You have to be in it, to win it! The Lionel Bowen Young Writers Awards

In June of this year, I posted a blog about the poem I wrote and entered into the Lionel Bowen Young Writers Awards.  The poem was called “In The Ocean’s Arms”.  I received many lovely comments from all the readers.

I really wasn’t expecting to win, as it was my first time entering this competition.  That wasn’t the only reason I was not expecting to win. When I first showed it to my mum she said:

“It’s is a good poem, but you write short stories much better. Why don’t you write a short story.”

Not exactly a vote of confidence. So I showed it to my dad and asked him to read it. Dad’s comment was:

“Darling. I am not sure what it is about”

I thought it was good and I submitted it anyway.

Months later, on Halloween night, as I was dressing up for a fun night of ‘Trick or Treating’, my mum handed me a letter (which was already opened, even though it was addressed to me).

I looked at Mum and she said:

“I couldn’t help opening it. It’s from Randwick Council and it’s not Council Rates”.

I opened the pre-opened envelope (the joys of having a Greek mother) and unfolded the letter.  I shook with excitement, as I suddenly thought about the great possibilities that this letter may hold.

“Dear Eve

I am delighted to inform you that you have been awarded 1st place in the Lionel Bowen Young Writers Awards in the category Short Story/Poem 7-10 year olds.

Congratulations on this wonderful achievement!

You and your family are invited to the prize giving ceremony to be held at the University of New South Wales.

Barbara Todes

I was so excited I really can’t remember what happened after this!  I know I called my Dad at work and told him the news and at the end of the night I ended up with a huge collection of lollies and chocolates.

I told my school friends and my teachers about my win and they all congratulated me. My principal, Mr Thomas was very impressed and put me on the front page of the school newsletter.

Three days before the prize giving ceremony, where I would receive my prize (and an iPod Touch), my mum received a call, saying that I had been selected from all the prize winners from all the different age groups to read out my poem to the audience of VIPs.

It was a big hall, I was nervous as I had the Mayor of Randwick, Tony Bowen right next to me. Tony Bowen is the son of the long time Randwick Mayor that the award is named after. This made it even more special. His dad Lionel Bowen was the late deputy Prime Minister of Australia (deputy to Bob Hawke who was Labor’s longest-serving Prime Minister). He told us how he got his dad’s job in Randwick Council, 61 years after his dad was elected mayor. He was very kind and said I did a good job of reading my poem.


At the prize giving ceremony at the University of New South Wales, my Dad mentioned to me that I was very lucky the judge liked my style of writing. He later decided to ask the judge how the winners were chosen (if you know my Dad, this is exactly the type of thing he would do). Dad said that different people enjoy different types of writing, and asked if there was only 1 judge.  He was told that there were actually 2 judges (Christine Howard and Dr Stephanie Bishop from the University of NSW) reading each of the entries separately and both judges came up with the same list of winners. Dad isn’t always right.

It was a late night, but I really didn’t want it to come to an end.


The winners in each age category were:

Short Story/ Poem 7 – 10 years
1st Eve Cogan, Claremont College Randwick
2nd Logan Ingle, Banksmeadow Public School
3rd Maya Russell, St Aidens, Maroubra
Highly commended Aden Dix, St Brigids Coogee

Short Story/Poem 11 – 14 years
1st Jason Cleary-Gorton, St Andrews Cathedral School
(Read more on Jason Cleary-Gorton’s win)
2nd Lily Laycock, SCEGGS Darlinghurst
3rd Robert Tighe, Newington College
Highly commended Sneha Karria, Sydney Girls High School
Highly commended Evelyn Balleine, Woollahra Public School
Highly commended Asher Klein, Emmanuel School

Short story/poem 15 – 18 years
1st Nechama Basserabie, Moriah College
2nd Chloe Leung, Ascham School
3rd Gina Karlikoff, St George Girls High School
Highly commended Marina Carrier, SCEGGS Darlinghurst
Highly commended Klariss Yeomans, Randwick Girls High School

Short Play
Highly commended Lily Nguyen, Sydney Girls High School


Also in my School newsletter, I got a big congratulations from my principal Mr Doug Thomas on the front page. Here it is:


I want to encourage all schools to enter next year. Be like the French School called Lycée Condorcet (or The International French School Of Sydney) who received a special award, because almost everybody in their school entered.

You have got to be in it, to win it!