2019 Mascara Avant-garde Awards


Winner: Blakwork by Alison Whittaker (Magabala Press)

is radical in its forms and addresses; seeking, unapologetically to unsettle white heteronormative spaces. The poet is also tasked to decolonise discourses in language, law, and popular culture. Whittaker explodes the stock images and racist, reductive tropes that are the foundations of settler nation. With syntactic and rhetorical shifts and with neologisms, her sound poems invigorate the lyric with freshness, vitality and impressive virtuosity.


Subtraction by Fiona Hile (Vagabond)
A Trillion Tiny Awakenings, by Candy Royalle (UWAP)
The Alarming Conservatory by Corey Wakeling, (Giramondo)


Winner: The Bed-Making Competition by Anna Jackson (Seizure)

The Bed-Making Competition
is startling, humorous and compassionate in voice and tone. Reminiscent of J.D Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, it offers the wisdom of near-lived experience through the alternating fictional voices of two sisters over twenty years, and their often self-detached, self-performative subjectivities. Temporal partitions bring the past and present into synchrony. The structure of this novella is exemplary; it may be read as short stories, symmetrically arranged, each with a ‘bed-making’ metaphoric trope or juxtaposed psychologically so that destiny is mirrored and reversed. Deep emotional insights are presented through irony and tact gliding over the surface of volatility, confusion and disorder in the lives of Hillary and Bridgid.


Melodrome by Marcelo Cohen translated by Chris Andrews (Giramondo)
horse by Ania Walwicz (UWAP)
All My Goodbyes by Mariana Dimopolus translated by Alice Whitmore (Giramondo)


Winner: No Friend But the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian

As a writer and political thinker Behrouz Boochani is one of the most important figures of our time. In No Friend But the Mountain he achieves the impossible, a treatise of dignity, equality and freedom in the face of a brutal and inhumane imprisonment. Part lyric-memoir, part existential philosophy, meticulously written on a mobile phone and translated from Farsi, this book is an act of interceptionality, re-claiming subjectivity for the subaltern voice of detainees, mediating the political narratives used by mainstream media in profiling asylum seekers. Translated by Omid Tofighian, Boochani follows in a tradition of Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notes and Solzhenitsyn’s 
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. We are proud that Mascara Literary Review was one of the first journals to publish Boochani’s prose from Manus Island Detention Centre in 2015 (edited by Janet Galbraith). 


The Tastes and Politics of Inter-cultural Food in Australia by Sukhmani Khorana (Roman and Littlefield)
Visualising Human Rights by Jane Lydon (UWAP)
The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright (Giramondo)

Best Anthology 

Of Indian Origin Ed Paul Sharrad and Meeta Chaterjee (Orient Black Swan)

A ground-breaking collection of writing by Australian Indians, edited by Paul Sharrad and Meeta Chatterjee Padmanabhan. It gives readers access to lesser-known material from published writers like Meena Abdullah, Suneeta Peres da Costa, Sudesh Mishra, Michelle Cahill, Christopher Raja, Sunil Badami,  and Christopher Cyrill. It also introduces writers such as Manisha Anjali, Aashish Kaul, Rashmi Patel and Sumedha Iyer. Resisting homogenised or hierarchical representations of the Indian-Australian community, contributors spread not only from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, but also include Anglo-Indian voices and work from the Fijian and African Indian diaspora now living in Australia. The introduction outlines the discriminatory legal and political cultural framework which Australian Indians have had to navigate historically. Indians are the second largest group of immigrants in Australia; even still the editors, both postcolonial scholars, could not interest an Australian publisher. While there have been Asian Australian anthologies such as Wind Chimes and Contemporary Asian Australian Poetry, and sparks of interest through conferences and academic writing; the focus is often on China or Southeast Asian Australian writing. This collection locates the Indian Australian experience of South Asia with all its richness and flourishes firmly in the canon.


The Big Black Thing: Chapter. 2 
Sweatshop, ed Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Winnie Dunn, Ellen van Neerven
Going Postal: More than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, Ed Quinn Eades & Son Vivienne (Brow Books)
Light Borrowers, UTS Anthology Intro by Isabelle Li  (Seizure)

2018 Mascara Avant-garde Awards


Winner: Constitution by Amelia Dale (Inken Publisch) 

Dense, witty, distressing, radical, this non-fiction poetry exposes the redundancy of media discourse, theory and legal frameworks that underpin patriarchal agency, white settler space, and authorship. The layering of poetic structure into constitutional elements highlights the way discourse can be manipulated to postpone reform and to partner coalitions between poetry, politics and nation. The design and satirical appropriation of paratexts as frames is timely and highly original.


Argosy by Bella Li  (Vagabond)
The Honeymoon Stage by Oscar Schwartz, (Giramondo)
In Some Ways Dingo Melody Paloma, (Rabbit Poetry)


Winner: Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria by Brian Castro (Giramondo)

With its dark ironies and playful liberties of form there is mastery and joy in this verse novel. Castro’s musicality, anagrams and puns interpolate the banal with the absurd in 34 cantos that riff on The Divine Comedy as they tell the story of the last days of cancer fugitive and Adelaide architect, Lucian Gracq. This superb novel is innovative, thoughtful, comforting and profound.


Rubik by Elizabeth Tan, (Brio)
The Last Days of Jeanne D’Arc by Ali Alizadeh (Giramondo)
My Life and Other Fictions by Michael Giacometti (Spineless Wonders)


Winner: Mirror Sydney by Vanessa Berry (Giramondo)

Described as an off-piste urban field manual, this book walks us through a psycho geography where alternative narratives find space between the icons, infrastructure, wharves and freeways. Historical layering, speculative flourishes and the rhetoric of maps  shape the city’s ethical and hybrid possibilities. An extended meditation on time, space, history and urban subjectivity.


Scoundrel Days by Brentley Frazer (UQP)
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette Brennan (TEXT) 

The Book of Thistles by Noëlle Janaczewska (UWA Publishing)


Best Anthology 

Winner: Shaping the Fractured Self  Ed. Heather Taylor-Johnson (UWA Publishing)

This anthology permits poetry and life-writing to speak to one another in a profound act of healing. Encompassing contributions by poets suffering from physical and mental, chronic and inherited illness, it is beautifully presented, meticulously edited and remedies what Virginia Woolf described as the ‘poverty of the language of illness.’


Too Deadly, (UsMobWriting)
The Best Australian Poems 2017 Ed Sarah Holland-Batt (Black Inc)
The Australian Face, essays from the Sydney Review of Books, Ed Catriona Menzies Pike and James Ley (Giramondo)