The winners of the 2013 Wildcare Tasmania International Nature Writing Prize were announced on March 23 at The Lark as part of the Tasmanian Writers’ Festival.
The overall winner is:
Tanya Massy of Brunswick West, Victoria, for her piece entitled 'The Tree'.
The judges said of Tanya’s work:
This is an essay about how we know the world, and how we learn to care enough to make change. The author addresses the important subject of climate change, arguing that facts and scientific knowledge aren’t enough – that ‘heart’ knowing is equally, if not more, important. The writing is thought-provoking, tender and impassioned, displaying subtlety, humour, deep philosophical insights and deft changes of pace. The central metaphor of a child as a ‘blue-eyed laughing tree’ reminds us of other ways of thinking and being in the world that are vital if we are to survive.
Congratulations to Tanya, who receives $5 000, plus return airfares to Tasmania, a two week residency in a Tasmanian national park, and publication of her essay in both Island and Wildtimes. Tanya wasn’t able to attend the presentation, but is very much looking forward to coming to Tasmania for her wilderness writer’s residency later in 2013.
[Tasmania's Gordon River]
There are two minor awards. Each of these writers receives $250, and publication in Wildtimes and possibly Island magazine. They are:
Bruce Pascoe of Gipsy Point, Victoria, for 'Birthmark', and
John Bennett of Valla Beach, NSW, for 'How to Begin'.
Of Bruce Pascoe’s piece, ‘Birthmark’, the judges said:
This elegant and at times breathtaking writing responds to ‘a country that has always dreamed itself as one canvas’. Images of desert landscape seen from the air, both physically and astrally, are juxtaposed with insights into Aboriginal dreaming, and responses to particular paintings by Aboriginal artists. The author positions as an observer, a collector of images, insight and meaning. The writing presents a strong message without being didactic. Instead it offers stepping stones of ideas – the essay as dot painting.
Of John Bennett’s piece, ‘How to Begin?’, the judges said:
The title of the essay provides springboard to a reflection on mindfulness: how to begin a new year and new appreciation of this world with a precarious future? The journal form is strung together with quotations from other authors who wrote on parallel dates. The stream of consciousness writing style allows latitude for an erudite, provocative wander through ideas and environments, both intimate and broad-scale. The outcome proves the author’s claim that journal writing ‘becomes an exercise in interesting oneself’.
There are also two commended entries. They are:
Danae Bosler of Richmond, Victoria, for ‘Shack’, and
Noelene J. Kelly of Flemington, Victoria, for 'Geomorphology'.
Of Danae Bosler’s piece the judges said:
This deeply moving rite of passage story is about how we know the world as children and how that shifts as we grow older. Intimate observations are expressed with simplicity and exquisite clarity. The author shares with the reader an intrinsic awareness of nature and natural processes on a remote bush farm. ’Shack’ offers tightly crafted writing about what we lose and what we hold on to – how life changes and transforms.
Of Noelene Kelly’s work they said:
Survival and decay in the physical world becomes an analogy for human physicality and fragility in this accomplished essay. The strong and evocative writing invokes a vivid sense of place, both in Australia’s Alpine regions and in the domestic context. The author skilfully and effortlessly interweaves connections between human experience and geological time. The result is authoritative, controlled, intellectual and objective, and at the same time tender, often lyrical.
Many thanks to our judges, Adrienne Eberhard and Dael Alison, whose thoughtful and insightful reading of the entries is hugely appreciated. Special thanks also to our major sponsor, Wildcare Tasmania, who have been with the prize since its inception, ten years ago.
Thanks too to our other sponsors and helpers, including Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, The Freycinet Experience Walk, The Tasmanian Writers’ Centre, In Graphic Detail, and Island Magazine.
And finally thanks to all of those writers who cared enough about their relationship to nature to enter the prize. As I said on the night:
One small remedy to the overwhelming issues that face our world is to bear witness to the places we share with other life forms. This is one of the reasons for nature writing. Lest we forget where we belong.