Author in mix for prestigious prize

Elise Van AkenThe Kimberley Echo
Author Carl Merrison
Camera IconAuthor Carl Merrison Credit: Supplied

An East Kimberley author has been nominated for a $60,000 prize to continue his work writing young-reader fiction, celebrating Indigenous children and exploring their culture.

Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman last week announced the short list for the 2019 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards, with Jaru-Kija man Carl Merrison named as one of five authors nominated for the West Australian writer’s fellowship.

The $60,000 prize will be awarded to assist a Western Australian writer of any style or genre to develop their writing practice and give them the time to create new work.

The Halls Creek-born writer’s first co-authored book, Black Cockatoo, was published by Magabala Books in 2018 and won honours in the Children’s Book Council of Australia young reader category.

In May, Mr Merrison, pictured, was also recognised with a $10,000 prize, manuscript development with black&write! and a publication opportunity with Hachette Australia for his new Backyard Sports series, stories set in the Kimberley celebrating the diversity of Indigenous kids though their adventures playing sport.

It was selected as a feature text for the 2018 Queensland State Library Summer Reading Challenge and included in the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge 2019.

In 2016 Mr Merrison was also named WA runner-up Australian of the Year in the local hero category. He has worked for more than 10 years as a mentor-coach with Aboriginal youth.

Five more books and their authors are up for the Daiy Utemorrah Award for unpublished Indigenous junior and young-adult fiction.

Our Matriarchs by Teela May Reid, 18 Comments by Ellen van Neerven, Swell by Elizabeth Stuart, Yenda by Jannali Jones and Noble Intentions by Krista Dunstan are all in the running for the award administered by Kimberley-based Indigenous publisher Magabala Books with support from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

All category winners will be announced in early August at the State Library of Western Australia.

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