive party change a city forever? We’ll Show the World explores the shifting social and political environment of Expo 88, shaped as much by Queensland’s controversial premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen as it was by those who reacted against him. It shows how something initially greeted with outrage, scepticism, and indifference came to mean so much to so many, how a state better known for eliciting insults enchanted much of the nation, and how, to Brisbane, Expo was personal.

About the author

Jackie Ryan holds a PhD in history and political science from The University of Queensland, where she was an Honorary Research Fellow. She wrote the didactic text for the Museum of Brisbane’s ‘Light Fantastic’ exhibition on Expo 88 in 2013, and has devised audiovisual material on Expo for the Southbank Corporation and the Queensland Museum. She produces the Aurealis Award-winning Burger Force comic series and founded comedy writing collective the Fanciful Fiction Auxiliary; the websites for both of these projects have been archived by the National Library of Australia as sites of cultural significance. Jackie is the programs manager at the Queensland Writers Centre. She still has her Expo season pass.

Judges' comments

Jackie Ryan’s Expo 88 is an engaging history of Queensland in the 1970s and 1980s giving an extraordinary insight into Queensland’s distinctive political and commercial machinations, as well as its social history. Ryan’s achievement in analysing the many dimensions of the Expo story—its boosters, doubters, and opponents of its social dislocation—with such pacey economy is extraordinary. Ryan’s literary writing style demonstrates that scholarly excellence can still be accessible to all readers.

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The Battle Within: POWs in Postwar

The Battle Within: POWs in Postwar Australia

by Christina Twomey

NewSouth Publishing

About the book

This landmark and compelling book follows the stories of 15,000 Australian prisoners of war from the moment they were released by the Japanese at the end of World War II. Their struggle to rehabilitate themselves and to win compensation and acknowledgement from their own country was just beginning. This moving book shows that ‘the battle within’ was both a personal and a national one.

About the author

Christina Twomey is Head of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University, Melbourne. She is the author of three books, A History of Australia (co-authored with Mark Peel, 2011), Australia’s Forgotten Prisoners: Civilians Interned by the Japanese in World War Two (2007), and Deserted and Destitute: Motherhood, Wife Desertion and Colonial Welfare (2002). Christina has also published widely on the cultural history of war, with a focus on issues of imprisonment, captivity, witnessing, the photography of atrocity, gender, and memory.

Judges' comments

Twomey’s study of prisoners of war after their return to Australia is an important contribution to understanding the intricacies of war’s long shadow, both for members of the armed services and for the people who waited at home. The use of personal recollections and opinions to disprove the military–medical establishment’s denial of long-term trauma is powerful. This study is thought-provoking and relevant to today’s wider discourse of traumatic stress disorder.

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University of Southern Queensland Short Story—Steele Rudd Award

Bird Country

Bird Country

by Claire Aman

Text Publishing

About the book

A boat trip in a squall to scatter the ashes of an old man, who was not loved. A young father, driving his daughters home across grass plains, unable to tell them that their mother has died. A speech that doesn’t include the aching pain of trying to save a cousin’s life. A mother hiding her fugitive son in a cockatoo cage as the river rises. A man pouring his life into finding the perfect stained glass after his wife has left him. A woman longing for the right person to tell about her sister’s death, while she works nightshift at a roadhouse. These are moving and evocative stories about love and loss and yearning—and the things we don’t say. Claire Aman is a strong new voice in Australian fiction.

About the author

Claire Aman grew up in Melbourne, but has lived most of her life in rural Australia, in and around Grafton in New South Wales. Her short stories have been published in a number of collections and several have won prizes, including the Wet Ink/CAL Prize and the Hal Porter Prize.

Judges' comments

Evocative and haunting, the stories in Bird Country are finely drawn. Claire Man’s characters are rich and complex, and the problems they encounter are familiar and intimate. This is a collection that breathes with the presence of the Australian landscape, drawing the reader into each locale.

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Common People

Common People

by Tony Birch

UQP

About the book

In this unforgettable new collection, Tony Birch introduces a cast of characters from all walks of life. These remarkable and surprising stories capture common people caught up in the everyday business of living and the struggle to survive. From two single mothers on the most unlikely night shift to a homeless man unexpectedly faced with the miracle of a new life, Birch’s stories are set in gritty urban refuges and battling regional communities. His deftly drawn characters find unexpected signs of hope in a world where beauty can be found on every street corner—a message on a T-shirt, a friend in a stray dog or a star in the night sky. Common People shines a light on human nature and how the ordinary kindness of strangers can have extraordinary results. With characteristic insight and restraint, Tony Birch reinforces his reputation as a master storyteller.

About the author

Tony Birch is the author of Ghost River, which won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. He is also the author of Shadowboxing, and two short story collections, Father’s Day and The Promise. Tony is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne and is a Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University

Judges' comments

With every story, Tony Birch proves his experience as an established and worthy voice. Common People is filled with unforgettable characters who are bright with life. Each and every story is consistently compelling, the writer masterfully balancing restraint and insight to create a collection that is memorable and deeply satisfying.

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Habits of Silence

Habits of Silence

by Stephanie Buckle

Finlay Lloyd Publishers

About the book

This richly varied collection of stories explores the role of silence in the relationships of its characters. These people come from different stages and spheres of contemporary life—teenage boy, ageing widow, drug addict, nurse, or businessman. Buckle captures the mood and grain of each of these lives with vivid insight. While the characters have all the difficulties communicating that we can recognise in our own lives, Buckle’s deceptively understated style reveals them with startling cumulative power. Very readable yet subtly challenging, the narrative momentum of these stories holds the reader while often ‘turning the tables’ on apparent expectations.

About the author

Stephanie Buckle is a novelist and short story writer who lives on a farm in Brindabella, NSW. Her stories have won a number of awards, including the Marjorie Graber McInnes Short Story Award, and the Fellowship of Australian Writers, A.C.T. Branch, Short Story Award. From this collection, Behind the Lines won first prize in the E.J. Brady Short Story Award 2006, and was third in the Boroondara Literary Award in 2006. A Lovely Afternoon won third prize in the Henry Handel Richardson Short Story Award in 2014.

Judges' comments

Stephanie Buckle’s writing is a beautiful and welcome surprise. Habits of Silence is a collection that straddles sly humour, heartbreaking love stories and poetic echoes on the theme of silence. Stephanie Buckle’s dialogue leaps off the page and demands attention. The stories and characters are impossible to forget.

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Pulse Points

Pulse Points

by Jennifer Down

Text Publishing

About the book

The characters in Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points live in small dusty towns, glittering exotic cities and slow droll suburbs; they are mourners, survivors, and perpetrators. In the award-winning ‘Aokigahara’, a young woman travels to the sea of trees in Japan to say goodbye. In ‘Coarsegold’, a woman conducts an illicit affair while her recovering girlfriend works the overnight motel shift in the middle of nowhere. In ‘Dogs’, Foggo runs an unruly gang of bored, cruel boys with a scent for fresh meat. A gutting collection that showcases her singular voice, and reminds us once more that this is a writer of great talent.

About the author

Jennifer Down is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications including the Age, Saturday Paper, Australian Book Review, and Overland. She is one of Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year, 2017. Our Magic Hour, her debut novel, was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. She lives in Melbourne.

Judges' comments

It’s exceedingly rare to see astonishing talent in a writer so young. Pulse Points is a daring, compelling, and refreshing collection of stories that covers diverse territory. Each story is emotionally evocative, surprising the reader at every turn. This is a collection of an author to watch.

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Trick of the Light

Trick of the Light

by Laura Elvery

UQP

About the book

An art teacher sends four of her students on a guerrilla mission. A young runner struggles to make sense of his best friend’s death. A health-food company adopts a farcical promotional strategy. A factory worker spends her days applying radioactive paint to watches, while dreaming of a future with her new suitor. With a keen eye for detail and rich emotional insight, Laura Elvery reveals the fears and fantasies of everyday people searching for meaning. Ranging from tender poignancy to wry humour, Trick of the Light is the beguiling debut collection from one of Australia’s rising stars.

About the author

Laura Elvery is a writer from Brisbane. Her work has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, Review of Australian Fiction, Kill Your Darlings, and Griffith Review. She has won the Josephine Ulrick Prize for Literature and the Margaret River Short Story Competition, and was awarded a Griffith Review Queensland Writing Fellowship. She has been shortlisted for the Overland NUW Fair Australia, Neilma Sidney, and Victoria University prizes. In 2016, Laura was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

Judges' comments

Genuinely funny, occasionally disturbing and always realistic, Laura Elvery’s collection is a fantastic achievement. Trick of the Light is punctuated with gleaming prose that makes the collection a joy to read. The stories and characters are each wrought with fresh tenderness. When surprises come, they are palpable and earned. A joy to read.

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QUT Digital Literature Award

Our Cupidity Coda front cover

Our Cupidity Coda

by Mez Breeze

About the work

Our Cupidity Coda is Virtual Reality Literature designed to emulate conventions established in early cinematographic days (the silent soundtrack, white on black intertitle-like text, parallels to Kinetoscope viewing) that echo a similar sense of creative pioneering/exploration. Our Cupidity Coda is designed to be experienced multiple times in order to unstitch its poetic denseness. It’s a slow burn work for those that click with it. http://mezbreezedesign.com/vr-literature/our-cupidity-coda/

About the author

Mez Breeze writes, crafts, and constructs award-winning games, experimental storytelling, Virtual Reality Literature, XR Art , and other genre-defying output. Mez's works reside in Collections as diverse as The World Bank, Cornell's Rose Goldsen Archive, the National Library of Australia, and Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library (upcoming). Mez currently serves as an Advisor to the Mixed Augmented Reality Art Research Organisation, as a co-founder of the XR Artists Collective, as an Editorial Board Member of the Digital Journal Thresholds, and is a Senior Research Affiliate of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab.

Judges' comments

Deceptively simple, this poetic work allows the VR space to echo the emotional resonances of a text that charts the course of a relationship, from spellbound beginning to bittersweet end. The imagery experienced early in the piece gives away to arresting majesty and even fear. Created in and intended to be experienced as VR, this piece avoids the pitfalls of its technology, emphasising emotional and intellectual immersion over the pure sensory experience.

A Place Called Ormalcy front cover

A Place Called Ormalcy

by Mez Breeze

About the work

A Place Called Ormalcy is a digital fiction designed for, and developed in, Virtual Reality. Comprised of a text-based story made up of seven short Chapters housed in 3D/Virtual Reality environments, this story can be experienced across a diverse range of mobile devices, desktop PCs and Virtual Reality hardware. A Place Called Ormalcy offers a snapshot of the life of Mr Ormal, a happy-go-lucky law-abiding citizen of Ormalcy, a Utopian world full of contented creatures and happy citizens—or is it? http://mezbreezedesign.com/vr-literature/

About the author

Mez Breeze writes, crafts, and constructs award-winning games, experimental storytelling, Virtual Reality Literature, XR Art , and other genre-defying output. Mez's works reside in Collections as diverse as The World Bank, Cornell's Rose Goldsen Archive, the National Library of Australia, and Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library (upcoming). Mez currently serves as an Advisor to the Mixed Augmented Reality Art Research Organisation, as a co-founder of the XR Artists Collective, as an Editorial Board Member of the Digital Journal Thresholds, and is a Senior Research Affiliate of the Humanities and Critical Code Studies Lab.

Judges' comments

This is a clever allegory using naïve illustration and nonce words to evoke a child-like sensibility in the text, which lends a sinister overtone to serious subject matter of authoritarianism and conformity. Its text and three-dimensional illustrations are beautifully integrated, giving the entire story an unsettling effect from the beginning. Its thoughtful layering of soundscapes in each chapter of the story has a memorable impact.

Core Values (Australian Poetry)

Core Values (Australian Poetry)

by Benjamin Laird

About the work

‘Core Values’ is a response to Dorothea Mackellar’s ‘My Country’, written as part of Australian Poetry’s Transforming My Country series. While following the formal length of the original (of six eight-line stanzas), in ‘Core Values’ the lines of the poem challenge the concepts of nationhood and ownership, with the text moving up walls of maps that emphasise the many ways Australia has been categorised since invasion. The poem aims to interrogate the artificial and destructive nature of walls, borders, and maps. Additionally, the poem has an alternative stereoscopic viewing mode, for supported devices, that places the reader within the walls of the poem.

About the author

Benjamin Laird is a software developer and poet. His poetry and essays have been published in various journals and his longer works include Composition, a book-length computer-assisted conceptual poem with US poet Angela Genusa, and The Durham Poems, a chapbook of electronic biographical poems about William Denton, a nineteenth century spiritualist, scientific lecturer, and radical. He is the website producer for Overland and Cordite Poetry Review.

Judges' comments

This concrete poem, a response to McKellar’s ‘My Country’, makes effective use of technology to not only animate language but transform the experience of the text into an inescapable prison. Its language is cut apart and interspersed with dehumanising jargon, map coordinates, GIS data, and technobabble made to scroll endlessly within a three-dimensional box, an Australia in which you are quite literally trapped. It is a confronting and powerful match between text and technology.

Little Emperor Syndrome

Little Emperor Syndrome

by David Thomas Henry Wright, with Chris Arnold

About the work

Little Emperor Syndrome follows the decline of the Selkirks, an upper middle-class Australian family, from the years of the Global Financial Crisis to the beginning of the Abbott government. Different family members determine each chapter. Its form is inspired by the high modernist style of William Faulkner, specifically the first two chapters of The Sound and the Fury (1929), and attempts to create what Faulkner called 'unbroken-surfaced confusion'.

About the author

David Thomas Henry Wright was shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards' inaugural QUT Digital Literature Prize, T.A.G. Hungerford Award, Viva La Novella Award, and Overland Short Story Prize. He has been published in SoutherlyWesterly, and Verity La. He has a Masters from The University of Edinburgh and lectured at China's top university, Tsinghua, where he developed the school's course in Australian Literature. He is an Electronic Literature Organisation member and presented at the 2017 Conference in Porto and 2018 Conference in Montréal. He is currently a PhD candidate at Murdoch University. www.davidthomashenrywright.com

About the developer

At the time of writing, Chris Arnold is failing to be an ex-software engineer while doing a creative writing PhD (something to do with poetry and hackers) at The University of Western Australia. Chris works as Westerly's web editor, an opportunity for which he's viciously grateful, so he thinks everyone should subscribe. He avoids having a web presence wherever possible. Instead, you can usually find him in Perth, Western Australia.

Judges' comments

An elegantly simple execution of a wickedly complex narrative, ‘Little Emperor Syndrome’ makes clever use of database-driven web coding—an accessible choice of platform—to achieve a multi-threaded narrative. The author has introduced a stunning number of permutations for experiencing the different modes and yet still the story works as a cohesive whole. It is a remarkable feat of narrative craft.

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Unpublished Indigenous Writer—David Unaipon Award

Kirstie Parker

The Making of Ruby Champion

by Kirstie Parker

About the author

Kirstie Parker is a Yuwallarai woman from north-western NSW, and has had a distinguished career as a journalist, communicator, and rights advocate. She’s a former Editor of the Koori Mail newspaper, female Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. Kirstie has been a Director of Reconciliation Australia since 2011. In August 2017, she moved with her partner to Adelaide and took up an executive role within the SA Public Service. Whilst new to writing fiction, she has always loved words.

Judges' comments

One of the achievements of this manuscript is the way it seamlessly draws together the outback Aboriginal grassroots experience with the urban Black story. Both settings are deeply and authentically Blak, and the humour and characters expressed by the author shine as a rough diamond from the heart of Aboriginal Australia.

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Melanie Saward

Why Worry Now

by Melanie Saward

About the author

Melanie Saward is a Brisbane-based writer, editor, and uni tutor, and is a proud descendant of the Wakka Wakka and Bigambul peoples. She is currently completing a Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing at QUT and also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from QUT and a Graduate Certificate in Writing, Editing, and Publishing from UQ. Melanie was recently shortlisted for the 2018 Varuna/Copyright Agency First Nations Fellowship and she’s published stories in 100 Stories for Queensland, Corrupted Classics, URL Love, Ricochet Magazine, Rex, and Literary Mixed Tapes

Judges' comments

An interesting entry concerning the growth of a young alienated Aboriginal arsonist whose relationship with his parents is highly fraught. There is writing talent here, and some gripping material. The protagonist is an interesting character, and the judges cared about his journey and his fate.

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Wendy Somerville

Jilba's Song

by Wendy Somerville

About the author

Wendy is a Jerrinja person from the South Coast of New South Wales, although born in Ngiyampaa Country and living in Ngunnawal Country for most of her life. She is a PhD student at the University of Canberra and after undertaking a series of workshops run by two previous winners of the David Unaipon Award—2016 winner Paul Collis and 2017 winner Lisa Fuller—Wendy changed the focus of her studies to creative writing.

Judges' comments

Jilba’s Song, pitched at a young adult audience, is an exploration of traditional Aboriginal life immediately prior to white invasion in the Shoalhaven area of southern coastal NSW. Jilba is a young girl whose sister is betrothed to a man of a neighbouring clan, who is killed by the first wave of colonists. The little-known lives and philosophy of pre-contact Koories is an outstanding feature of the manuscript, which is ripe for further development.

Waiata Telfer

Song—the story of a girl, a bird and a teapot

by Waiata Telfer

About the author

Waiata Telfer is of Narungga-Kaurna, Burmese and Anglo-Indian heritage. At a young age her creative and cultural leanings led her into dance with the prestigious NAISDA College and the AIDT Company in Sydney. While there she immersed herself in the cultural practice of telling story through dance. Continuing her work in the creative space, Waiata was awarded S.A. NAIDOC artist of the year for her role as Associate Director in the Adelaide Festival of Arts 2002. Most recently, this proud Nunga woman wrote, produced, and performed in her one-woman show, Song the story of a girl a bird and a teapot. This powerful play premiered at the Brisbane Powerhouse in 2015. She is currently focused on creative writing and works as a cultural educator, running workshops in schools whilst also delivering key note presentations at universities. She lives in Brisbane with her two daughters and is continually inspired by story and the power of language and Songlines revival.

Judges' comments

Song by Waiata Telfer is the script of a one-woman play which has been performed in Adelaide but not previously published, and demonstrates a real rising star of Black performance and potentially of writing also. Great content, good storytelling, and politically savvy.

Teila Watson

Destinations Past Present Future: Diving through Timelines

by Teila Watson

About the author

Teila Watson is a Birri Gubba and Kungalu Murri. Writer, poet, singer, and performer known as 'Ancestress'. Her art practice revolves around climate change, ecologically and social sustainability and therefore the importance of Land Rights and First Nations sovereignty. Currently in the process of recording her first album, Teila is known for her politically driven and provocative style of talking about world issues while relating back to her own experiences as a young Murri woman. @AncestressEra

Judges' comments

This collection is solidly grounded in Murri culture. It displays very strong political content and contains some interesting metaphors. The poet has a lot of promise, and a strong political position which could add a lot to Aboriginal writing.

Glendower Award for an Emerging Queensland Writer

Karen Herschell

fate, revenge and chipburgers

by Karen Herschell

About the author

Karen Herschell is a Brisbane-based writer and artist whose stories reflect her unapologetic fascination for the people and places that make Queensland unique. Employing a strong female protagonist in her submission, fate, revenge and chipburgers, both the overt and covert social and cultural mores of the Gold Coast in the 1970s are revealed—a breathtaking casual sexism and racism, and appalling attitudes towards violence, in particular to domestic violence. Karen, a past recipient of the One Book, Many Brisbanes short story award and the Queensland Institute for Educational Research (QIER) Award, has degrees in education and has been published in academic texts.

Judges' comments

This is a dark coming-of-age story with an unlikely hero—a shoplifting, pot-smoking high schooler, Debbie. With some brutally funny yet poignant scenes, fate, revenge and chipburgers follows the often difficult challenges Debbie faces as she confronts life on the Gold Coast during the 1980s and swears revenge on her unsuspecting high school teacher. The author cleverly evokes the casual racism, sexism and violence of the times in a voice that is raw, real, refreshingly original and impossible to ignore.

Laura Kenny

On Either Side

by Laura Kenny

About the author

Laura Kenny writes poetry and prose in a variety of forms, and likes to experiment and push boundaries in her work. She is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at QUT, and On Either Side has emerged from her practice-led research into the effects of childhood trauma on a character’s relationship with ‘home’. Laura was shortlisted for the 2016 Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize, and received a 2017 Varuna Residential Writer’s Fellowship. Her creative writing has been published in several journals, and she regularly reads her work in and around Brisbane, where she lives with her husband and assorted animals.

Judges' comments

On Either Side is a tender and delicate fictional portrayal of depression told from the twin perspectives of a mother and daughter relationship in the days leading up to a tragic flood and the consequences five years after the event. Told through shifting timeframes, the story is effectively revealed with literary references, metaphor, etymology, and introspection. On Either Side is a thoughtfully crafted exploration of connection, loss, and survival.

Melanie Myers

Garrison Town

Melanie Myers

About the author

Melanie Myers is a writer, academic and occasional actor. She is a graduate of QUT’s acting program and has a doctorate in Creative Writing from the University of the Sunshine Coast where she teaches Creative Writing. Her short fiction, articles, and features have been published in the Kill Your Darlings, Overland, Arena Magazine, Hecate, and various trade publications. She has been shortlisted for and/or won various literary awards including the Scarlet Stilettos, the S.D. Harvey, and the Lane Cove Literary Awards. She was Artistic Director of Reality Bites Nonfiction Festival from 2012–2014.

Judges' comments

Garrison Town is a polished, multi-layered narrative that reveals the simmering tensions in WWII Brisbane between visiting US soldiers and Australian troops. Told through the perspective of several female characters, it is a well-researched historical fiction that expertly weaves epistolary into a modern-day narrative. The author elegantly mirrors the challenges and limitations faced by wartime women with contemporary themes of violence and sexism.

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Christopher Przewloka

Hidebound

by Christopher Przewloka

About the author

Christopher Przewloka is a writer, teacher, and academic currently living in Brisbane, Australia. His work often focuses on politics, crime, and corruption, and has appeared in publications such as The Review of Australian Fiction and The Australian. His latest novel, Hidebound, is a terse, gritty, and oftentimes violent examination of Queensland police corruption during the 1980s. Described by award winning writer Michael Collins as ‘masterful genre work . ..masterful literary work’, Hidebound blurs fact and fiction to create an atmospheric literary crime story in the vein of Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore. @przewlokaauthor

Judges' comments

Hidebound is a literary crime mystery with a compelling and complex plot set against the backdrop of police corruption and union thuggery in Queensland during the 1980s. The author’s prose is honed, visceral, and descriptive, with well-developed characterisation and a heightened sense of place, which conjures cinematic imagery as separate narratives intersect towards an action-filled climax. Hidebound showcases impressive and polished writing of high quality.

State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection—Judith Wright Calanthe Award

click here for what we do

click here for what we do

by Pam Brown

Vagabond Press

About the book

click here for what we do is a cluster of four loosely connected poems that are not only sceptical of the status quo's serial mendacities and hype but, in a way, they also attempt a coming to terms with the erosion of the idealistic conditions that once made non-mainstream culture, including poetry, so viable and, even, necessary. For Pam Brown writing poetry is a habit, a disorganised ritual. Her poetic inventories begin in everyday bricolage. Real things interrupt the poems the same way thoughts and phrases do. She dismantles monumental intent and then, by mixing (rather than layering), splices the remains into a melange of imagery and thoughtful lyric. Hers is a friendly intelligence that clues in connections to the 'social' as the poems make political and personal associative links. Spurning any lofty design these poems debug the absurdities of contemporary materialism with surreptitious humour. Though disquiet is present it's usually temporary. Here, thinking about the future can be 'trickgensteinian' and yet Pam Brown's poems offer a circumspect optimism.

About the author

Pam Brown's many books of poetry include Text Thing, Authentic LocalHome by Dark, and Missing Up (the latter published by Vagabond Press in 2015). She has been writing, collaborating, editing, and publishing in diverse modes both locally and internationally for over four decades. Pam Brown's collection DearDeliria (Salt, 2003) received the annual New South Wales Premier's Award for poetry. She has earned a living in a range of occupations. Her website is located at pambrownbooks.blogspot.com.au. She lives in the perpetually reconstructing city of Sydney.

Judges' comments

This collection is a fine example of Pam Brown’s larger project, to write a poetry that maps the edges of thought, or—in her words—to think ‘what cannot / be thought’. click here for what we do brings a clarity and precision to language that refracts the everyday into a strangeness with which to examine what we thought we knew. Disjunctions between objects, and the words used to describe them, comingle into a delightful study of the paradox and power of poetry. Like ‘a shimmering mirage of flame’, the extended lengths of these poems, and their short, fragmented lines, suggest that the border between spoken language and poetry is a lot hazier than we might otherwise think. However, Brown’s tremendous skill ensures that, no matter how relaxed, the poems are at once comical, satirical and thoughtful; if the poetry feels ‘as ephemeral / as instagram / as a whisper / as a wink’ is it because Brown knows how to find the most innate structures of poetic expression. Leaving traces of disquiet through extended meditations and wry observation, this is a poetry of movement and stillness, a lived document examining contemporary life in real time, in all its banal glory.

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Chatelaine

Chatelaine

by Bonny Cassidy

Giramondo Publishing

About the book

Chatelaine is a collection of poems whose personae, like a family portrait, resemble one another in foxed, latent ways. Its voices stalk across time and space, inhabiting genres of riddle, fragment, confession, lyric, and ekphrasis, and returning to images of metamorphosis and possession. A chatelaine is the mistress of a castle or ancestral household, but in this collection’s elegant but unruly house mysterious transformations occur, dreams and hallucinations project strange apparitions and landscapes, words twist and turn, references to tradition go hand in hand with sci-fi special effects and cinematic staging. The place resounds with accusations and misgivings and scorn—and with playfulness and wilfulness and virtuosity too. And through these unsettled happenings, perhaps pointing to their source, the poems ask: who does this place belong to, and who will inherit it? Who lives here, and who comes as a visitor?

About the author

Bonny Cassidy is a poet, essayist, and critic, whose first collection, Certain Fathoms, was shortlisted for the 2012 Western Australian Premier’s Poetry Award. Her poetry has featured in anthologies including Young Poets (John Leonard Press), Contemporary Australian Poetry (Puncher & Wattmann), and Best Australian Poems (Black Inc). She is the recipient of an Asialink literary fellowship, a Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship, and the Australian Poetry Ireland Tour fellowship. Bonny founded Melbourne's Sporting Poets reading series and is the coordinator of the Melbourne Visiting Poets Program.

Judges' comments

Chatelaine consists of predominately short, hallucinatory confessions and portraits that stretch expression across dynamic, erotic zones ‘and grids of appetite’. Operating with multiple layers pressed tightly together, language in Chatelaine trembles with so much energy that it could at any moment disintegrate. With virtuosic skill, however, Cassidy’s poems feed on this energy, mutate within it, to emerge fecund with fresh syntax. With a lightly worn formality, these poems provide solid, organic ground, then playfully substitute the air. Consecutive images startle like apparitions seen in a mirror. The prosody and mouthfeel of the words are so precise that, although we may want to look behind to see how the poems work, we are content to stay this side and revel in their possibilities. There is something of the baroque in Cassidy’s dissatisfaction with worn, conventional phrasing, with her steady pursuit of the limits of language and perception. But the poet never loses control of such extravagance; always her investigations remain grounded in embodied, lyric encounters with a restless, unsettled world.

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I Love Poetry

I Love Poetry

by Michael Farrell

Giramondo Publishing

About the book

In I Love Poetry Michael Farrell continues to affirm poetry as a mode of thinking. His poems aspire to both memorability and meaning, and to invoke new Australian realities—‘the rhyme’s a moral that becomes a fence; a fallen-down fence is a joy forever'. The tone is playful and ironic, more under the skin of the mind than in its face. Poems like ‘Into a Bar’, in which Blue Poles and INXS entertain themselves with digital prune juice and a video burger, or ‘Cate Blanchett and the Dif cult Poem’, with the actor and Waleed Aly, add new dimensions to Australian icons. ‘Great Poet Snowdome’ is a story of kitsch involving Sydney and a pope—a recurring gure in the book, since he reappears as Pope Pinocchio, alongside the Professor of Milk and Sugar. There’s a Mad Max riff (‘Put Your Helmet On’); a One Direction revision (‘Drag Me Down’); and new appreciations of lyrebirds, kangaroos and chocolate frogs. There is Sid Vicious and there are lamingtons. There is everything that loves poetry: Weetbix, Iron Maiden T-shirts, motorbikes, and you.

About the author

Michael Farrell’s previous collections include living at the zode ode (shortlisted for the Age Poetry Book of the Year Award), BREAK ME OUCHa raiders guide (published by Giramondo in 2008), thempark, and thou sand. His second collection with Giramondo open sesame (2011) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award for Poetry. He was the winner of the 2012 Peter Porter Poetry Prize.

Judges' comments

One of the country’s foremost poets, Michael Farrell opens a door and invites the reader to step beyond the threshold of disbelief into a new and dazzling world. In I Love Poetry, his commitment to Australia as subject, and to poetry as a mode of thought, gains power with each fearless interrogation. Farrell remixes the Australian experience though a multiplicity of word play, bush poetic, irony, fragmented joy, and surprise cameos from Australian icons such as INXS and Waleed Aly. A truly inventive book, I Love Poetry brings a whole new dimension to Australian camp: extravagant, subversive, and hilarious, but also profound in its capacity to reimagine the terms with which we inhabit this complex continent. In the great tradition of queer Australian landscape poetics, like Patrick White, David Malouf, and Martin Harrison, Farrell recombines Australian ecology, history, and mythology into glorious, and very funky, new forms. But despite the book’s grand canvas, many of the poems feature a startling intimacy: the poet has become as open to the details of his self as he has always been to the currents and conjectures of pop culture, literature and philosophy; all is vibrant, viable material for this lyrebird of Australian poetry.

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The Honeymoon Stage

The Honeymoon Stage

by Oscar Schwartz

Giramondo Publishing

About the book

The Honeymoon Stage is a collection of poems written for friends on the internet over a five-year period. These friends were spread across the globe, and most of them the poet had never met, and will never know. Poetry was the method by which the correspondents felt they could authenticate themselves to one another, despite their separation in space, and their friendships being mediated through screens. The poems engage with the flattened syntax of internet language, registering its awkwardness while bringing human qualities to the centre of the exchange. They inhabit a surreal world marked by shifting identities and video-clip encounters, blog-like intimacies and strange scraps of information, discovering in this reality new ways of thinking and feeling.

About the author

Oscar Schwartz is a poet and researcher based in New York who is concerned with the intersection between technology and culture. His poetry has been published in Best Australian Poems, the AgeCordite, and international journals.

Judges' comments

This is an original, highly accessible and very funny debut collection written for/from the digital age. The Honeymoon Stage celebrates the emergence of a new linguistic regime, an English written hastily and frequently, and produced in unimaginable quantities, in emails, blogs, tweets, and texts. Across this flat, delocalised landscape, words combine into new, slightly disconcerting rhythms and, free of the structures of punctuation, subjects descend into a panoply of interactive objects. Within these machinic textures, Schwartz’s poems still burst with very familiar forms of yearning, nostalgia and fun. Inhabiting multiple personae, he plays with what it is/isn't to be human. The poems’ deft narrative structures require us to ask what happens next, to question what we are being told, to question the very world we live in. The Honeymoon Stage creates a reality that is both deadpan and strange beyond belief; this is post-internet poetry full of tenderness and hook, and the beginning of a weird and wonderful marriage.

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Lost Lake

Lost Lake

by Bella Li

Vagabond Press

About the book

Following on from the groundbreaking Argosy, Li's second collection Lost Lake ups the ante, taking the reader and literature alike into new reaches and realms of the imagination. Lost Lake, which exhibits Li’s distinctive use of text and image, consists of eight extended sequences of poetry, collage, and photography, drawing on sources ranging from Dante’s Inferno and Steve Reich’s Different Trains, to Woman's Day magazines and the archives of artist and autodidact Joseph Cornell. Through the eight sequences of Lost Lake, geography and music, history and architecture, works of art and literature, encounter each other in striking and unexpected ways, generating new hybrid objects. Lost Lake disassembles boundaries and challenges expectations of what a work of literature can be—its alchemy blooms in the spaces between eras, genres and forms.

About the author

Bella Li is the author of Argosy (Vagabond Press, 2017), which was commended in the 2017 Wesley Michel Wright Prize, highly commended in the 2017 Anne Elder Award, and won the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry and the 2018 Kenneth Slessor Prize. Her work has been published in a range of journals and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems and The Kenyon Review, and displayed at the George Paton Gallery and in the Triennial of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Judges' comments

Lost Lake is a lush hybrid of prose poetry, collage and photography, forming what is one of the most beautifully produced poetry titles of recent times. Expansive and imaginative, Li challenges the possibilities of the medium; Lost Lake is an adventure in form, where the book’s design is as poetic as the text it contains. A poetic travelogue of sorts, the book journeys constantly between the poetic and the visual in a narrative that takes on and repurposes the tropes of colonial exploration in order to tell a different, multi-valent story. There are funfairs, hothouses, and green houses. There are lost lakes. Li’s prose poems bely their slick forms; the voice is assured and sophisticated, even though many sentences are charged fragments from her source texts. Hovering underneath text and image alike is a devotion to what has been lost, to its recovery through expansion into the surreal. Positioned at the interstices of the subliminal and the known, the work reveals absences in time and space that soon we long to inhabit.

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