Shortlist announced for Dorothy Hewett Award 2021

28/04/2021 | 4 mins

UWA Publishing, in partnership with The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, has announced the shortlist for the 2021 Dorothy Hewett Award for an unpublished manuscript.

The judging panel has selected the following works: After Life by Kathryn Lomer, Hopeless Kingdom by Kgshak Akec, Best of Both Worlds by Bronwyn Lovell, Strangest Places by Joshua Kemp, The Approval of Trees by Erica Woolgar and Anchor Watch by Madeleine Dale.

This year, the Award received more than 350 submissions from all over Australia. The judges noted the considerable talent within the shortlisted titles, and the range of form and genre represented in the six manuscripts. 

More information on the award, the shortlisted entries and the judges can be found on the UWA Publishing website. 

The winner of the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript will receive a cash prize of $10,000, as well as manuscript development and a publishing contract with UWA Publishing.

The winner of this year’s Award will be announced next month. The 2020 Award winner was Karen Wyld’s debut novel, Where the Fruit Falls, which was released last October. The inaugural winner, Extinctions by Josephine Wilson, went on to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2017. UWA Publishing thanks the Copyright Agency for its ongoing support for the Dorothy Hewett Award and wishes all shortlisted writers the best of luck.

Judges’ comments

After Life by Kathryn Lomer
Even the titles thrum, so that the index reads like a suite of small poems. Kathryn Lomer’s is a house with many rooms, Wunderkammers all, filled with curious objects drawn from the worlds of art, science, nature, love, life, death… everything. Supple lines and sensitive rhythms make surprising conjunctions, often leading us from the smallest detail of a beloved’s body to an erotics of the cosmos. Lomer’s music shows us what it means to live a life of poetry. 

Hopeless Kingdom by Kgshak Akec 
Akec’s coming of age story is a powerful and timely exploration of belonging, race, gender and migration that follows a family from Sudan to Geelong via Cairo and Sydney. Akec contrasts the lives of the women in this family through form and language, conjuring a powerful refraction of the experiences of African Australian women. Her storytelling is deeply personal as well as relatable and insightful. Akec is an exciting new voice in the Australian writing scene. 

Best of Both Worlds by Bronwyn Lovell 
The Best of Both Worlds is a beautiful, comprehensive and multifaceted verse novel that takes the reader on a journey from a muddled Earth into space and to Mars. This fresh and engaging look at humanity’s future after social and environmental destruction is littered with beautifully phrased and deeply flawed characters who are impossible not to love. Lovell’s writing is an ode to life and connection, and a genuine delight to read. 

Strangest Places by Joshua Kemp 
Joshua Kemp’s Strangest Places is a taut modern Western Australian western. Moral complexity and personal failure haunt its spare landscapes. Kemp’s book is a frontier novel that captures the problematic quality of settler Australia. It shares some of the lyrical power and gothic splendour of Cormac McCarthy’s border trilogy. But it also seems, in its eye for detail and ear for vernacular Australian speech, firmly in the tradition of Randolph Stow and Tim Winton. 

The Approval of Trees by Erica Woolgar 
The Approval of Trees explores a family mystery through interweaving journeys into the landscape. History is told and retold revealing layers of belonging, and loss, and questions of ownership. The beauty of this book is that the darkness is mirrored in the wonder of the living land, in books, in literature and in music, told without heaviness, and shot through with friendship and love. 

Anchor Watch by Madeleine Dale 
The poems in Madeleine Dale’s Anchor Watch transpire on a shoreline where powerful forces meet. It is a poetry in which the ocean exists as an implacable enigma. A poetry of shipwrecks, flotsam, and uncertain horizons. On the one hand, there is a coastal gothic quality to these poems, as if the events and people are from another century. But in other ways, they speak directly into the Anthropocene present and give an uncanny shape to extinctions and the collapse of oceanic systems. 

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