Great news: on Thursday, Rachel Smith, our talented fiction co-editor, won second place in the National Flash Fiction Day NZ competition for her story ‘When Winter Comes’. Judge Emma Neale describes it as ‘admirably spare prose with cool drops of simile’. Hm. I like that. Spare prose, simile only in cool drops. Writers, note both of those observations, and a big congratulations to Rachel.
takahē magazine is delighted to announce the winner of our inaugural essay competition 2017.
The team would like to thank all entrants for participating. We acknowledge the high standard of entrants and wish them well in their future endeavours.
It’s Not a Life by Robyn Maree Pickens
The winning essay will be published online in takahē 90
Highly commended: Canoeing to Jerusalem by James Ackhurst
Special mentions: License to Laugh by Emer Lyons, and Tūrangawaewae by Nadine Millar
Judge’s Report – Erin Harrington, Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of Canterbury and emeritus takahē Essays Editor:
This is the first time takahē has run an essay competition off this type, and it was interesting to note a few prevailing trends in the pieces submitted. Many entries were personal essays or works of memoir. Certain themes dominated, especially issues surrounding belonging, nationhood, whakapapa, history, memory, and identity. Some stayed quite close to home, while others looked further afield, offering intriguing perspectives on topics as varied as everyday items, crime and punishment, geology, and infrastructure. It was heartening, too, to see a genuine variety of perspectives, with Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, and immigrant points of view all present. This made for some very entertaining and enlightening reading.
The essays that most caught my eye were those that demonstrated a flair for language and prose, put forward a clear argument or point of view, and exhibited a degree of sophistication in the way that they explored their chosen topic. While many of the best retained a first-person perspective, they used this as a point of departure; they generally looked out, rather than in. In doing so, these essays were successful in exploring sometimes weighty and complex topics and ideas with a combination of thoughtfulness, wit and insight.
The winning essay, “It’s Not a Life”, starts with an anecdotal account of the author’s experiences in the sort of draughty, damp, mouldy houses that characterise New Zealand’s shameful housing stock, and then uses this as context for a perceptive account of power, poverty and art. This is a well-considered and detailed essay that demonstrates a flair for language and a dry sense of humour. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
While there is only space for one winning essay, I would also like to particularly congratulate the authors of three other essays: “Canoeing to Jerusalem”, a piece about James K. Baxter, poetry, and national literatures; “Licence to Laugh”, which interrogates sexism and the representation of women (and men cross-dressing as women) in theatre, comedy and television; and “Tūrangawaewae”, which explores the importance of stories and storytelling in our personal and national histories.
I appreciate the efforts of all those who entered work. Ngā mihi nui.
The essay competition is now closed.
A huge thank you to all the entrants and all the very best for the competition.
Results will be published online in April 2017.
The winning essay will be published in our online issue (takahē 90) in August 2017.
All entries will be considered for future publication, and will be notified by 1 May 2017.
Take care, keep safe, keep writing and keep reading (especially our blogs!)
Sun shining, birds singing, and keyboards clattering.
Nineteen sleeps to go.
Plenty of time to spit and polish.
Winner gets the money ($250) and publication, not to mention – glory. What a brilliant start to the new year.
Made any writing resolutions? Not too late!
Sharing from my own extensive list: finish what I start; try something new; challenge myself to write out of the comfort zone, be brave.
There are more but I don’t want to overload.
Looking forward to opening all the essay entries – it will be like Christmas all over again (without the expensive and heart-burn). You don’t have to restrict yourself to one entry.
Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from the Competitions Department (of one!)
My cake is cooked, presents wrapped and the tree looks very Christmassy.
Christmas week is hectic crazy and maybe not the best time to be reminding you about our ESSAY COMPETITION. So I won’t. I’ll save that for the New Year when we can think about resolutions and other scary stuff. In the meantime, kick-back, relax, enjoy Christmas and the break from the old routine.
Take care on the roads. There are people out there with too much to do and not enough time. If you don’t believe me ask my panel beater!
In case you didn’t know, it has been a pleasure and a privilege during the year to work with the editors, the judges and you the contestants.
See you in 2017.