The Darebin Mayor’s Writing Award

At a special event on Thursday 9 June, three prizes were awarded to local writers as part of the 2016 Darebin Mayor’s Writing Award. The theme of the 2016 Darebin Mayor’s Writing Award was ‘flash fiction’—short stories told in under 500 words. The award is for unpublished writing and encourages local writers to compose something new, as such generating new writing and fostering a generative, creative culture.

Mark Brandi was announced as the winner of the $2000 prize for his short story, Transport.

Two shortlisted writers were each awarded prizes of $500— Vashti Kenway for her story Hot Air, and Oliver Coulter for his story, Uncle Monti.

We congratulate the winners, and all 170 entrants to this local prize.

The 2016 Award was judged by a professional panel including writer and editor Louise Swinn; writer and producer Lefa Singleton-Norton; and award-winning author Wayne Macauley. The Judges’ comments are below. Click the titles to download the works as pdfs:


Judges’ Comments

Mark Brandi, Transport

Transport is an exquisite example of compressed storytelling. Each carefully chosen word and each beautifully crafted sentence builds character insight and adds narrative tension. An adult voice looks back to their ten-year-old self when, for the first time, a strange Italian man—Strange among our strangeness—is welcomed into the family home. The voice then takes us effortlessly forward, to the old man’s dying (Like a small bird, laid sideways on the bed¬), the narrator’s last moment with him (Pale eyes locked in some distant, serious concern) and his funeral In a dense, sticky moment before summer. With a minimum of words Transport opens a small window onto work, family and the migrant experience and does so with great tenderness and compassion.

Transport has been made into a Radio National Pocketdocs piece. Listen to an extended version of this story here.


Vashti Kenway, Hot Air

In Hot Air, Kenway immediately throws the reader into Abdul’s world with striking and image-laden prose. Although just a slice-of-life, it is a very atmospheric piece, so lucidly conjuring up a whole world from just a few pages. The writing is masterful—each word has been carefully selected and the author shows a genuine command of various writing techniques. Perhaps most strikingly, it is a very moving piece—the reader is forced to both think and feel, and by the end we have been taken on a comprehensive journey. We very much look forward to more work from Vashti Kenway.


Oliver Coulter, Uncle Monti

The drooping lights smiled on and off; blown-out bulbs like rotted teeth. It is Christmas, and from the first sentence Uncle Monti deftly pulls the reader into its domestic scene. A mother and her two daughters at home on Christmas Eve are finely drawn, they and their environment captured with striking imagery. Coulter shows a particular talent for dialogue, where each line reveals as much by what is left out as what is said. Uncle Monti displays that this writer is not only able to create a compelling story in short form, but flourishes in its limitations. The judges commend it as a piece of fiction where fragments linger in the mind long after it has been read.




Darebin City Council
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