Wednesday, 26 April 2017 10:35am
Landfall, New Zealand’s leading journal of arts and literature, has announced the winner of the inaugural Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition.
Named in honour of Dunedin poet and literary figure Charles Brasch, who founded Landfall in 1947, the new competition is an annual award open to New Zealand writers aged 16 to 21.
Landfall editor David Eggleton says the 48 entries received were an ‘immediately readable throng of lively, opinionated, argumentative essays: writing that brimmed with ideas’.
New Zealand student Andy Xie, currently studying at the University of Columbia in the United States, takes the $500 prize with his essay ‘The Great New Zealand Myth.’
‘A saga of migration and transformation, of landfall and then further wanderings, Andy Xie’s essay is also an exploration of idealism and its consequences, told as a personal narrative that describes his parents’ self-sacrifice for the sake of their offspring,’ says David Eggleton.
Second place went to Mia Rutledge for ‘We Are Nothing Without Our History’, a potted account of Taranaki’s provincial history intertwined with familial history that featured some wonderful imagery.
Third placegetter Alexandra McKendry adopted the persona of an elderly curmudgeon in her well-paced diatribe, ‘A Facebook Free Diet’, revisiting all the reasons why being on Facebook was a bad thing.
The following essayists were highly commended: Sariya McGrath, Jesse Austin, Ellena Khoo, Ioana Manoa, John Sibanda, James Fitzgerald and Heinrich Metzler.
David Eggleton says one recurring theme was ‘the reality of life’s imperfections and limited choices versus consumerism’s shimmering mirages and supposedly endless opportunities’.
‘Quite a number of the essays, too, dealt with or circled around the theme of self-identity, self-discovery –along with the ways that culture or society served to define it.’
The winning essay is published in Landfall 233, a special 70th anniversary edition.
As part of the 70th anniversary celebration, panel discussions on Landfall are being held during both the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival and the Auckland Writers Festival, in May 2017.