Somerville House Literary Awards Success

Somerville House writers have performed exceptionally well in this year’s Literary Awards, sponsored by Independent Education Union (Queensland and Northern Territory), the English Teachers Association of Queensland, the Queensland Independent Education Union, James Cook University, and Penguin / Random House, Australia. Head of English, Ms Joanna Gardiner, said the School has a rich history with the literary competition, with many students achieving wonderful results over the last few decades.

“The IEU Literary Awards allow our talented writers to receive external recognition for their writing, with winning entries published on the IEU Website and in Words' Worth, the journal for the English Teachers' Association of Queensland,” Ms Gardiner said.

“Our students have always performed very well,” she said.  

“In fact, at the 2016 Awards Evening, Somerville House received a special commendation by IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary, Mr Terry Burke, for our long history with this competition. In his address, he noted that Somerville House must have a strong intellectual culture and excellent English teaching for our students to produce writing of such a consistently exceptional standard.”

With many of the School’s students attaining exceptional results in this year’s competition, including highly commended awards and placings, it was Year 12 students, Chanuli J and Hannah O who were awarded first place in Non-Fiction Prose (Years 11 to 12) and Poetry (Years 11 to 12), respectively.   

Chanuli J, winner of first place for Non-Fiction Prose, was invited to read an excerpt from her article, ‘Get Out Of My Face’, at the Awards Ceremony. Shining the spotlight on the topic of biometrics, her article engages attention with the arresting by-line: ‘Farewell anonymity, the future is here - and it imperils our liberty more than ever before’. Chanuli said her article, written for her English assessment in Term 1, develops a robust argument, supporting her assertions convincingly with references to recent debates about cybersecurity, social media and civil liberties.

“My article was written in response to the topic, ‘the ethical implications of biometric technology’,” Chanuli said.

“Reading various articles on the effects of such technology on today’s society inspired me to craft a passionate, cautionary feature article,” she said.

“My piece was written for my English assessment in Term 1 – we were given four weeks to plan, draft and finalise our work.”

“We were luckily able to submit a draft, so I was fortunate enough to have my English teacher’s valuable feedback, which really aided the process,” Chanuli said. 

Hannah O, winner of first place for Poetry, had literary award judges in awe, with feedback stating the poem stand out immediately. Comments from one of the judges stated “thereare idiosyncratic elements to this poem like 'the dark sun coaxed colour and smell' or 'the slow workings of some great thing / settling into slumber' which are produced by a poet who is reaching for a way to describe things which aren't the obvious first analogy”.

For Hannah, however, she says it is her love writing as a medium to interact with the world, as well as her love for regional Queensland and the beauty of Australia that inspired her winning entry.

“I live in regional Queensland and this country is so beautiful and complicated at the same time - at the moment, for example, it’s really feeling the drought, but the lack of green doesn’t make it less beautiful, it just means you have to figure out the beauty of different colours,” Hannah said.

“My poem ‘Love Song/I know your shadows’ is a combination of worship to God the Creator and a love song to the country I’ve grown up in and know intimately,” she said.

When asked where they saw their writing taking them after they finish at Somerville House, both Hannah and Chanuli had differing aspirations.

“I am aiming to do a minor of Creative Writing at the Victoria University of Wellington that I’ve recently been accepted into,” Hannah said.

“This particular university also has a masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing, so I might end up working towards those qualifications,” she said.

“I know that the skills that I have acquired in the past few years will assist me, regardless of my career path,” Chanuli said.

“I hope to continue expressing my ideas through writing - and to do this more often,” she said.

You can see a full list of prize winners below. 

Chanuli J (Year 12)

First Place, Non-Fiction Prose (Year 11 to 12)

Hannah O (Year 11)

First Place, Poetry (Year 11 to 12)

Alison H (Year 10)

Third Place, Poetry (Year 9 to 10)

Sionnan G (Year 12)

Third Place, Poetry (Year 11 to 12)

Julia B (Year 12)

Highly Commended, Non-Fiction Prose (Year 11 to 12)

Elizabeth D (Year 12)

Highly Commended, Non-Fiction Prose (Year 11 to 12)

Grace B (Year 12)

Highly Commended, Poetry (Year 11 to 12)

Matea Z (Year 7)

Highly Commended, Poetry (Year 7 to 8)

Photos courtesy of the Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT)