The future of storytelling in the region is in good hands, judging by the results of the first creative writing competition for Clarence Valley schools.
The winners of the inaugural Long Way Home schools short story competition were announced last Thursday, with students from Copmanhurst Public School and Grafton High School taking out the top honours.
Over 135 stories were submitted from schools stretching from the white sandy beaches of Yamba, all the way up the valley to Baryulgil.
Judge and celebrated Grafton writer, Claire Aman, said all of the stories were of a very high standard, making it a hard job for the judges.
“But the winning stories stood out from the rest and were deserving winners,” Ms Aman said.
“The three judges were unanimous with their decision to award first place in both categories and we’re very impressed by the calibre of the shortlisted stories.”
Seremi Gorogo-Rawson, a year six student from Copmanhurst Public School, won the primary school category with her story, Until Now.
Ms Aman said Seremi was a gifted storyteller, telling a big story in just 150 words.
“The voice is reflective and self-aware, Seremi uses beautiful images and the story has a lot of feeling,” Ms Aman said.
Second place in the primary school division was Lani Cole of St James Primary School Yamba, with She Runs Deep.
Ms Aman said Lani’s story carried a powerful environmental message but was presented in an original, quite mystical way.
Both Seremi and Lani have won tickets to the Byron Writers Festival Kids Day Out.
The winning story of the secondary school’s category was The Long Way Home, written by Nadia Smith of Grafton High School.
“The Long Way Home is a very emotionally intense story which builds up to an inevitable but devastating ending,” Ms Aman said.
“It describes the inner world of the narrator through her sensations – her heartbeat, her breathing, tears spilling, muscles trembling in her chin – without her having to actually say she feels sad,” Ms Aman said.
Nadia has won tickets for herself and nine classmates to attend the Byron Writers Festival secondary school day where international authors will speak about a range of topics including women in the wilderness, the craft of writing and an interview with Australian author, Tom Keneally.
Runner up in the secondary school’s category was Eden Annesley (year 10) from Clarence Valley Anglican School, with her story, Hiraeth.
“There’s a fabulous imagination at play in Hiraeth,’ Ms Aman said.
“The images are masterful, like the peeling paint that reminds us of dried blood, and the concept is really fascinating.”
Highly Commended prizes were also awarded to Brooke Chapman from St Mary’s Primary School Grafton, Declan McKone of St James Primary School Yamba, Ruby Donnelly of Baryulgil Public School, and Sharlee Cook of St Joseph’s Primary School South Grafton.
The judges were Ms Aman; Bundjalung woman, Daily Examiner columnist, and consultant Janelle Brown; and, freelance journalist Erin Brady.
They team are now busy judging stories entered in The Long Way Home open short story category.
All of the short-listed stories in the competition will be published in a collection of Clarence Valley stories later this year.
The Long Way Home project is a collaborative not-for-profit writing project that aims to capture and share Clarence Valley stories and inspire writing across the region.
Prizes were kindly donated by Byron Writers Festival, The Long Way Home project, and Book Warehouse Yamba.