June Shenfield Poetry Award + 2019 writing recap

ACT Writing and Publishing Awards Night

As 2019 draws to a close, it seems fitting to write about a few recent happenings as well as reflect on the year as a whole.

The photo above was taken at the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards Night. My poem ‘Keeping My Wits About Me’ was one of two highly commended/runner-up pieces in the June Shenfield Poetry Award, a national prize for original poetry. Being commended for my poem was extremely encouraging and a wonderful surprise – a great way to end the year! I am now looking into journals where I might be able to place the poem, and look forward to sharing it in 2020.

I’ve really enjoyed becoming more involved in my local writing community this year – including the ACT Writers Centre, which hosted the awards night – and am continually impressed by how many talented creative people, with varied practices, live in my local region. The best part is that the community is also very welcoming. Over the past year, I’ve loved getting to know local artists better and have benefited greatly from the networks and events they’ve organised. I’ve also enjoyed giving back in my own small way by organising the Canberra Writing Anthology Project through Cicerone Journal, the publication I co-manage.

So on the basis of these positive experiences, if anyone reading this is considering getting involved in their local writing community, I’d strongly recommend giving it a go. Who knows – it could be a stand-out decision for your 2020!

As for recapping the rest of my own year (at least in terms of my writing): over the past 12 months, I have written about photography exhibitions, overlooked books, climate change, language evolution, puppet theatre, food and culture, family illness, speechwriting, millions of fish, collective nouns, sacrilegious cartoons, mothers and daughters, found poetry, Kafka, the challenges of adaptation, universities and the arts, how cats resemble coworkers (and vice versa), and plenty more. I’ve had non-fiction, essays, reviews, poetry, and satire published, both in print and online. I’ve also been invited to participate as a featured artist in the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the National Young Writers’ Festival, and the Digital Writers’ Festival. Further details about all of this writing and speaking can be found here and here.

As ever, I’m extremely grateful to all the editors who’ve commissioned my work, to the readers who have engaged with it, and to the mentors and cherished people (in particular Sue, Nancy, ChloĆ«, and my very precious Ellen) who have listened to ideas and frequently offered excellent insights and suggestions. I’m lucky to have so many smart and generous people in my life.

Despite being a professional speechwriter by day, however, I did not set out to write an Oscar speech here, so I’ll wrap this up now! 2019 has been a year of ups and downs on a global scale – not least here in Australia, where summer is proving even scarier and more on fire than usual – but I’m grateful for the opportunities the year has brought on a personal scale. Looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings.