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Thank you to everyone who entered the Winter 2023 Member’s Competition. 

We received poems and prose, reflection and memory, chess and strategy, rhyme and reason. All submissions were a wonderful reflection of the talent and diversity of our writing community. 

Congratulations to Ronald Atilano, Stephanie Ayres and Diana Pearce whose winning entries are highlighted below.

Ronald Atilano, 'The Forest'

1st Prize - $100

The Forest
(After Ishiguro)

The forest exists by memory alone.
Someone recalls it, someone far away,
and the forest of memory is illuminated,
its trees resurrected on a vivid night,
cicadas continuing an unbroken aria.
I walked there as a child with my father.
We gathered firewood and fencing,
were lost in the maze of tangled roots.
We found orchids and wild plums,
and might have trespassed a hermit’s lair,
dodged gunfire, scurrying out of the woods
like thieves as night fell. That memory,
its fleeting frivolity, only came to me
years after my father passed away.
Seasons and conversations had wilted
and the forest had turned into sand.
If I could ask him now, I’m not even sure
he would remember it.

Stephanie Ayres, 'The Task'

2nd Prize - $75

The Task

(After Le Guin)

    On the surface, he looked like any other man on the street. No-one would suspect any different. His boots were old but sturdy, and protected his feet from the cold ground, and his limp was now barely noticeable. The long coat shielded him from the biting wind, and the leather gloves hid the two missing fingers on his left hand. With the wool cap pulled low over his forehead, he looked for all the world like any man going to the public house on a winter’s night.

    Only he wasn’t going to the public house. He headed down the laneway and crossed the field to Connor Murphy’s barn. It was dark but he knew the way well. The barn door opened a crack and Connor’s lined face appeared. The old man let him in and closed the door.

    ‘Conas a ta tu, Seamus?’

    ‘Ach, ta me go brea.’

    They were joined in a few minutes by Declan O’Donnell and soon after by the man introduced only as Angus. Seamus smelt him over the horse dung before he appeared. Did the man never bathe? He brought with him lists of shift changes, movements over the next week, entry and exit points to the barracks. It would happen tomorrow night, on the dark of the moon. The tans would meet their makers. Declan handed over the fuse and a large knapsack.

    ‘Good luck, Seamus.’

    They left separately and went in separate directions. The following night was moonless and cloudless, but Seamus’s eyes were still sharp, and he had walked this land as a child. The path to the barracks passed by some woods on one side and a stone wall on the other. He went a roundabout route through the trees, took the charge from the pack and connected the fuse to it. He hid the package behind a fallen branch near the road and unfurled the fuse as he made his way back to the safety of the bushes. As he reached the edge of the trees a familiar waft filled the air, and with it the rustling of twigs all around him. He heard the clicking of several muskets, and he knew he had been betrayed.

    ‘There’s no way out, Seamus,’ smirked the informer.

    ‘Ti afhios agam, Angus.’

    Seamus lit the fuse.

Diana Pearce, 'Encounter'

3rd Prize - $50


(After Ishigaro) 


A once-only letter  

Thank you for
the best weekend of my life
I almost feel young again.

This man   her last lover
her first teen love
of unconsummated years

after fifty years a school reunion
a rush of little consequence

the intimacy of bodies
less than the intimacies
of reflection

in an amble of walks
along familiar streets
where leaves turned gold

on the cusp of autumn
three days of pleasure

there were no more reunions
instead a phone call

He died last night.


Shortlisted Entries

A special mention also goes to the shortlisted entries:

    • Julia Brougham, ‘Endgame’
    • Jan Dean, ‘Never Let Me Go’
    • D M Dorahy, ‘Saying Yes Can Create a More Inclusive Wonderland.’
    • Robyn Foredyce Wheeler, ‘Office Delivery’
    • Kerry Gittins, ‘The Queen’s Revenge’
    • Trisha Green, ‘A Writer’s Life’
    • Nat Newman, ‘Samson’
    • Diana Pearce, ‘Dark Reflections’
    • Ellen Shelley, ‘Hope is a Season’
    • Brona Sparkes, ‘Offshore’
    • Cedar Whelan, ‘Memory Modes’
    • Christopher Williams, ‘The Process’




  • Entries close 25 August 2023
  • Submit your entries via the form below
  • The contest is for members only. Become a member
  • Maximum word count: 500 words (poems max 20 lines)
  • Max 2 submissions per member
  • Winners announced September


First Prize: $100

Second Prize: $75

Third Prize: $50

Winning entries will be published on the Hunter Writers’ Centre website.


Write a piece inspired by one of the quotes or images below

‘He knew now, and the knowledge was hard, that his task had never been to undo what he had done, but to finish what he had begun.’

― Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

‘For it is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader; that sooner or later, like it or not, words have a way of finding the light, of making their secrets known.’

― Kate Morton, Distant Hours

‘Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.’

Mary ShelleyFrankenstein

‘Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.’

— Kazuo IshiguroNever Let Me Go

‘We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.’

Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale

‘Sometimes it seems, as if in a fairy tale, that as science discovers more about the world’s intricate agency, we are seeing everything we intuited as children now coming true: that a solitary tree in a paddock feels lonely, that the winds are alive, that animals talk, that fish feel pain.’

― Delia Falconer, Signs and Wonders


Work by Lighthouse Arts Resident Julian Twigg, October 2022
Julian Twigg, Work from Lighthouse Arts Residency
LIn Onus - Reflections (Barmah Forest) 1994 - 1995
Lin Onus, Reflections (Barmah Forest) 1994 - 1995
Newborn with umbilical cord just cut. Colors, Feb 1996. Medical Stock photo
Charles Blackman, Game of Chess, Alice in Wonderland Series 1956