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Best and brightest emerging writers honoured

7th November 2011

A story about discovering a husband's "dirty secret" after January's floods in Brisbane is among creative works recognised in Australia's biggest writing prize for university students.

Kathy George, a third-year student from Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Bachelor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing), was named the winner of the 2011 Undergraduate Queensland Writing Prize on Friday (November 4) for her work Dirty Secrets.

The joint winners of the Australia-wide 2011 Postgraduate Queensland Writing Prize were also announced at a gala event at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) in Brisbane.

Curtin University PhD writer Brooke Davis and QUT Master of Creative Industries (Creative Writing) student Kate Zahnleiter will share the $2000 prize for their fictional works.

Ms Davis, who flew from Perth to receive the award for Karl the Touch Typist, said the accolade would boost her writing career.

"These kinds of competitions are incredibly valuable, particularly because the writing life is so isolating," she said.

"Trying to be a writer is not easy - life is a constant haze of self-doubt, with tiny sparkles of validation like this wonderful prize."

Judges for the prizes were Farrin Jacobs, editorial director of HarperCollins Children's Books in New York, Q Weekend editor and author Matthew Condon, recently named Adjunct Professor of creative writing at QUT, and QUT Professor Sharyn Pearce.

Patrick Gallagher, chief executive officer of publisher Allen and Unwin, was guest speaker at the gala.

Professor Pearce, from QUT's discipline of Creative Writing and Literary Studies, said judges were impressed with the strength of the 10 works short-listed.

"It was very high quality material. It was difficult to make a choice," she said.

The Queensland Writing Prizes are the largest awards for university student writers, with $2000 of prize money awarded to the winner of each category.

Nearly 100 entries submitted this year were in the form of short story, creative non-fiction, a literary or professional writing essay, or poetry.

The postgraduate award, in its third year, was open to creative writers across the country last year. The undergraduate award is offered to QUT students majoring in creative writing.

"These are the biggest writing prizes for emerging writers in the country. We are very proud of them," Professor Pearce said.

She said all of the winning stories had a strong sense of story and narrative, with Ms Davis' story exploring the life of a man after the death of his wife.

"It's an emotional story, beautifully written and lyrical," Professor Pearce said.

Judges also praised Ms Zahnleiter's creative work, called Lullaby for the Living, for its technical skill.

The short-listed pieces will be published in QUT's annual creative writing anthology, Rex, and are now published on the Rex Appeal website.

Writers short-listed for the Undergraduate Queensland Writing Prize were: Kathy George (winner), Ann-Louise Hollett, Catherine Kiv, Katia Pase and Fiona Thatcher.

Postgraduate Queensland Writing Prize short-list: Brooke Davis (winner), Kate Zahnleiter (winner), Laura Elvery, Kate Cantrell and Jarryd Luke.

Media contact: Stephanie Harrington, QUT media officer, 3138 1150,

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