Peter Blazey Fellowship

2018 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winner

Sanaz Fotouhi Journey of Hope

In this extract, Sanaz Fotouhi writes about her journey to Afghanistan to make a film about the marriage of a young couple at a place called Mahboba's Promise Hope House, an Australian non-profit organisation that provides help and support for local widows and orphans. She also interviews some of the young orphans there, the children: which leads her to recall her own childhood in Tehran in the 1990s in the wake of the war between Iran and Iraq.

This evocative and touching memoir turns back to Fotouhi's father to chronicle his struggles with education, in particular his determination to learn English 'which expanded his world'. Eventually, her father becomes global and diasporic, working in New York, Los Angeles, Japan and Hong Kong. Returning to Tehran, her family is part of a cosmopolitan Iranian middle class. But then her father leaves for a banking job in Kabul in Afghanistan, ruined after Soviet occupation and Taliban rule. This is a beautifully written memoir about local traumas and predicaments, pitching them - often uneasily - against global movement and an increasingly cosmopolitan self-awareness.

Commended

Bill Ethell Love and Water

This is a lively and determined piece of writing from Bill Ethell, a union activist and sailor who was the skipper of the anti-nuclear protest ship Pacific Peacemaker - which sailed into the French nuclear testing site at Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific in 1982, and which also went to Seattle the same year to protest against America's Trident missile system.

Judges

  • Professor Ken Gelder (Director of the Australian Centre and Head of English and Theatre Studies, The University of Melbourne)
  • Penny Blazey (Representative of the Blazey family)
  • Zoe Dzunko, (Co-editor of The Lifted Brow)
  • Dr Jeanine Leane (School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne)

2017 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winner

Cassandra Pybus for work towards a biography of Trugannini

This is a valuable and important piece of biographical research, focussing on the life of Trugannini, an Indigenous Tasmanian woman who was taken from Bruny Island at the age of sixteen and, as Pybus puts it, was "effectively a prisoner of the state until she died in 1876". The judges were impressed with the quality of writing, the rigor of the research and the command of narrative direction. This is a significant biography, one that will reveal both the horrors of militant colonialism and the ability of Indigenous people to survive under great duress. We note that this work is mindful of "the protocols that govern non-indigenous writers dealing with Indigenous subjects".

Commended

Quentin Sprague for The Stranger Artist

A compelling and culturally significant account of the developing creative relationship between the Gija artist Paddy Bedford and his non-Aboriginal arts advisor, Tony Oliver. The reader is taken on a fascinating journey to a place called Crocodile Hole, and charts the life of the community there and the role it played in Indigenous art production.

Judges

  • Professor Ken Gelder (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)
  • Ms Penny Blazey (representative of the Blazey family)
  • Mr Jonathan Green (Editor, Meanjin)
  • Professor Denise Varney (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)

Download the judges report

2016 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winner

Eleanor Hogan for Into the Loneliness: The Literary Alliance of Ernestine Hill and Daisy Bates

This impeccably researched work provides a captivating account of two famous Australians, Daisy Bates and Ernestine Hill. Both women were heavily implicated in the lives of Indigenous people: Bates was an influential amateur ethnographer and Hill was a popular journalist, author of The Great Australian Loneliness (1937). Eleanor Hogan offers insightful and compelling reflections on their unsteady friendship, their unwavering ambitions, the details of their hard-earned experiences, and the crucial role they both played in giving shape to our colonial legacy.

Commended

Fiona Wright, for Homing In

The judges commend this work as a fascinating and astute investigation of the Australian suburbs, an unflinching chronicle of what it means to live there, and to grow up there. It tells of being shaped by the suburbs and yet excluded from the things they relentlessly prioritise. As her narrative unfolds, Wright also gives us a perceptive and heartfelt account of what it means to be an Australian woman today.

Judges

  • Professor Ken Gelder (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)
  • Ms Clare Forster (representative of the Blazey family)
  • Mr Jonathan Green (Editor, Meanjin)
  • Professor Denise Varney (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)

Download the judges report

2015 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winner

Julia Leigh for Avalanche

Julia Leigh's submission to the Blazey Fellowship was an extract from her forthcoming autobiographical work Avalanche, a frank, touching and beautifully written account of her experiences with IVF. The extract chronicles her decision to undergo treatment, built around her need for what she calls 'Sweet dark purpose'. It folds a sophisticated and sometimes clinically detached view of the effects of medical processes on women into an intensely personal narrative to do with loss, hope and longing. The extract is a series of exquisitely constructed scenes that immerse the reader into the choices she makes and the challenges she faces.

Judges

  • Professor Ken Gelder, Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne
  • Mr Tim Herbert, representative of the Blazey family
  • Ms Catherine McInnis, deputy editor, Meanjin
  • Professor Denise Varney, Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne

Download the judges report

2014 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winner

Rebe Taylor for The Politics and Poetry of Rhys Jones’ Tasmanian Archaeology

Commended

Jane Messer for Grave Relations: A Biography
Jessica White for Blue Shadows and Morning Light: Tracing the Art Collection of F.G. White

Judges

  • Ms Penny Blazey (representative of the Blazey family)
  • Professor Ken Gelder (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)
  • Ms Brigid Mullane (editor, Kill Your Darlings)
  • Associate Professor Denise Varney (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)

Download the judges report

2013 Peter Blazey Fellowship

Winners

Michael Farrell for The Case of Jong Ah Sing
Mark Mordue for Tender Prey: The Life and Times of Nick Cave

Commended

Elmo Keep for The Two Fathers

Judges

  • Ms Penny Blazey (representative of the Blazey family)
  • Professor Ken Gelder (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Jeff Sparrow (editor, Overland)
  • Associate Professor Denise Varney (Co-director of the Australian Centre, The University of Melbourne)

Download the judges report

More past winners