Day, Merrison awarded 2020 black&write! fellowships
The 2020 black&write! fellowships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers have been awarded to Eunice Day and Carl Merrison.
Day, whose mother’s tribe is the Yimen Eaglehawk people from the Dawson Valley and whose father’s tribe is the Lama Lama people from North Queensland, was awarded for her illustrated children’s manuscript ‘Rabbits by the Fence Line’. The story follows best friends brown rabbit and white rabbit, who, when a drought comes, begin to fight about who owns the land they live on.
‘What drew me to writing was all the old people always told us stories around the camp fires. Lots of these stories I remember, and they also told us scary ones too! I always could draw, paint and love sketching,’ said Day. ‘Writing drives me to see my stories and art out there for our children to give them something; like, if I can do this, maybe they can do it too. I write for my children’s children, to leave a legacy to them.’
A Kija man from the Halls Creek area, Merrison has worked for over 10 years alongside Aboriginal youth as a mentor and coach; his first co-authored book Black Cockatoo (Magabala) was published in 2018. His Kimberley-set ‘Backyard Sports’ children’s series celebrates the diversity of Indigenous kids and captures the community spirit of the Kimberley, with each story following different young people as they play backyard games of basketball, footy and teeball.
Merrison said, ‘[Winning this fellowship] means a lot. The recognition, and the chance to have my story published is incredible. The story will be around longer than me, I hope. I want to change the life of young people in the Kimberley—if they are interested in a book they will be inspired to learn to read. I write stories with their faces, their experiences, their interests. I want them to learn from my characters and books.’
Each fellowship is worth $10,000 and includes editorial development from the State Library of Queensland’s black&write! editorial team, and consideration for publication by Hachette Australia.
The judges also announced four highly commended entries. They are:
- ‘Eyes of the Sea’ by Charles Passi (QLD)
- ‘Finding Billy Brown’ by Edoardo Crismani (SA)
- ‘I Am As You Are’ by Nicole Jones (QLD)
- ‘Baloo Murri’ by Darren Green (NSW).
The black&write! Fellowships are designed to ‘train, mentor and promote outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and editors, and encourage a love of reading, writing and ideas in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities’.