KYD School Writing Prize 2022: Judges Report

2022 Judges: Rawah Arja & Alan Vaarwerk

Winner — ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’ by Audrey McKenzie (Year 11, Footscray High School, VIC)

RAWAH: I very much enjoyed reading Audrey McKenzie’s take on Hope in her wonderful non-fiction essay ‘Per Aspera Ad Astra’. It gives the reader an insight into the complexities and intricacies of what it takes to be alive but still somehow strive to not be forgotten.  It was well written and kept me engaged and pondering about our world—something I find little time to do now due to the mad rush of trying to keep up with life. Audrey’s writing flowed in a way that takes the reader on a journey of hope and encourages one to reflect on their own dreams and aspirations. Why are we here? What is our purpose? What mark will we leave when we’re gone? The energy of this piece is calming and simply reinforces the idea that we’re on a planet floating around hoping that we do something as a collective to make this world a better place. I love this piece!

ALAN: I really enjoyed Audrey’s unexpected take on the theme of this year’s prize—her argument that humans’ interest in the stars and outer space exploration is a fundamental expression of hope is illuminating and compelling, and indeed hopeful—not for salvation or an escape from a dying earth, but to leave a mark on the universe after we’re gone. Audrey writes in an accessible and engaging non-fiction essay style that demonstrates her research effectively and avoids the tendency to over-emphasise statements or arguments. I can’t wait to read more of Audrey’s work in the future!

General Judging Comments from Rawah Arja:

I really enjoyed reading all this year’s submissions—overall, all the pieces were great, and it excites me as a writer and teacher that there is much potential in the world of writing.

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