Kill Your Darlings is delighted to announce Michael Sun (NSW) as the winner of the 2020 KYD New Critic Award. The award includes $3000 total prize money, consisting of a $1000 cash prize (generously sponsored by the Monash School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics) and a regular paid column in 2020, working closely with KYD editorial staff.

Michael Sun is a Sydney-based writer and designer whose work focuses on the intersections between queerness, memory, and technology. He has bylines in KYDGuardian Australia, the MonthlyOverlandVICERunning Dog, and more. In 2017, he edited his student publication Honi Soit.

As 2020 New Critic, Michael’s criticism will focus on queer self-creation across arts and culture, drawing on his own experiences with queer desire and discovery to reveal their inextricability from the way we understand culture and media. The first of these essays will appear in March.

On receiving the award, Michael says:

At a time when the value of the arts is under attack in Australia, the vitality of publications like Kill Your Darlings in supporting emerging arts and cultural writers cannot be overstated. I’m hugely grateful to KYD for giving me the opportunity, resources, and mentorship to go long, and dive deep into the intersections between criticism and memoir – between self-creation and self-reflection.
I’m also honoured to be joining a long lineage of incredibly thought-provoking, existential-crisis-inducing writers. Cher Tan’s work has left some enormous shoes to fill, but I’m beyond excited to take up the New Critic mantle of criticism as a way to make sense of the murky chaos of existence.

We’re also pleased to announce two runners up in the New Critic Award. Both of these writers will work with KYD editors to publish longform works of criticism in KYD in the coming months.

Aimee Knight is a writer and critic from Kaurna Yerta / Adelaide. She’s the small screens editor at the Big Issue and pop culture columnist at the Lifted Brow. Her work appears in Kill Your Darlings, the Guardian, Overland and more. She’s writing a book about the cultural legacy of Jim Henson and the Muppets. Aimee’s New Critic entry focused on exploring the formal capacities and constraints of film and television, along with underexamined screen media like podcasts and videogames.

Fiona Murphy is a Deaf poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in Griffith Review, Overland, and The Big Issue, amongst others. She’s currently working on a collection of essays about Deafness. Fiona’s New Critic entry focused on non-fiction writing across forms including essays, graphic novels, memoir and investigative journalism, and how truth is often wrestled into a linear narrative.  


KYD Editor Alan Vaarwerk says of this year’s winners:

I’m delighted to announce Michael Sun as KYD‘s 2020 New Critic. Out of a consistently high-quality field, Michael’s application stood out for its clarity, originality and relevance. The judges and KYD staff were impressed by Michael’s ability to use memoir and self-reflection to better understand a cultural artefact, and fold big ideas into his writing in an accessible and entertaining way. I’m very excited to see how Michael unpacks and illuminates queer self-creation across a variety of artforms over the course of 2019.

At KYD we are proud to support intelligent and accessible cultural criticism through the New Critic Award, which not only gives emerging writers financial support, but the time and space to build a strong body of work and to reflect and grow as a cultural critic. Michael, Fiona and Aimee have all demonstrated tremendous critical insight with their applications, and I’m very glad to be able to provide this platform for their work.

The 2020 New Critic Award saw entries from emerging writers all over Australia. The judges were 2019 New Critic Cher Tan and book critic and Monash University lecturer Melinda Harvey, with assistance from KYD staff.

KYD gratefully acknowledges the support of the Monash University School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics in sponsoring this year’s award.