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NZ's Tracey Slaughter Wins The Calibre Essay Prize

Tracey Slaughter – from Aotearoa New Zealand – has won the 2024 Calibre Essay Prize. Slaughter becomes the first overseas writer to claim the Calibre Prize.

Judges Amy Baillieu, Shannon Burns, and Beejay Silcox chose ‘why your hair is long & your stories short’ from a field of 567 entries from twenty-eight countries.This year’s runner-up is ‘Hold Your Nerve’, by Melbourne writer Natasha Sholl, and third prize goes to Canberra-based journalist Nicole Hasham for ‘Bloodstone’. The judges said this of the overall field:

‘We were delighted to encounter works that took unusual approaches to the form ... Among them were essays exploring the ethics of AI and the repercussions of war, reflections on loss, climate change, and family, musings on lesser-known aspects of history and thoughtful approaches to political and personal subjects.’

The judges said this about Slaughter’s winning essay:

‘In Tracey Slaughter’s “why your hair is long & your stories  short”, a beauty salon becomes a refracting point for the dark complexities of womanhood ... Written in snips and snippets – the literary equivalent of a haircut – this piece is as sharp as good scissors, as evocative as it is incisive.’

Tracey Slaughter on winning the Calibre Essay Prize:

Tracey Slaughter (credit Joel Hinton)

‘Venturing from fiction into personal essay territory has felt beset with risks, and I’ve often found myself back in places that have tested every nerve-end. Real stories raise the stakes in such a physical way. It feels as though the Calibre Essay Prize has come at the perfect time – to help quell those fears and to spur me on in my unfolding work on a collection of personal essays. I feel astounded and blessed and so utterly grateful to all who make this prize possible.’

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About Tracey Slaughter

Tracey Slaughter is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work has received numerous awards including the Manchester Poetry Prize 2023, the Fish Short Story Prize 2020, and the Bridport Prize 2014. She was runner up in the 2018 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. She teaches at the University of Waikato, where she edits the journals Mayhem and Poetry Aotearoa. Her recent books are Devil’s Trumpet (2021) and Conventional Weapons (2019), and her latest collection the girls in the red house are singing comes out in August 2024.

Calibre Essay Prize:

The Prize, now in its eighteenth year, is one of the world’s leading awards for an original essay.

We thank ABR Patrons Peter McLennan and Mary-Ruth Sindrey for supporting the Calibre Prize.

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