Writing prize announced

Vanessa Schernickau (CEO, Geelong Regional Library Corporation), Penne Thornton (Highly Commended), Carolyn Leach-Paholski (Winner), Hannah Duffus (Highly Commended) and Professor David McCooey (Deakin University). (Supplied)

Matt Hewson

Geelong Regional Libraries (GRLC) and Deakin University announced the winner of the 2024 Local Word Writing Prize last week.

Carolyn Leach-Paholski of Box Hill accepted the prize at the World Poetry Day celebration at The Dome on Thursday, March 21 for her work Hokusai in the Antipodes – Thirty-Six Love Letters to a Mountain.

The prize consists of $2000 cash and a one-hour mentoring session with the judging panel’s Professor David McCooey, personal chair of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, as well as publication and promotion of the work.

Ms Leach-Paholski said she was “really delighted and… so grateful” to Deakin and GRLC for supporting and valuing writers and readers.

Her entry, which drew inspiration from Japanese wood engraver Hosukai and his obsession with Mount Fuji, focuses on the You Yangs, examining the distinctive granite peaks from a variety of perspectives.

Prof McCooey praised Ms Leach-Paholski’s work, saying Deakin was proud to be involved with the prize.

“This year’s submissions brought together an extraordinary range of stories and styles,” he said.

“Many works dealt with the crises of everyday life, as well as shared crises such as the climate emergency, while others celebrated the pleasures that life has to offer.

“Hokusai in the Antipodes is a beautifully realised short story that brings together apparently disjunct things – the past and the present, Eastern and Western sensibilities – with powerful lyricism.”

Chief executive Vanessa Schernickau said GRLC was “overwhelmed” by both the number and standard of entries this year.

“We’re very proud of our Local Word Writing Prize for the sense of community it provides for writers and thank you to Deakin University for their continued support,” Ms Schernickau said.

“Thanks also to our judges and all the entrants, both local and from further afield… and a huge congratulations to this year’s overall winner, Carolyn Leach-Paholski.”