The Woollahra Digital Literary Award is a national literary award supporting innovation in Australian literature and publishing, encouraging writers producing work in a digital medium. Please subscribe to the Newsletter for updates on the Woollahra Digital Literary Award.
Announcing the Winners: 2023 Woollahra Digital Literary Award
We are very pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2023 Woollahra Digital Literary Award!
We were thrilled with the calibre of the 179 entries to the awards this year.
Thank you to our judges Claudine Tinellis, Tiffany Tsao, Ali Whitelock and Brett Osmond for all their efforts as they compiled the shortlist and selected this year's winners
Warning: Some of the winning works contain adult content and explicit language, as well as disturbing or confronting topics. Readers' discretion is advised.
Michael Mohammed Ahmad, The Life of a Folk Devil(PDF, 888KB), Meanjin
“Powerful, thought-provoking and gritty, Life of a Folk Devil is a chronicle of the legacy and impact of racism. A no-holds-barred examination of multiculturalism in Australia and the resulting challenges we collectively face in representing cultural diversity with nuance.
Reading like a memoir, this piece offers glimpses of the protagonist’s life held up against a backdrop of deeply personal, communal and global events. Events which had a profound effect on the protagonist’s sense of identity and belonging.
Deeply moving, raw and at times uncomfortable, Life of a Folk Devil is a complex, compelling read and deserved winner of the 2023 DLA Fiction Award. ” –Claudine Tinellis
Cher Tan, House Style Lifestyle, or Same. Same. Same. Same. Same. Same., Cordite Poetry Review
"Published before fears of writing’s automatisation went mainstream with the debut of ChatGPT, Cher Tan’s 2021 essay was prescient and is chillingly relevant – a brilliantly sustained and relentlessly incisive commentary on the shift in today’s writing industry away from the particularity of voice and thought towards aesthetically conformist content: 'No thoughts, just vibes.'" –Tiffany Tsao
Dominic Symes, Security Questions (True Vulnerability), Cordite Poetry Review
“The tenderness in this poem tangles me in the web on the patio of my own past and without seeing it coming, I find myself at the bottom of the well of my own childhood looking up blinking into a distant sun. I feel the pride of the poet’s mum, in these simple, breathtakingly beautiful lines, how she spells her name - how this places her in a certain time, a certain world, a world I wish I could return to time and time again. . . .This poet’s world is my world, the personal is universal and is this not the job of the poet. . . .
This poem offers us a precious world filled with all that any of us will ever need. It is touching and beautiful, slightly strange and stark in its brilliance. This poem pushes its specs up the bridge of its nose, looks you straight and kindly in the eye and tells you it’s okay, that everything you will ever need exists within you. Until I read this poem, I hadn't realised just how badly I needed it. It is a shimmering piece of work.” – Ali Whitelock
Digital Innovation Prize
Adnyamathanha Community, Yurlu the Kingfisher Man, SharingStories Foundation
“It is quite stunning. I’ve read it several times now. It’s deceptively simple what they have achieved - a balance of media types and technology to propel the story into your imagination. I found it inspiring and so effective. The use of animation with the illustrations and then live footage was clever. Coupled with the audio elements and the simple packaging of these components into the flow of the pages was well done.
Reading is a magical thing. Unfortunately most people rob some of that magic from the reader when they introduce technology, but this project demonstrated how to harness it to expand your imagination, understanding and appreciation. In doing so they have created something that is more than a children’s book - it is a book that can and will be enjoyed by people of all ages.” – Brett Osmond
Yael Grunseit, The Myth of Good Posture, Voiceworks
The Readers' Choice Award was voted for by people in the community from the shortlist across the Digital Literary Award categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry and Digital Innovation.
The Myth of Good Posture, nominated in the Poetry category, received the most votes of all shortlisted entries.
“From short stories to novellas and full-length novels, the entries were an impressive collection of stories that spanned an array of genres, themes, voices, time-periods and settings.
As a writer, I understand the courage it takes to submit your work to competitions like this. To open yourself and your writing up to scrutiny is no easy task. So, I congratulate each and every entrant for taking that leap of faith with their submissions.” –Claudine Tinellis
- Michael Mohammed Ahmad, The Life of a Folk Devil(PDF, 888KB), Meanjin
- Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga, Fell Our Selves, GigaNotoSaurus
- Su-May Tan, Lake Malibu and Other Stories(PDF, 798KB), Spineless Wonders
- Suzanne Visser (Shan), The Carpetbaggers of Mbantua, Clear Mind Press
"It was incredibly difficult to come up with this list. There were many pieces in addition to these that inspired admiration, emotion, and respect; that made me perceive the world, or an aspect of the world, with new eyes; that caused my brain to tingle with unbearable excitement.
The shortlisted entries demonstrate marvellous mastery and coherence with regards to form, structure, style, and tone. And several of them exhibit subtle or overt genius in taking advantage of the digital medium in which they appear. " –Tiffany Tsao
- Rachel Ang, A Stone in the River, Folio Comics
- Jessie Cole, On Art as Love (and everything in between), Sydney Review of Books
- Eda Gunaydin, Pedestrian, Sydney Review of Books
- Cher Tan, House Style Lifestyle, or Same. Same. Same. Same. Same. Same., Cordite Poetry Review
- Jon Tjhia, _____________ complete ____ replacement, un Magazine
- Dženana Vucic, Everything I Don’t Know How to Say / sve što ne znam kako da kažem, Cordite Poetry Review
- Alexander Wells, Australia searches for national identity in the trenches of WWI, Coda
“This is my 3rd year judging this incredible prize, and the poems this year were again brilliant, moving, exquisitely crafted, funny, breathtaking in their originality and their ability to move the reader. They ranged from intricate graphically designed poems, to single stanza poems; from tender hymns to soil, to poems of turtles and lives gone awry.
These poems have left the pens of their writers and gone out into the world to find the hearts that need them most. They will stay with me for a long time to come.” – Ali Whitelock
- Magdalena Ball, Soil Horizon (O), TK
- Gayelene Carbis, What We're Not Going to Talk About, Cordite Poetry Review
- Yael Grunseit, The Myth of Good Posture, Voiceworks
- Elaine Helou, Beets, Cordite Poetry Review
- Hannah Jenkins, Island Layer, The Suburban Review
- Michael Leach, Limits of Vision, Otoliths
- Dominic Symes, Security Questions (True Vulnerability), Cordite Poetry Review
Digital Innovation Shortlist
“Whilst reading in its traditional form is magical, it is inspiring to see how writers are challenging readers with technology. Mixing it up, engaging the reader in new ways and forms. It’s no longer a passive experience but can be a game or an interaction, or a workshop type of experience. Overall, I was and am inspired by the ambition of many of the projects.” – Brett Osmond
Categories and prizes
Fiction ($2,500 prize)
A short story, short story collection, novella or novel - published in the first instance online or in an electronic format that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Novella or short story entries, 3,000-30,000 words. Novels over 30,000 words can be entered by providing a PDF sample of 1-2 chapters. Judges may request access to full novel for reading based on initial read of a sample.
Non-Fiction ($2,500 prize)
A monograph, collection of essays or a long essay - published in the first instance online or in an electronic format that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. 3,000-30,000 words. Longer digital monographs can be entered by providing a PDF sample of 1-2 chapters. Judges may request access to full monograph for reading based on initial read of a sample.
Poetry ($1,000 prize)
Works of poetry published in the first instance online or in an electronic format that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Video and multimedia poems accepted, as well as text-based poetry that has been published online in the first instance. Maximum word count is 3,000 words. There is no minimum word count.
In addition to the above categories, you can also enter:
Digital Innovation ($1,500)
Works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry (or a hybrid of these) published in the first instance online or in an electronic format that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. This is a professional writing category where digital technology is used in an innovative way to enhance written storytelling. We are looking for works that seamlessly integrate digital elements in the story in a new and dynamic way to generate mood, tone and genre.
Entries can solely be entered into the Digital Innovation Category if they don't easily meet the criteria for Fiction, Non-Fiction or Poetry (above).
The Readers’ Choice Award is an additional prize of $250 that is offered once the shortlist is announced. This Award invites everyone in the community to read the shortlist and cast a vote for their favourite entry.
Entries open: Thursday 1 June 2023
Entries close: Thursday 31 August 2023
Shortlist announced: Friday 3 November 2023
Winners announced: Wednesday 22 November 2023
Please subscribe to the Newsletter for updates regarding the Judges of the 2022 Woollahra Digital Literary Award.
Meet our judges:
Fiction: Claudine Tinellis
Claudine Tinellis is a Sydney-based author, podcaster and presenter. A former corporate lawyer, Claudine ventured into the world of publishing in 2014 in the years since has dedicated herself to writing fiction. She is the host and producer of Talking Aussie Books – a popular podcast bringing readers and writers of Australian fiction together. With more than 250 authors interviewed to date, Talking Aussie Books has been ranked number one Australian reading and writing podcast (Feedspot) in 2022 and 2023. Claudine is also a founding executive member of the Northern Beaches Readers Festival, a biennial festival on Sydney’s northern beaches dedicated to connecting readers with their favourite authors.
Non-Fiction: Tiffany Tsao
Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator, and the erstwhile editor of The Circular – a Sydney Review of Books newsletter aimed at keeping the best Australian digital nonfiction in circulation. Her novel Under Your Wings was longlisted for the Ned Kelly Award. Her translation work was awarded the 2023 NSW Premier's Translation Prize and the 2023 PEN Translation Prize. She has a Ph.D. in English from UC-Berkeley.
Poetry: Ali Whitelock
Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer. Her poetry collection, the lactic acid in the calves of your despair is long listed for the ALS Gold Medal for an outstanding literary work in 2020 and is published by Wakefield Press. Her debut collection, and my heart crumples like a coke can (also Wakefield Press) has a forthcoming UK edition by Polygon, UK. Her memoir, poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell (Wakefield Press & Polygon) was launched at Sydney Writers' Festival to critical acclaim. She has just released her third book of poetry, a brief letter to the sea about a couple of things.
Digital Innnovation: Brett Osmond
Brett Osmond has been Managing Director at creative and digital agency, Leading Hand Design since 2016. He is a former Marketing and Publicity Director at Penguin Random House where he became Head of Digital and was part of the ebooks leadership team. Brett was Director of the Federal Government’s Books Alive campaign.
The Woollahra Digital Literary Award is open to all Australian Residents aged 16 years and over, who have published work online in the first instance in last two years.
Submitted works must be available online as: .epub, .pbd, .mobi/azw, .ibooks or .pdf file from a known e-book vendor or platform (such as iBookstore, Google Play, Amazon, Bookworld, Kobo, Baker & Taylor or Overdrive), or as an multimedia piece, story, article, essay or poetry available on an online magazine, journal or website that has an editorial selection process.
Please note: Entrants must provide a URL to the web location where digital work can be accessed as proof of publication. It is the responsibility of each entrant to provide a working URL. Only works that were published in a digital format in the first instance will be accepted for judging.
Check the conditions of entry and frequently asked questions.