Boroondara Literary Awards

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Boroondara Literary Awards 2016

Entries for the 2017 Awards open 9am, Monday 1 May.

Entries close 5pm, Friday 25 August 2017.

For more information see the headings below or contact the Literary Awards Coordinator on 9278 4036 or email.You can also find us on Twitter.


+ Winners Boroondara Literary Awards 2016

Open Short Story Competition

Place Name Title  From
First Janet Lee The Shepherd QLD
Second Susi Fox Premium Brand VIC
Third Kate Ryan Love Letters VIC
Highly Commended Penny Gibson At the Bend in the Road VIC
Highly Commended Robyn Butler Black Cockatoos VIC
Highly Commended Andrew Drummond A Stand of Trees VIC
Highly Commended Emma Cayley Bearings VIC

Keith Carroll Award for Best Boroondara Entrant

Place Name Title From
First Emma Cayley Bearings Hawthorn

Young Writers' Competition 

Young Writers' Junior Prose

Place Student Title School
First Angelina Liu Some Day Boroondara Park Primary School
Second Tamanna Bharani Is it Spring Yet? Balwyn Primary School
Third Natalie Chung Predator Deepdene Primary School
Highly Commended Mia Kagiaros Our Secret Boroondara Park Primary School
Highly Commended Finnan Hanney The Llamas of Brunswick Street Auburn Primary School
Highly Commended Alice Heath One Day Methodist Ladies' College

Young Writers' Middle Prose

Place Student Title School
First Melanie Clarke Ocean Eyes Ruyton Girls' School
Second Joseph Hourigan Backyard Adventure Xavier College
Third Charlotte Miles Broken Wings Balwyn High School
Highly Commended Pippa Angliss Emerald Memories Ruyton Girls' School
Highly Commended Amber Wraith The Smuggler Ruyton Girls' School
Highly Commended Charly Oakley The Man on Glenferrie Ruyton Girls' School
Highly Commended Patrick Whelen Leap Camberwell High School
Highly Commended Billy Harris The Peculiar Adventures of a Cat (Meow) Kew High School
Highly Commended Charlotte Hall Emerald-coloured Greed Ruyton Girls' School

Young Writers' Senior Prose

Place Student Title School
First Catherine Zhou Breakfast Balwyn High School
Second Rachelle Papantuono A Star to Keep Ruyton Girls' School
Third Annie Zhang Witness Camberwell Girls' Grammar School
Highly Commended Carlo Ikin-Blackett Meta Story Carey Baptist Grammar School
Highly Commended Meredyth Lee Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned Fintona Girls' School
Highly Commended Benjamin Parker Refugee Girl Camberwell High School
Highly Commended Sara Doan Lost Innocence Balwyn High School

Young Writers' Junior Poetry

Place Student Title School
First Isobel Gilbert I Come From Kew Primary School
Second Jacquie Crock Life by the Bonfire Genazzano FCJ College
Third Madeline Walling What I Would Give to Dance Once More St Dominic's Primary School
Highly Commended Mia Andrewes Iron Tears Ruyton Girls' School

Young Writers' Middle Poetry

Place Student Title School
First Olivia Johnson The Aids of the Wanderers Fintona Girls' School
Second Lara White Sunday Worship Boroondara Resident
Third Ria Sharma Clair de Lune Balwyn High School
Highly Commended Aleen Dhaliwal Depiction Fintona Girls' School

Young Writers' Senior Poetry

Place Student Title School
First Samuel Hughes Our Mother Carey Baptist Grammar School
Second Cindy Jiang Viral Camberwell Girls' Grammar School
Third Samuel Hughes Travel Torn Hearts Carey Baptist Grammar School
Highly Commended Kirsten Tsan Soft Methodist Ladies' College

Judges' Reports Boroondara Literary Awards 2016 

Open Short Story - Eliza Henry-Jones


Eliza’s debut novel In the Quiet was published in 2015 as part of a three-book deal with HarperCollins Australia.

In the Quiet has been shortlisted for the 2015 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and the 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and long listed for the 2016 Indie Book Awards and 2016 ABIA Awards.

Eliza’s fiction has been published widely, appearing in publications such as Southerly, Island and Award Winning Australian Writing. Her second novel will be out in 2017. 

Eliza's Report

This year, there were 388 entries in the Boroondara Literary Awards Open Short Story section. I was captivated by the breadth of themes the entries explored. From fairies and ghosts, to time travel and beautiful, nuanced realism.  There was a rich vein of historical fiction and voices that ranged from ghosts to children to elderly men.

Choosing a shortlist and then a winner from so many wonderful and varied stories was an immensely difficult task. While there are elements to any story that can be judged with relative objectivity, short fiction will always be overwhelmingly subjective. In the end, if you asked 10 people to pick their favourite stories from the stories I was given, you’d likely get 10 different answers. And this is what’s so magical about fiction—its ability to morph and mean different things to different people.

I know what it’s like to win a writing competition and I also know the disappointment when you don’t. But what is truly wonderful is the number of people who did not only dream up a story, but took the time to write it down, to edit it and to enter it into this competition. In a world where every second person I meet seems to lament their inability to write down the stories inside of them, getting these slippery creatures down on paper and sending them off is something to celebrate in itself. To the wonderful writers who didn’t place in this competition, please take heart. There were many extraordinary stories that I simply did not have the room to mention. Likewise, to those of you who have placed, congratulations. Enjoy this moment—writing is nothing if not a rollercoaster, shifting constantly from recognition to long silences. And this doesn’t disappear once you get published.

Lastly, to everyone who entered—a heartfelt thank you. It’s an incredibly brave thing to send a story out to be read by anyone, let alone a stranger, and let alone a competition judge. It has been a real privilege to be drawn into so many beautiful, challenging and thought provoking worlds. Thank you. 

Young Writers’ Prose - Jane Godwin    


Jane Godwin is a publisher, and also the highly acclaimed author of over twenty books for children, across all styles and ages. Her work is published internationally and she has received many commendations.

Jane and illustrator Anna Walker have collaborated to create five bestselling picture books.

In her role as publisher, Jane has worked with Alison Lester, Graeme Base, Anna Walker, Paul Jennings, Ursula Dubosarsky, Terry Denton, Andrew Joyner, Margaret Wild, Marc Martin and many more. Along with her friend Davina Bell, Jane is the creator of Our Australian Girl, a highly successful series of quality historical fiction for middle readers.

Most of Jane’s waking hours are dedicated to pursuing quality and enriching reading and writing experiences for young people, whether it’s as a writer, a publisher or a speaker/facilitator in schools.

Jane's Report

It was a little daunting to come home one day and find nearly 500 entries sitting in Express Post bags at my front door, but when I got started I really enjoyed the experience of reading the prose entries from young writers. It was a privilege to step inside the head of each creator and observe an aspect of the world through his or her eyes.

Some common themes emerged—stories of young people dealing with a grandparent’s dementia, stories of friendship issues and bullying, refugee stories and tales of conflict and war, and quite a lot of comas and car accidents! Within these broad themes there was some very mature, authentic and original writing, and writing that clearly came from the heart.

Some writers showed strength in the story idea, others depicted characters that felt very real, and others used descriptive language in original and memorable ways. Well done to all the writers for submitting your piece of work. The standard was high, and it was hard to pick the winners! But that was my job, so here they are.

Young Writers’ Poetry - Emilie Zoey Baker                                                                                                                                                                                              

Emilie was the judge for this category last year and we were excited to have her return this year.

Emilie is a published award winning poet and slam champion. She has performed poetry all around the world, and is the winner of the 2010 Berlin International Literature Festival’s Slam!Review. She teaches poetry in both primary and high schools and co-founded OutLoud, the first Australian teen team slam as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. She has featured at Women Of Letters, Ted, The Sydney Writers Festival, The Melbourne International Arts Festival, as well as the Bowery in NYC and The Green Mill in Chicago.

Emilie's Report

It was again an honour to read the poetry entries for the 2016 Boroondara Literary Awards.There was some wonderful expression in the entries, a few surprises, a little humour and lots ofheart. I read the selection as a punter, not as a poet or a teacher but as someone who wanted to be moved, challenged, delighted and excited by words on the page. I didn’t want to solely focus on what was technically outstanding, or what followed a perfect structure, but rather I asked if the poem invited me in. Was it interesting? Did it make me think or feel anything?

The entries that stood out for me were those that presented a freshness of expression, rather than relying on cliché or forced rhyme. I looked for poets that had a vision they wanted to share, and had found the way to draw the reader in.

There were several entries that grabbed my attention straight away, and those are the ones that invited a re-read and became a shortlist. They were poems that experimented with form, structure and language, poems that demonstrated a clear connection to the reader, and those that made something happen on the page.

I was surprised by how many poems in all age categories used archaic English, in what seems to be a reach for a poetic voice. Most of these don’t read gracefully. Unless there’s a strong justification, regarding form or a knowing use, I’d advocate resisting language like thou, doth and alas where possible, particularly if a poem is trying to communicate directly to a modern reader. These words don’t automatically add poetic weight or enhance meaning, and
they can be simply distracting, as they draw too much attention to themselves. Yea verily, one should consider twicefold before composing archaic verse. The poets that stood out resisted hyperbole, let the poems explain themselves, attracted study and created imagery. They observed a scene, which in turn we experience as readers. Something that can be felt and remembered. Theirs are the works that stay with you.  

+ About the Boroondara Literary Awards

Founded in 1999, the Boroondara Literary Awards is a partnership between the Rotary Club of Balwyn and the City of Boroondara.

The Awards offer the chance to receive cash prizes in two sections. A prize pool of over $5000 is available across various age groups in the Young Writers’ section, with over $3500 available in the Open Short Story section.

Winning entries are published in the Boroondara Literary Awards Anthology. The 2016 Anthology and back issues are available to borrow or buy from your local Boroondara Library branch.

+ Entry categories 2016

Open Short Story Competition

An open-themed short story competition that is open to all Australian residents.

Word length between 1,500 and 3,000 words.


First Place $1500; Second Place $1000; Third Place $500

Keith Carroll Award

$500 prize to the best entry from a Boroondara resident.

Young Writers’ Competition

For young people who live, work or study in Boroondara.


Open to young people in school Years 5 and 6.

Prose length between 300 and 500 words.
Poetry length must be less than 100 lines.


Prose: First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50
Poetry: First Place $150; Second Place $100; Third Place $50


Open to young people in school Years 7, 8 and 9.

Prose length between 500 and 900 words.
Poetry length must be less than 200 lines.


Prose: First Place $600; Second Place $400; Third Place $200
Poetry: First Place $600; Second Place $400; Third Place $200


Open to young people in school Years 10, 11 and 12. Also open to young people not in secondary school, aged 15 to 18 years old as of 1 January 2016.

Prose length between 900 and 1,300 words.
Poetry length must be less than 200 lines.


Prose: First Place $600; Second Place $400; Third Place $200
Poetry: First Place $600; Second Place $400; Third Place $200

+ How to enter

Entry is free! All entries must be submitted online at the links below.

Open Short Story Entry Form

Young Writers’ Competition Entry Form

Remember to:

  • number and title each page
  • stay within the word limit
  • keep a copy of your entry
  • do not include your name and address anywhere on your entry document.

Winners will be announced in November 2016.

Terms and Conditions of Entry

  • Entries must be received by 5pm, Friday 26 August 2016.
  • Entries must be the original work of the entrant.
  • Entries must be unpublished at the time of submission and remain unpublished until after the Awards ceremony at the end of November 2016.
  • Authors may enter a maximum of two pieces in their competition.
  • Past prize-winning works in the Boroondara Literary Awards may not be resubmitted.
  • Any entry that does not adhere to the word limit is ineligible.
  • All entrants must reside in Australia.
  • The City of Boroondara and the Rotary Club of Balwyn reserve the right to retain, publish and sell copies of the Boroondara Literary Awards annual anthology, containing the winning and highly commended entries, as well as publish them on the City of Boroondara website.
  • Any story that includes strong language or adult themes may not be included in the anthology.
  • Copyright remains with the author, with permission to publish winning and highly commended entries in the Boroondara Literary Awards annual anthology and the City of Boroondara website.
  • The judges reserve the right not to award a prize in a category if they deem no entry is of sufficient merit to warrant the prize.
  • The judges' decisions will be final. No correspondence will be entered into.
  • Employees of the City of Boroondara and members of the Rotary Club of Balwyn, as well as members of their immediate families, are not eligible to enter the competition.
  • Failure to meet any of the conditions will render entries ineligible.
  • All entries will be accepted at the discretion of the Boroondara Literary Awards Committee, which will exercise its judgement in ruling on questions of eligibility. The ruling of the Committee on questions of eligibility is final, and no further correspondence will be entered into.

Winning Entries in Print

Each year an anthology of winning entries, together with judges’ comments, is published. Winning entries in 2016 will be published in the Boroondara Literary Awards Anthology 2016.

Copies of the Boroondara Literary Awards Anthology 2015 are available for purchase or to borrow from the Boroondara Library Service.

Entrants who win, or are highly commended in the Boroondara Literary Awards 2016, will receive a complimentary copy of the 2016 anthology.

+ Buy a comfortable chair! or, 'tips for writing'

Our judges for the Boroondara Literary Awards 2016 have just sent some pretty good tips for all you writers busily preparing your sparkling story or poem for this year’s competition.                Painting of a writer

Emilie Zoey Baker:

Read over your work, does it have any clichés? If so, delete! Try to think of an original way to reword the line. Make it sparkle.

Eliza Henry-Jones:

Love what you write; be fascinated and consumed by it. If you’re not, how can you expect readers to be?

Sit down and write. Write badly, write too quickly, write too slowly. Write bad dialogue and dense descriptions and clichéd scenes. Because with each word you type, you’re honing your craft. You’re learning. You’re growing. Writing as much as you can is the only way to become a better writer.

Buy a comfortable chair.

Jane Godwin:


The more you read, the more you are immersing yourself in language, and learning about how other writers use language and tell stories. Reading will always make you a better writer, even when you’re not aware that it’s happening.

Enter competitions/submit your work to magazines

This will help you polish your work.  A big part of writing is re-writing, and if you are entering work in a competition or submitting it to a school magazine or something similar, then you will be more likely to work on it for longer, and do that extra draft.  There is so much to think about when you write, and nobody can get everything right in just one or two drafts.  You need to think about the structure of the story, the plot, the themes and ideas that you’re exploring, the characters, and the language you’re using to tell your story.  It’s a lot to keep in your head all at once!

Explore the world, keeping your eyes and ears open

Experiences are what provide material for writing.  Make the most of opportunities offered to you.  When you take on new experiences, it can be daunting, and you won’t always have a great time.  But as I always say to myself when given the opportunity for a new experience, ‘You’ll have either a good time or a story to tell.’  And it usually ends up being a combination of both.

Don’t give up

Most writers take years and years before they have any kind of material or commercial success.  If you feel compelled to write, if it feels in some way that this is what you should be doing, then just do it!  And keep doing it.  Don’t worry too much about whether you’ll win the competition, or get an A+ for your creative writing piece, or get into a creative writing course at university – just write.

Try to write regularly

Just as with any other pursuit, you’ll get better at writing with practice.

Keep a journal

I don’t mean a diary (although keeping a diary is a great thing to do if you want to!), but more a book of ideas, thoughts, ramblings etc.  Ideas can be slippery and you can lose them – if you write them down in a journal then you’ll always know where they are.

Write what interests you

Some people give the advice, ‘write what you know’.  I put it this way:  write what interests you.  We often explore ideas (and why those ideas are fascinating or interesting to us) through the act of writing about them.  I think it’s ultimately rewarding to write about something that really interests or fascinates you, something that for some reason has captured your imagination, even if you don’t really understand why.  And if you don’t know all about it then that’s fine, you can discover more about it by exploring it through writing.


Experiment with voice, with different styles of writing, with different types of characters, and with the approach you’re taking.  One thing I’ve learnt from being a publisher for many years is that there is no correct or incorrect way to write a story.  Some writers plan their stories beforehand, some writers just think for a long time before starting a story, some writers do no planning at all and just see where the ideas will take them by writing the story.  It’s important to work out the way it works best for you as an individual writer to tell the stories you want to tell. Some young writers have one approach when there is a time limit or it’s for a school test etc, and a more relaxed way to write when it’s just for enjoyment.

Share your work with one or two people

It’s really helpful to be able to share your work with a couple of trusted people.  They might be friends, or family members, or you might be lucky enough to have a mentor or teacher who has taken an interest in your work.  It’s important not to share your work too early, as you can become confused with advice if you haven’t got your story to the point where you really understand what you’re doing with it.  I also believe that it’s not helpful to share it with too many people as multiple opinions and too much feedback can just serve to overwhelm you.

Enjoy it if you can!

Like many activities, writing can sometimes be really fun and sometimes it feels like a hard slog. This is the same for all writers.  So when you feel excited about something you’re writing, or a story is going well, make sure you enjoy it and give yourself a pat on the back!

Happy writing!

+ Books to make your writing sing

We have selected some books to inspire, enlighten, empower, invigorate, and excite you for your writing adventure.

How to be a writer: who smashes deadlines, crushes editors and lives in a solid gold hovercraft by John Birmingham.

The Creativity challenge: design, experiment, test, innovate, build, create, inspire, and unleash your genius by Tanner Christensen.

Breakthrough!: 100 proven strategies to spark your imagination by Alex Cornell.

Use your words: a myth-busting, no-fear approach to writing by Catherine Deveny.

A word a day: a romp through some of the most unusual and intriguing words in English by Anu Garg.

Big magic: creative living beyond fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Writing down the bones: freeing the writer within by Natalie Goldberg.

How to think like an artist…and lead a more creative, productive life by Will Gompertz.

On being stuck: tapping into the creative power of writer's block by Laraine Herring.

Poems that make grown women cry : 100 women on the words that move them by Anthony and Ben Holden.

Steal like an artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative by Austin Kleon.

Show your work: 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered by Austin Kleon.

Conscious writing: discover your true voice through mindfulness and more by Julia McCutchen.

Reacher said nothing: Lee Child and the making of Make Me by Andy Martin.

Art of language invention: from Horse-Lords to Dark Elves, the words behind world-building by David J. Peterson.

Lost in translation: an illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world by Ella Frances Sanders.

A cure for the common word: remedy your tired vocabulary with 3000+ vibrant alternatives to the most overused words by K. D. Sullivan.

Let the elephants run: unlock your creativity and change everything by David Usher.

No two persons ever read the same book: quotes on books, reading and writing by Bart Van Aken.

How to sound really clever: 600 words you need to know by Hubert van den Berg.

Courage to be creative: how to believe in yourself, your dreams and ideas, and your creative career path by Doreen Virtue.

The kick ass writer: 1001 ways to write great fiction, get published and earn your audience by Chuck Wendig.

The nearest thing to life by James Wood.

+ Judges for 2016

Open Short Story - Eliza Henry-Jones 


Eliza’s debut novel In the Quiet was published in 2015 as part of a three-book deal with HarperCollins Australia.

In the Quiet has been shortlisted for the 2015 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and the 2016 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and long listed for the 2016 Indie Book Awards and 2016 ABIA Awards.

Eliza’s fiction has been published widely, appearing in publications such as Southerly, Island and Award Winning Australian Writing. Her second novel will be out in 2017. 

Young Writers’ Prose - Jane Godwin