Woollahra Digital Literary Award
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.
The award seeks submissions of a literary nature that are digitally born - published online or in electronic form.
Entries for the 2021 Award closed on 30 August. Winners will be announced in November. Please subscribe to the Newsletter for updates.
Here are highlights of the 2020 Woollahra Digital Literary Award Winners Announcement.
The following winners of the 2020 Woollahra Digital Literary Award were announced on Thursday 28 May 2020.
Warning: some of the winning works include adult content and explicit language.
Fiction: Peter Polites, The Final Boys
Judge's comments: Haunted and haunting, Peter Polites' The Final Boys is a complex exploration of diaspora, nostalgia, and sexuality. It offers an intimate glimpse into the unnamed narrator's world, where violence, tenderness, silence, and restlessness agitate and elevate each other. This isn't a short story about voyeurism: Polites writes voyeurism itself.
His intelligence is subtle as he guides the ever-shifting gazes throughout the story - the mother's over horror movies; the narrator's over men; older men, security cameras, and authority figures over the 'wog boy'. But Polites reveals his genius when he at last directs the reader's eyes from the evocative prose onto themselves, demonstrating the terror of a hungry gaze that finally stops.
Non-Fiction: Amanda Tink, A History of Reading: Alan Marshall and Helen Keller
Judge's comments: Amanda Tink’s powerful A History of Reading blends personal essay with literary history. Challenging the standard conceptualisation of the work of Helen Keller, Tink reappraises the works of the Australian memoirist and storyteller Alan Marshall, exploring what his work has meant to her own life and writing.
Tink is a personable narrator here, mixing detailed research and history, while creating new pathways to accessing the work of writers with overlooked legacies. She actively reframes and reshapes the thinking of the reader on disability politics and Australian literature in subtle, shifting ways. This is critical thinking, made real on the page, of the very highest order.
Poetry: Omar Sakr, Where I Am Not
Judge’s comments: While this poem does not use the digital medium as part of its poetics, it does that rare thing only exceptional poems can do: cracks a moment open like an egg, and lets the whole world spill out. In 'Where I am Not' Sakr manages to frisk a brief, intimate conversation in an uber trip for everything it’s got: pasts, imaginings of the future, desires and assortments of feeling.
It is an apt poem for the digital age, where the world has been made smaller, displacements greater, and even love and care have been sub-contracted to the gig economy.
Readers’ Choice Award: Mez Breeze, Perpetual Nomads
Judge's comments: Mez Breeze’s Perpetual Nomads explores loneliness, paranoia, and privacy in the digital age. Using virtual reality, Perpetual Nomads innovates how narratives can look.
Featuring engaging character work from sketchy online personas to too-friendly corporations, Mez Breeze opens up possibilities for storytelling through digital mediums.
The 2020 Woollahra Digital Literary Award recognises outstanding digital writing by Australian authors with the following shortlisted for this year’s prizes in three categories: Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry.
This year we offered an additional prize: Readers’ Choice, that invited all readers to enjoy the shortlist below and cast their vote. The literature piece with the highest number of votes received a $250 prize.
Warning: some of the shortlisted works include adult content and explicit language.
"In 2020, writers shortlisted for the Woollahra Digital Literary Award showcased fiction's ability to re-imagine worlds, whether political, social, or emotional. Their works, however, are no escape from reality, no matter how tumultuous it may be, and instead compel us to re-engage with it, minds sharpened and hearts filled with hope. The shortlisted entries span a wide variety of topics, including the racialisation of body image, mega corporations' feeble attempts to humanise themselves, White Australian identity, and imposter syndrome in the diaspora. Lingering through these diverse stories, however, is a profound sense of solitude, along with all the unexpected beauty it entails." – Stephen Pham
- Jackie French, Christmas in Paris, HarperCollins Publishers. A free copy is available to read via Overdrive with Woollahra Libraries membership.
- Mez Breeze, Perpetual Nomads, FLEFF: Networked Disruptions Online Exhibition
- Peter Polites, The Final Boys, Meanjin
- Rachel Ang, A Thousand Loving Thrusts, The Wheeler Centre
- Tamara Lazaroff, In My Father's Village and Other Freedom Stories, Pollitecon Publications
"The standard of entries for the non-fiction category in the WDLA this year was incredibly high – so high that determining a shortlist was an unusually difficult task. Non-fiction writers have challenged themselves to think deeply and critically about the world around us, in a time when such thinking is needed more than ever. Here, in the settled shortlist, we find profound new thoughts on topics as wide and varied as disability as a literary category, the recent terrifying bushfire season, the industry around Australian native food, and many more, including reflections on legendary Australian artists such as Vernon Ah Kee and Nick Cave. Australian arts and literary magazines supporting digital first publications deserve to be commended too for the essential role they play in developing and fostering such work." – Sam Twyford-Moore
- Amanda Tink, A History of Reading: Alan Marshall and Helen Keller, Sydney Review of Books
- Andrew Brooks, The Island Part One and Part Two, Running Dog
- Drew Rooke, Growth Industry, Kill Your Darlings
- Dženana Vucic, Kin, Kill Your Darlings
- Eleanor Limprecht, The Burning, Meanjin
- Jocelyn Hungerford, Women Who Write About Their Feelings and Lives, Sydney Review of Books
- Keyvan Allahyari, The Trouble With Middle Eastern Literature, Sydney Review of Books
- Mark Mordue, Down By The River: Nick Cave’s Boyhood in Wangaratta (1959-70), Sydney Review of Books
- Sarah Allely, Brain on Nature, Brain on Nature
- Shannon McKeogh, The Cure For Everything, Meanjin
"This year saw an increase in submissions from poets experimenting with what the digital medium has to offer in terms of form, as well as more poems about the digital augmentation of contemporary life. We also saw more poems about fluid identities as well as slippages in time and language. It was very difficult to whittle the submissions down to a shortlist, but the poems I’ve selected showcase something of the range of styles that are made possible by the digital space." – Pip Smith
Categories and prizes
Fiction ($2,500 prize)
A novella or short story collection - 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.
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.
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. The maximum word count is 3,000 words. There is no minimum word count.
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. These works use the digital medium in an innovative way. Maximum word count is 30,000 words.
An additional prize is offered once the shortlist is announced: The Readers’ Choice Award, invites everyone in the community to read the shortlist and cast a vote for their favourite entry. The winner of the $250 Readers’ Choice prize will be the writer that receives the most votes in the period 5 November 2021 – 19 November 2021.
- Entries open – 31 May 2021
- Entries close – 30 August 2021
- Shortlist announced – 5 November 2021
- Award Presentation – 27 November 2021
Meet our judges for the 2021 Award.
Bri Lee is an author and freelance writer. Her journalism has appeared in publications such as The Monthly, The Saturday Paper, Guardian Australia and Crikey. Her first book, Eggshell Skull, won Biography of the Year at the ABIA Awards, the People's Choice Award at the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, and was longlisted for the 2019 Stella Prize. In late 2019 she published an essay titled Beauty, and her latest book, Who Gets to be Smart came out in June 2021. Bri is also a non-practicing lawyer and continues to engage in legal research and issues-based advocacy.
Margaret Morgan is a novelist and screenwriter with a background in law and in biological science. Her novel, The Second Cure, was published by Penguin Random House in 2018 and shortlisted for a number of major literary awards. She teaches at the Australian Writers' Centre and is currently writing her next novel.
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, and was also Director of the Federal Government’s Books Alive campaign.
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.
The Woollahra Digital Literary Award was 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 article, essay or poetry available on a blog, online magazine 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.
How to enter
All entries must be submitted via our online entry form, and include a link to a URL where the work can be accessed at no cost. If your submitted work is only available via a paywall (eg via an ebook vendor), please provide a version of your work for judging in a PDF format via our online entry form.
For judging, if your work is housed online behind a paywall, please help us to access and read your submission easily by formatting an electronic document as an A4 double spaced PDF in 12 point font with a page number on each page.
Please ensure PDF filenames include the name of the author and the title of the work.
Example: Woollahra Digital Literary Award NAME TITLE.pdf
Find out who our past winners were, including judges comments and shortlisted entries.
For more information, please contact:
Events and Programs Coordinator
Telephone: 9391 7100