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NT Literary Awards

TERRITORY WRITERS, POETS, PLAYWRIGHTS – lend us your ears... Entries for the 2021 NT Literary Awards are now open! This annual competition celebrating the local written word covers a range of categories including short story, poetry, theatre and more.

It is one of few opportunities for Territory writers to receive acknowledgement for their creative abilities. 2020 Poetry Award winner Johanna Bell says this level of acknowledgement is important.

“I’ve heard it said that writing allows you to be alone and with others at the same time. The catch is that connecting with others can only happen when your work is out there in the world. The NT has very few opportunities for publication, which is what makes the NT Literary Awards such an important event,” she says.

“Not only does it bring writers and readers together to celebrate local stories but it’s also an excellent motivator to create new work...the Awards cater for writers across different genres, ages and locations.”

Although yet to reap the rewards of taking out the 2020 Poetry category due to limitations surrounding the pandemic, Bell says it’s resulted in positive opportunities in the past.

“I won the poetry prize and was contacted by an agent at Curtis Brown, who had read my work and wanted to chat. Geographic privilege is an ongoing challenge in the writing world, where most editorial decisions are made out of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The NT Literary Awards gives local writers a chance at being seen beyond our borders.”

Bell says national recognition is just one of the challenges faced by Territory writers.

“One of the biggest challenges that exists for regional writers is typecasting. The publishing industry, and the media more generally, have been guilty of perpetuating narrow narratives about the north. We’ve heard the Crocodile Dundee, Bombing of Darwin, tropical backwater, frontier town and Cyclone Tracy stories,” she says.

“If you’ve lived in Darwin for any length of time, you know this place is way more than what gets told ‘down south’. It’s time for a new generation of diverse voices and lived experiences, and the NT Literary Awards is one way to help elevate new work.”


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