Creative Writing graduate wins Elizabeth Jolley Prize

November 26, 2013

Murdoch University graduate and sessional lecturer Dr Michelle Michau-Crawford has won the 2013 Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize for her story ‘Leaving Elvis’.

Announced at Gleebooks in Sydney on October 28, the Australian Book Review-run competition saw ‘Leaving Elvis’ beat out 1200 other entries, including co-shortlisted stories Rebekah Clarkson’s ‘The Five Truths of Manhood’ and Kim Mahood’s ‘The Accident’.

Ms Michau-Crawford received $5000 for the win, presented by internationally acclaimed Australian novelist David Malouf.

Judges of the Award described the award-winning story as “a story of regret and adolescent memories – a story containing a relinquished baby – and the pain of silence” and praised Michelle’s character development.

“I am so excited about the award, and it is great to get the confidence boost from others liking your writing,” Dr Michau-Crawford said.

Dr Michau-Crawford said ‘Leaving Elvis’ was adapted from the work submitted for her Honours degree at Murdoch.

“I originally wrote the piece with a far stronger sense of place but I wanted to explore the freedom created by taking it out of the story,” she said.

Dr Michau-Crawford first ventured into writing when raising young children up in the Pilbara.

“I used to go to the local library and the librarian would try to source books that I would enjoy,” she said.

“I got hooked on Fremantle Press books, and in particular, the writing of Elizabeth Jolley.

“When the kids were at school I decided to enrol in a literature course at Murdoch and I have been associated with the university as either a student or teacher ever since.”

Dr Michau-Crawford completed most of her undergraduate degree externally and then enrolled on campus to do her Honours degree under Deborah Robertson.

“I wanted to experience campus life and experience the support of working closely with a supervisor,” Dr Michau-Crawford said.

“It was fantastic, and I followed up the experience by embarking on a PhD with Dr Simone Lazaroo at Murdoch in 2006.”

Dr Michau-Crawford has recently completed the novel resulting from her PhD and she is now looking forward to starting on a collection of short stories.

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