From left to right - Kelly Canby, Margaret Allen, Renee Pettitt-Schipp, Kirli Saunders, Hon David Templeman, AJ Betts — at State Library of Western Australia.

The winners of the 2018 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards were announced at the State Library of Western Australia on Friday 26 July 2019. Honourable David Templeman Minister for Culture and the Arts presented the Awards and also launched the Library’s sixth Disrupted Festival of Ideas.

“I am particularly pleased that these Awards focus on promoting Western Australian writers.  Making a living writing is not easy and it is important to promote our writers, because our stories are important,” the Minister said.

“It is fitting that the Awards are held in the State Library as it is a place of learning, a place where literature and writing is celebrated,” he said.

The Premier’s Book Awards are Western Australia’s peak awards for writers and focus on supporting Western Australian writers with a major Fellowship awarded for the first time. At $60,000 the Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship is one of the most valuable awards in Australian arts.

These awards have been made available by the Western Australian Government and are managed by the State Library of Western Australia.

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA Writing Shortlist

  • Paul Callaghan, ‘Coincidence
  • Kirli Saunders, ‘Mother Speaks
  • Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler, ‘Tracks of the Missing

Winner -  Mother Speaks by Kirli Saunders

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Writing Award was open to Indigenous writers from across Australia and was won by Gunai woman, Kirli Saunders for her moving story in verse for children, Mother Speaks. This award was administered and funded by Broome-based Indigenous publisher Magabala Books with support from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

Judges comments: Mother Speaks is a lovely, lyrical exploration of the wisdom of the earth. The gentle rhythm of the verse speaks to the patterns and cycles of the nature, and every line holds deep meaning that can be revisited many times over – this a story that will delight adults and children alike.

Emerging Writer Shortlist

if i tell you Alicia Tuckerman (Pantera Press)
The Rúin Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Publishers)
The Sky Runs Right Through Us Reneé Pettitt-Schipp (UWA publishing)
The Wounded Sinner Gus Henderson (Magabala Books)
You belong here Laurie Steed (Margaret River Press)

Winner -  The Sky Runs Right Through Us by Reneé Pettitt-Schipp​
Published by UWA Publishing (2018)

Judges comments: In this evocative, memorable collection of poems, Pettitt-Schipp writes of experiences that are both personal and political. Formally diverse, tough-minded but always accessible, the poetry addresses issues ranging from Australia’s contemporary treatment of asylum seekers to the poet’s coming to terms with her father’s decline and death, to her appreciation of the natural environments which in which the poetry is set.

Writing for Children Shortlist

Grandpa, Me and Poetry, written by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Craig Smith (Scholastic Australia)
The Happiness Box, written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Andrew McLean (Walker Books Australia)
The Hole Story, written and illustrated by Kelly Canby (Fremantle Press)
How to Win a Nobel Prize, co-authored by Barry Marshall and Lorna Hendry, with illustrations by Bernard Caleo (Piccolo Nero, Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd)
Puddle Hunters, written by Kirsty Murray and illustrated by Karen Blair (Allen & Unwin)

Winner -  The Hole Story by Kelly Canby​
Published by Fremantle Press (2018)

Judges comments: Kelly Canby’s distinctively individual illustration style underpins a taut, cleverly conceptualised story with layers of playfulness and wisdom. The Hole Story is a memorable picture book that will intrigue children while also engaging those adults who connect them with it.

Western Australian Writer's Fellowship Shortlist

  • A.J. Betts
  • Amanda Curtin
  • Craig Silvey
  • Kylie Howarth
  • Madelaine Dickie

Winner -  A.J. Betts

Judges comments: A.J. Bett’s Young Adult novel will focus on a teenage band trying to record a song to enter the Triple J ‘Unearthed High’ Competition. The story will explore the pressures that year 12 students experience when they don’t feel ready for post-school life, and address some of the issues that concern this age group, including friendship, honesty, courage and identity.

Last updated on: 23 October 2019