The Hope Prize short story competition, exploring the theme of resilience in the face of poverty and disadvantage, is to be judged by actor Cate Blanchett, author Kate Grenville and former governor general Quentin Bryce.
The three leading women have lent their clout to the national writing competition, which they first came together to judge in 2016. The first prize winner is to be awarded $10,000, with the total pool for The Hope Prize reaching $17,500.
In a new initiative, two Women’s Writing Career Development Scholarships, valued at $5,000 each, will also be awarded. The Hope Prize is run by the anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and all cash prizes are supported by philanthropy.
The writing competition was established to encourage Australian writers to look beyond common stereotypes to investigate the experiences of people dealing with hardship, whose voices are rarely heard.
Brotherhood of St Laurence spokesperson Farah Farouque said the short story competition helped the Brotherhood reach new audiences and champions who shared the group’s goal for a compassionate and fair society.
“The success of the inaugural Hope Prize, with close to 1000 entries and strong sales for the Hope anthology of winning stories, demonstrates the power of storytelling in the community,’’ she said.
“We have too many pockets of poverty and disadvantage in our otherwise prosperous country, but we also know there is a strong narrative of hope and resilience in our community. We want to encourage talented writers to capture these nuanced stories of poverty and hardship and pierce stereotypes.’’
The three judges spoke highly of the short stories submitted in 2016 which tackled subjects such as homelessness, refugees, child poverty, loneliness and the challenges of daily life for families on low incomes.
Quentin Bryce said, “I admire the way the stories reveal the lives of people who so often go unnoticed in our society; stories filled with determination and human spirit about people who overcome the odds with courage and strength.”
Cate Blanchett said, “The finalists all revealed powerful perspectives on the world at large, and displayed unique, unpretentious and authentic voices.”
Kate Grenville said of the story which won the first Hope Prize, “The hope here isn’t that good things are going to happen, because they probably won’t. It’s that love is stronger than circumstance, and hope keeps love alive.”
As well as the $10,000 first prize, the competition includes $4000 for the second prize, $2000 for third prize and $250 each for highly commended stories. An award of $500 will also be made to an emerging writer under 18 years.
The two $5,000 Women’s Writing Career Development Scholarships will be awarded to recognise the many additional challenges women face in our community.
The short story entered for The Hope Prize can be fiction or fact. Whatever the genre, the story submitted must convey the experience of people facing hardship in their lives. The deadline for entry is 31 January, 2018. Stories submitted must be between 2000 and 5000 words.
The Hope Prize is made possible by the generosity of the late Prudence Myer and the support of her family, and the support of Simon & Schuster and leading independent book retailer Readings.
For further information on how to enter and competition rules see the Hope Prize page.
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