Judge’s Report from the Boroondara Literary Awards

Hawthorn Town Hall Chandelier Room
Thursday 16 November at 6.00pm for 6.30pm start

6.00pm VIPs, Speakers and guests arrive – refreshments available

6.28pm MC requests people to be seated and thanks musician from Eisteddfod

6.30pm Welcome by the Mayor 5 mins

6.35pm MC gives opening “warm up” piece 10 mins
and introduces President of Rotary, Mr. Hugh Trumble

6.45pm Hugh Trumble speaks. 5 mins

6.50pm MC introduces David Prater, judge of the Youth Prose
sections of the Young Writers Awards. 0 mins

6.50+pm David speaks/reads from report and presents winners
of the Senior and Junior Youth Prose awards 10mins

7.00pm MC introduces Alicia Sometimes, judge of the Junior and Senior
Poetry sections of the Young Writers Awards. 0 mins

7.00+pm Alicia speaks/reads from report and then announces
the winners of the Junior Poetry and Senior Poetry,
with presentations. 10 mins

7.10pm MC introduces Paddy O’Reilly, judge of Open Short
Story Award. 0 mins

7.10+pm Paddy speaks/reads from report and then announces
the winners of the Open Short Story Award, with presentations. 10 mins

7.20pm MC thanks everybody and reminds the audience of the details for the launch of the 2005 Anthology in May 2006, when a reading of the winning entries will take place. First place winners will be published in the summer editions of the Progress Leader. 5 mins

7.30pm Photo calls as required.

7.30pm Close (refreshments available until 7.55pm)BOROONDARA LITERARY AWARDS



I judged the stories in both sections according to three criteria: originality, expression and voice. Briefly, the first of these criteria, “originality”, refers not to being completely original in every way, but rather approaching familiar themes from an original angle, or using an unique perspective. “Expression” refers to the writer’s confidence in using the English language to convey emotion, suspense, humour and narrative. “Voice” refers to the narrative point of view, and the use of dialogue in a way that is realistic or evocative. While there are obviously more components to a story than these, I was looking for stories that fulfilled these three criteria in particular.


Overall the standard of entries in this category was very high, and I greatly enjoyed reading the stories submitted. Their subject matter ranged over a variety of topics and it was intriguing to see that issues making headlines in the press and widely discussed in the community – issues such as war, immigration, crime, family breakdown, the environment – are all present here in these stories. Which is not to say that they are filled with a grim desperation or a maudlin tone – rather, that it is from our everyday experiences and from our communities that all stories come, no matter who their author.

1st: #8 “Tears”

This story impressed me with its subtlety and careful repetition of a central phrase. Its language is richly descriptive and its tone is sympathetic, making it a standout entry amongst a field containing many stories of war.

2nd: #12 “The Man Who Changed the World”

The humour in this piece is refreshing, but it has an edge. Utilising irony and a deceptively simple storytelling tone, the piece is a sobering reflection on our obsessions with stardom and wealth in a world where poverty is a real fact.

3rd: #50 “Forgive”

There were a lot of stories about people on streets, city life and relationships but for me, this story with its very simple chance encounter was both touching and well-controlled. Above all, the story offers hope in a confusing world.

In addition to these three winners, I would like to present commendations to the authors of #3 “A Place Called Home”, for its gentle and controlled examination of intolerance and difference, and #159 “The Bangle”, a delightful story about three generations of women.

Overall the standard of entries in this category was not as high as in the junior section, with a significant number of entries written on the same theme, or using the same basic premise. This made it difficult to judge these stories on the basis or originality. Despite this, I was pleased with the quality of a number of entries that showed narrative sophistication and avoided the use of cliché. In general the stories were denser and more descriptive, with less evidence of humour or adventurousness in the writing. For this reason, I chose not to award commendations in this section. However, the winners are:

1st: #23 “Gone Fishing”

Ostensibly a murder mystery, this story stood out for me because of its ability to say so much in a very subtle way. Right up to its ambiguous conclusion, the story grows more eerie and disturbing. Its domestic setting only adds to the impact.

2nd: #43 “The Crow In Me”

The unique perspective of the main character really worked well for me in this story, which deals with issues of family and loss in an original way. Its denseness creates a meditative effect, and the overall sentiment is complex and human.

3rd: #74 “Sanctuary”

This slightly-strange story appealed to me because of the voice of the narrator, whose internal monologue suits the late night feel of the piece. It’s quirky and unassuming, while managing to reflect on serious issues like responsibility and freedom.

Express yourself