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Persistence pays off for prize-winning writer

Persistence pays off for prize-winning writer

Carl Nixon (premier)


Carl Nixon has confirmed his place as a major writing talent by winning the nation’s most prestigious short fiction award.

The Christchurch author took the Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield premier prize of $10,000 for his story, My Beautiful Balloon, at an awards ceremony tonight.

Carl Nixon (premier)


Creative writing graduate, Craig Cliff won the novice category and St Patrick’s College Wellington, year 13 student, Mark Davidson took the young writer’s award.

Mark Davidson (youth category)


Bank of New Zealand head of corporate relations, Fiona Cooper Clarke says the awards’ intention of rewarding outstanding local writing has been fulfilled.

‘These are clearly writers to watch. They each demonstrate real commitment to the literary arts and we warmly congratulate all three of them.’

No stranger to literary acclaim, Nixon was runner up for the same award in 1999. His short story collection, Fish ‘N’ Chip Shop Song was short listed for a 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and he is a two-time winner of the Sunday Star Times Short Story contest (1997, 1999). His novel, Rocking Horse Road was published earlier this year.

Nixon beat more than 430 contestants to take the top award.

He says after ten years of entering the competition, winning feels like a true vindication of the effort he has put into his writing.

‘The Katherine Mansfield contest is, to my mind, New Zealand's pre-eminent short story competition.

‘It's a real thrill to have my name appear alongside those of past winners, many of whom are my own literary heroes.’

Premier category judge, Fiona Kidman says despite the very high standard of submissions, Nixon’s story emerged as a clear winner.

‘I found My Beautiful Balloon beautifully crafted, with unfaltering artistic judgment. It is an accomplished and compelling piece of work.’

Palmerston North-raised Craig Cliff competed against more than 600 stories to take the novice award for his story, Another Language.

A graduate of Victoria University’s creative writing course, Cliff says he has been entering the competition for the last six years.

‘Winning this is a real encouragement; hopefully I can look back on this award and say that it was the beginning of something.’

Novice category judge, Jane Westaway said the winning story has the touch of someone who has learned the craft and is ready to put it to work. . ‘Another Language is touching but not sentimental… it speaks throughout in a fluent voice that invites us into the story for a second and third time…’

Craig Cliff wins $1,500.

Wellington teenager, Mark Davidson won the secondary schools category in what was a record year for entries. There were 412 stories submitted, the most in the awards’ 49-year history.

Category judge, Margaret Mahy said the wide variety of stories and their generally high standard meant choosing a winner was difficult.

‘However, Man’s Best Friend [Davidson’s story] deserves to win. It has a good plot and its prosaic statements have a power of their own.’

Mark Davidson says the award is the first stepping stone in his pursuit of becoming a writer.

He wins $1,500 as does his school.

This year’s winners rub shoulders with some of New Zealand’s literary heavyweights; CK Stead, Keri Hulme, Vincent O’Sullivan and Frank Sargeson all took the Katherine Mansfield Award early in their writing careers.

Bank of New Zealand has sponsored the awards - which aim to foster the country’s literature - for more than four decades. They are New Zealand’s longest-running short story awards, established in 1959.

Katherine Mansfield’s father, Sir Harold Beauchamp, was a director of Bank of New Zealand, a position he held for 38 years. He was also the chairman of the board for 17 years.

The Awards were announced tonight by Ginette McDonald at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington.


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