Short stories make impact

Writer in Residence Colleen Maria Lenihan.

MORE than 100 short stories were received for this year’s Dan Davin Awards.

Dan Davin Literary Foundation (DDLF) chairwoman Rebecca Amundsen said 56 entries were received in the senior student section, 35 in the junior section and 22 in the adult.

“Some sections, such as the juniors, were up, some were down.”

Each year’s topic affected the number of entries, Amundsen said.

Often there was an increase in entries in the adult section, especially when the topic was poetry, such as last year when there were 46 entries, she said.

An increase in the number of schools taking part was another positive this year, with nine senior schools, including the Murihiku Young Parents’ Learning Centre (MYPLC), and eight junior schools, she said.

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, the awards went ahead online last week.

University of Auckland associate professor Paula Morris was a judge.

“She was very impressed with the calibre of entries, especially the student entries and gave some good advice,” Amundsen said.

She had said in order to write short stories, people should read short stories, and she also talked about “the war on cliches” and gave good advice on how to write short stories, Amundsen said.

Although normally based in Auckland, DDLF Writer in Residence Colleen Maria Lenihan had arrived in Invercargill a few weeks ago, before the Covid-19 lockdown, to take up a three-week residency at the Southern Institute of Technology’s historic Yule House.

The residency normally would have included hosting various workshops and talks throughout Southland and trips to Stewart Island and Milford Sound as part of the Dan Davin Awards. However, due to lockdown, these plans had all changed.

Depending on alert level changes, Amundsen hoped Lenihan would still be able to visit Stewart Island before she returned to Auckland, as well as host some workshops.

Looking to the future, Amundsen said she hoped the awards would continue to grow with more people of all ages entering.

“We are hoping to build on this year’s growth and increase in the range of schools.”

This year’s winners in the short story section were:

Senior student: Fineen Hingston (Wakatipu High School, Queenstown) with Time and Tide, first; Kate Johnstone (James Hargest College) with Red Card, second, and Alice Smith (Aparima College, Riverton) with A Life Jacket, third. Highly commended were Brooklyn Hitchcock, (Aparima) with The Strangest Dream; Harri Pickett, (Southland Girls’ High School) with The Lost Adventures of Amelia Earhart, and Thomas Walker (James Hargest College) with I am 43

Commended were Leigha Fuller (MYPLC James Hargest College) with A Young Mum’s Journey; Lucas Huia (James Hargest College) with Falling Past Stars, and Genna Woodward (Aparima College) with Onna-Bugeisha.

Junior student: Sacha Armstrong (Aparima College) with After Life, first; Daphne Ricketts (Wakatipu High School) with A Perpetual Journey, second, and Jakob Collins (Aparima College) with Only Fourteen, third. Highly commended were Max Woodward (Aparima College) with A Bad Day in the Office; Millie Hackett (James Hargest College) with The Portraits of Extinction; Ryan O’Callaghan (Central Southland College, Winton) with Southland (poem), and Martha Eade (Aparima College) with Mr Linden’s Library.

Adult: Andrew Watson with The Bird on the Wireless Pole, first; Troy Holiday with The Sweetest Note, second, and Edna Weedon with The Rehearsal, third.