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Jamaican Author Wins 2002 Short Story Competition

Jamaican Author Wins 2002 Commonwealth Short Story Competition

Michael Reckford, a Jamaican writer and educator is the overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition, triumphing over 2,000 entries. New Zealand writers fared well in the competition, with Auckland writer, Katie Henderson taking the prize for Regional Winner, (Australasia) for her story “Mermaid”. Adrienne Jansen from Porirua, Steve Charters of Oratia, Danyl Mclauchlan, Wellington and Harold Coop, Auckland were highly commended.

Michael Reckford’s winning story, The Cleaning Class tells the dark tale of the youth gun crime situation which exists in his home country.

For the first time, the 10-year-old speaks. “Yu fire de nine last night, Tony?”
Remembering the acrid smell of the weapon before the cleaning started, the boys wait expectantly. Tony nods. Hearts race. The climax is coming.

“We are a young country,” says Reckford. Sixty per cent of Jamaicans are under 30 and a horrific crime situation exists. But there are reasons for crime, and a writer’s job is to look behind the news of the event.”

Michael has been writing for 40 years and has won numerous local and international prizes for his stories, plays and poems. He first entered the Commonwealth Short Story Competition in 1998 where his story Like Smoke won the Regional Award for the Caribbean. He has entered every year since then, and his persistence has paid off, quite literally, to the sum of £2,000.

The judges were Gabriel Gbadamosi, Nigerian playwright, Kailish Budhwar, former head of the BBC’s Hindi Service and Margaret Meyer, Director of Literature at the British Council.

The Commonwealth Short Story Competition began in 1996 and is funded by the Commonwealth Foundation and administered by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA). The winning stories have ben recorded onto CD and distributed to broadcasting stations throughout the Commonwealth, including Radio New Zealand and will be broadcast early in the New Year.

Regional Winner Australasia, Katie Henderson is a full-time mother of three. She was the recipient of the Bank of New Zealand’s Katherine Mansfield Novice Writer’s Award in 1999 with her first-ever short story. She has since had work published in numerous literary journals and a short story anthology which has been broadcast by National Radio.

Adrienne Jansen lives with her family in Porirua where she has taught English and writing skills to groups who have English as a second language. She has been published in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She is particularly interested in subjects involving cultural diversity.

Steve Charters grew up in New Zealand and later attended acting school in England. He is completing a degree in English Literature and Theatre at Auckland University and has had his work published in the Flamingo anthology, Creative Juices.

Danyl Mclauchlan was born in Wellington and studied Classics at Victoria University. He has worked in the computer industry in New Zealand, London, New York and Tokyo and travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Harold Coop is a former eye surgeon now working full-time on his arts, painting and writing. In 1964, he published House Surgeon under then name of Harold Valentine. He has had a dozen or so solo painting exhibitions in New Zealand. His story for children The Creator was included in a book for schools published by Oxford University Press. He now lives in Auckland.

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