This year’s Waiheke Literary Festival featured for the first time the Collinson’s Short Story Competition, themed Words On A Small Island, and open to entrants from around the world.
The submitted stories were judged and announced by Ian Wedde, one of New Zealand’s most distinguished novelists and poets, at the festival’s gala lunch at Cable Bay vineyard on Sunday. The results are:
The overall winner was Waiheke Island’s very own Robyne Winton with Out in the Car with Mabel, a story about an outing with an elderly woman who has dementia but who carefully reads supermarket and street signs, and is full of gentle humour and compassion. The judge’s comments were that “it seemed to be dealing modestly with a fragment of ordinary life, without overstatement or a sense of portentous significance, and yet its impact is much greater than the modesty of its content.”
Robin has won a place on the Introduction to Creative Writing course run by the Creative Hub, Auckland’s waterfront writing centre. The course can be taken in class in downtown Auckland or online. Alternatively the prize can go towards the cost of the Thirty Week Fiction Writing Course, which provides one on one mentoring by an established New Zealand author, and allows participants to create a quality first draft of a novel, memoir or short story collection.
Congratulating Robyne, The Creative Hub’s director, John Cranna, said he was delighted with the opportunity to be associated with the island festival and to encourage new fiction writing from around New Zealand and beyond.
The second placed story was by Gry Berntzen, a GP from Norway who is a relative newcomer to the island. Her story The Island in the West is about a mythical ‘island in the west’ visited by a young fisherman, to which he yearns to escape to as an old man. The judge commented that “this story was told as a folk-tale folded inside another, more contemporary narrative – really absorbing, vivid, and – something I always like – it sent me off to look something up and learn something new”.
Gry has won a place on a writers’ weekend run on Waiheke by Vineyard Writers. Vineyard Writers owner (and organiser of the short story competition) Mark Russell says, “Our writers’ weekends are very much about being fun social events that also allow for quiet creative time working on writing projects. On the in augural weekend in September, we had dinner at Casita Miro vineyard on the first night, cooked a communal meal the next night, and had a goodbye lunch at Mudbrick vineyard on the Sunday. All this and each participant still managed to fit in a productive eight hours of writing work.” The next weekend is scheduled for December 2015.
Festival Director Janis McArdle says she was especially delighted that Waiheke writers featured so prominently in the winners and commended stories list, out of a field of entries from right around New Zealand (and even one from China). She anticipates that the winning stories will be published early 2016.
Next year’s competition will open for entries in September 2016.