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City of Rockingham Short Fiction Awards - Closed

The City of Rockingham Short Fiction Awards attracted over 200 entries from writers across the world. The creativity of Australia’s youth was shown by the tremendous level of engagement over the school holidays, with almost 70 short stories being submitted into the Young Writers category.

All entries are now being judged ‘blind’ and results will be announced once judging has been concluded, and the winners have been contacted.

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Community Christmas Poetry Competition

Christmas Lights 2015Congratulations to Ashleigh Mounser, whose poem “On the Drive Home From Christmas” was awarded the 2016 Christmas Poetry Prize. Ashleigh makes it a double for 2016, having won the 2016 Castaways Poetry Prize earlier this year.

Judge Karen Murphy said: "This poem stood out among the rest because of the vivid imagery, particularly surrounding heat such as the sister going 'dahlia pink' over the oven and the sweat from wearing a Santa hat. For me these images capture the dichotomy of Christmas in Australia as we seek to maintain some of the tradition of a European Christmas while still establishing traditions of our own. This is captured best in one of the final lines where the poet uses a traditional Christmas food to talk about how the heat makes them 'warm and sticky like toffee' when they go to bed the night before."

Christmas-Lights-Event-2016"While this poem still represents Christmas tradition, it represents some of the uniquely Australian adaptations as a result of the heat, which defines Christmas Day for many Australians. These mentions of heat are both direct, in lines like 'the bitumen burning my toes' and indirect, in lines like 'I can almost hear the sleighbells over the cicadas'. While many images throughout this poem convey an Australian summer, such as the in-season mangos, what truly defines its references to Australian culture is the image of walking barefoot. Few people would understand why you'd do this in heat except for an Australian! This poem also represents an ordinary Christmas, a Christmas many can relate to - the Christmas crackers are old and don't pop, the heat makes it uncomfortable. This isn't a glorified Christmas and the voice is authentic. The metaphor of 'fat, shiny cherries' that is woven throughout this poem is also indicative of that Christmas bloat many of us suffer from. The 'shiny', again, could be seen as alluding to the heat."

As well as the$200 prize, Ashleigh’s poem will be displayed on posters throughout Rockingham during the festive period to bring a little extra joy to the occasion.

Community Christmas Poetry Competition Winner 2016

On the Drive Home from Christmas, Ashleigh Mounser

On the drive home for Christmas,
I pass boxes of cherries on the highway.
My mother always said
she knew it was Christmas time
when the cherries got fat and shiny.
I always know it’s Christmas mid-November,
when I kick off my shoes,
don’t put them back on until February
and walk barefoot to the store for mangoes
in a fleecy Santa hat that makes sweat run down my cheeks,
the bitumen burning my toes.

I know it’s Christmas when my sister starts baking,
turning dahlia pink as she leans over the oven
to check on a cheesecake,
my grandfather grinning in a paper hat he won from a cracker.
The crackers under the tree are so old,
that when we bought them
my mum could still force me to wear shoes,
They don’t pop anymore, so we just pull apart the paper.
Even the puns are dated.

I go to sleep on Christmas eve,
warm and sticky like toffee,
lips glowing from too many cherries
and I can almost hear the sleighbells over the cicadas.

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