Aspiring novelist Loren Clarke and award-winning NSW poet John Watson have won this year’s Griffith University Josephine Ulrick Literature and Poetry Prizes worth $10,000 each announced at the Gold Coast Arts Centre on May 8.

Among the richest literary prizes in Australia, the awards have uncovered some of Australia’s most promising talent said Professor Nigel Krauth,judging co-ordinator and head of Griffith University’s creating writing program.

“They help foster the talents of early career writers, while also recognising established writers. There were 900 entries this year. That’s a lot of people seeking recognition for their writing.”

“I didn’t think I’d win and was so surprised and elated when I received the call,” said Loren, who moved to Tasmania early this year to finish her first young adult fiction novel.

A Griffith alumnus, Loren completed a Bachelor of Film and Screen Media in 2003 and has worked in film and television production in Melbourne and London over the past decade.

“In January I moved into my mother’s beach house and thought I’d start sending some of my writing to competitions without worrying about rejection,’’ she said. Her story, Monster, depicts an unexpected and erotic connection between a youth working at his parents’ hotel and an older woman staying there.

“I have a lot of journals and write most mornings, so I looked back at some of my work which included the characters in my story and developed it from there.

“This award validates my decision to focus on my writing and I hope to have my novel completed by the end of 2014.”

Award-winning Australian poet John Watson’s winning poem The Persistence of February 1, 2012 honours the life of Nobel prize-winning poet, Wislawa Szymborska, who died in 2012.

“InFour Refrains (Picaro Press 2011) there is a longer and different poem about the same subject, Wislawa Szymborska,” said John, adding that he thought the award was important.

John Watson

John Watson

“Poetry in Australia is at present, shunned by most readers – for various reasons. This makesthe task of publishersa difficult and financially unrewarding pursuit. The award is valuable in its public validation of poetry and its publication.”

John said he hoped not to buy more books for they are already threatening to take over his house, but he would like to travel to the Isle of Skye where admired poet Sorley McLean lived.

The second-prize for literature of $5000 was awarded to Nicholas Brooks for (The Cusp) and Jonathan Hadwen received the $5000 poetry prize for The Turning Light.

The Griffith University Josephine Ulrick Literature and Poetry prizes are sponsored and managed by Griffith University.