Winners announced

The inaugural Moonee Valley Libraries writing award launched this year, to the theme of Strange Days. We received 200 entries from writers all over Victoria.

The judging panel read all entries anonymously and were highly impressed by the quality and creativity of the writing. A shortlist of ten was passed on to our guest judge, beloved author and Moonee Valley local Helen Garner.

Helen says:

“When the shortlist of 10 anonymous essays reached me, I sat down eagerly to read them. On every page there are signs of the hard, earnest work it takes to get down on paper something that matters deeply to the writer. Each entry holds a chunk of the writer’s heart, and nerves, and even soul. There’s blood and guts in these essays, treasures of experience and observation, and of thought, despair and hope. I was moved in a different way by each of them, and as always it was difficult to choose three winners. I warmly congratulate these three writers, whoever they may be; and I thank all the entrants for the pleasure and emotion I found in reading their work.”


The winners are:

FIRST PLACE: Spell for a Skin by Rijn Collins

Helen says: “A self-styled witch, with her husband and her young stepson, buys, loves and loses a tiny snake. I chose it for its dry wit, its delicacy, its tender seriousness and beauty.”

Read Spell for a Skin


SECOND PLACE: Learning to Light Fires by Maria Griffin

Helen says: “About a woman and her ageing parents in her childhood house in winter, waiting quietly for the father to die. I admired its confident handling of time, the power of its imagery, its extreme emotional restraint.”

Read Learning to Light Fires


THIRD PLACE: Life Buoy by Anna Sublet

Helen says: “A cancer diagnosis and treatment: what can a person find in herself to get her through this experience? I was struck by its light touch, the vividness of its physical world, its sense of breathless waiting and then of release and gratitude.”

Read Life Buoy



Katherine Brabon, Writing a Woman in Lockdown

Zara Gunadson, The Days In Between

Violet Kieu, Grit, Grace and Groundedness

Elizabeth Quinn, Strange Days

Jenny Sandercombe, When Night Turns

Nova Weetman, And Cat Makes Four

Palwesha Yusaf, Single File

Read all of the shortlisted entries here.


Thank you to every single writer who shared their work with us, and to Helen Garner for kindly offering her time and expertise.

Helen Garner Portrait scaled