Dr Sally Breen and creative writing winner Selina Dowd.

AB Paterson College student Selina Dowd has won the $3000 first prize in the Griffith Garrets Creative Writing Competition for her story about one woman’s descent into dementia.

Creative writing lecturer and judge, Dr Sally Breen, said Selina showed a sensitivity and maturity well beyond her years in capturing the character’s voice and experience.“Her flair for an evocative but concise image is obvious and she shows real talent as an emerging creative writer,’’ she said.

Established this year, the Griffith Garrets Creative Writing Competition was open to all Year 10 to 12 Gold Coast students; its aim to uncover hidden talent and develop skills for the city’s most promising young writers.

Selina, who wrote 5000 words before editing the story to comply with the 2000 word limit, said she was stunned and excited by her win.“My problem is that I always write too much, but I just wanted to get the idea out, then I could take my time to pare it back and reveal the story’s essence,’’ she said.

“I did a lot of research on dementia as I wanted to be as accurate as possible, but I also found out that everyone’s experience with dementia is different and that it’s very much on a case by case basis.”

Dr Sally Breen said the competition was a testament to the wealth of creative talent at Gold Coast high schools with more than 110 stories submitted.“This result defies current debates about how young people are not reading or interested in books,’’ she said.

“All of the entries showed a clear passion for the written word and the enduring power of language to capture life and convey a message.”

Second-place winner is Sarah-Kate Dalgliesh from St Hilda’s School.

“Hard Times is a comedy of manners capturing an embarrassing moment for a young male student,’’ Dr Breen said.

“Sarah-Kate’s ability to get inside the head of a young man, convince us of his plight and make us laugh at the same time is no mean feat. She too shows much promise as young writer.”

Third-place winner is Holly Johnson from Hillcrest Christian College.
“Holly’s story about an incident on a river is rendered in active and sensorial language which demonstrates Holly’s abilities a young writer,’’ Dr Breen said.

“Griffith University School of Humanities is committed to developing creative writing talent and these awards show that young people are interested in these pathways too.”