Results — 2020 Sargeson Prize

In 2020, we received more than 700 entries to the Open Division, and more than 100 for the Secondary Schools Division; a total of 860 stories. As you can imagine, it made choosing winners a very difficult task for our Chief Judge Owen Marsh.

The winning story from the Open Division will be published in Landfall. The second and third placing stories will be published in Mayhem, along with the winning story from the Secondary Schools Division. Details and publication dates will be confirmed shortly. In early 2021, we will also make the stories available on this webpage.

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Open Division Winners

First Place

Angela Pope (Dunedin): 'Lies'

"Sometimes I tell people I was a trapeze artist, how I flew through the air wearing a leotard, sequins sparkling under the lights of the Big Top. How I loved the whoosh of the air flying past my face, the thrill as my hands caught the bar at the very last moment. How my partner, Leonardo, was so shit hot that every girl in the troupe wanted to shag him."

Angela Pope was born in the US, grew up in the UK and moved to New Zealand when she was 26. After abandoning a legal career, she worked as a PA, proofreader and transcriber. She even worked briefly as a tea lady, which she enjoyed because she got to ring a large bell.  Finally, she settled on being a preschool teacher.

In between working and raising four children, she sometimes found time to write.  She has had short stories and a play broadcast on Radio New Zealand and has had short plays produced in festivals including Short and Sweet in Sydney and Melbourne.  In 2018, Angela won the Rhys Brookbanks Prize for Writing.  She is currently studying for a graduate diploma in Creative Writing through Massey University whilst also editing her first novel.  She lives in Dunedin with her husband, youngest son, three chickens and a small dog.

Second Place

Sally Franicevich (Auckland): 'The Consolidation Phase'

“How tall is that man?” Zac whispers to Seamus. “Seven foot? Is that what seven foot looks like? Do you think it’s part of the job description, being that tall? Do you think they breed them? Like there’s some sort of a puppy farm somewhere for National Outputs Managers?”

Sally Franicevich is an Auckland writer currently working on a Masters of Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. She has worked as a union organiser, an employment mediator and now works part-time as an adviser in employment relations.

Sally mainly writes short fiction and drafts of novels which, so far, she has abandoned. She won the Fish Publishing Prize in 2013 for her story, 'The Nut Machine', which was published in Fish Anthology 2013: 'The Nut Machine' and Other Stories. In 2016, her story 'Uncle Frank’s Turkeys' was shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize and published in the Bridport Prize Anthology of stories for that year. She’s also had work published in Moondance, Eclecticisms and Less than Three Press.

Third Place

David Coventry (Wellington): 'Apologies, Please'

"We lay still in the aftermath, quiet as the last several hours slowly remembered themselves behind this wall of mute silence pushing through the room. Dark then, immediate with the hush. The absence of light felt sudden, true, as if all our belongings had vanished in this hastily arranged blackness."

David Coventry is a Wellington-based writer. His debut, The Invisible Mile, described in Landfall as a work that ‘immediately places Coventry among the elite of New Zealand authors’, was translated into five languages and published in over 15 countries. The book won the Hubert Church Award for Best First Book at the 2016 Ockham’s and was also shortlisted for the main prize.

His second novel, Dance Prone, an epic of punk rock and artistic desire, has been described as 'astounding',  'intelligent, intimate and raw',  and ‘[one] of the finest in recent New Zealand literature.’

Highly Commended

Chris Yee (Wellington): 'Christchurch in Winter'

Majella Cullinane (Dunedin): 'Falling Softly'

Tobias Buck (Havelock North): 'Hecuba'

Edith Poor (Auckland): 'Thursday'

Susanna Elliffe (Paihia): 'White noise machines'

Secondary Schools Division Winners

First Place

Amelia Isac (Samuel Marsden Collegiate School): 'Nic'

"The woman continued to say 'Nicki', the name of Dad’s dead father, stroking his hands still held in hers as if they were the years that had passed without knowing him."

Amelia Isac is a Year 13 student at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington where she studies sciences, maths, English and music. She grew up in Palmerston North and Wellington, and has always had a broad interest in the arts, as well as being a keen football player. She is a classically trained pianist who has played solo and chamber music for a number of years. Amelia loves drama and live performance, and has always read widely. She particularly enjoys the poetry of Sappho and Emily Dickinson, and the works of Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf, from whom she draws inspiration in her own writing. Her story is based on the complexities of family history and of understanding culture and experience in different times and places.

Second Place

Kezia Rogers (Feilding High School): 'Twelve for a Wicked Curse'

"Sometimes he thinks that he wants to fly an aeroplane, seatbelt forcing him into the chair as he takes off and escapes into the atmosphere, dandelion seeds whirling in a storm of iceberg fluff."

Kezia Rogers (she/her and they/them pronouns) studies at Feilding High School, and is inspired to write by her experiences of LGBTQ+ identity, fantasy escapism, and mental health in a small rural town. She taught herself to read when she was three, decided she wanted to be an author when she was six, and now is discovering that dream coming true. Drama is another of Kezia’s passions, and she has performed at Regional Shakespeare Festivals for four years and placed third two years running in the Manawatu Secondary School Theatresports Competition. Her writing style is influenced by Romanticism and Ancient Greek poetry, alternative and emo song lyrics, and her diverse family history. Kezia has a growing list of supportive teachers, mentors and family members who have asked her to dedicate her first book to them. That may be in the future, but she is always exploring her creativity and can’t wait to write ‘The End’ on a page.

Third Place

Darcy Monteath (Logan Park High School): The 3 levels of mandatory obedience & sapien rebellion

"Five is me and twelve is him. May has filled the gutters with rotting leaves and wild plums and instant dinner packets dumped by careless creatures. We have gumboots on, red is mine and blue is his and the clouds above are purple."

Darcy Monteath is in Year 11 at Logan Park High School in Dunedin. She’s always enjoyed literature and books and loves to write in her spare time (whether that be poetry or short stories). She has grown up in the same city all of her life, so she has a strong connection to Dunedin and its culture. Darcy has only just begun entering her work into competitions and this year she won first place in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook student poetry competition and will be published in the 2021 edition. Darcy often writes about experiences or feelings, and she likes to incorporate special nostalgic objects or places that make the pieces of writing feel personal and individualised. Since a young age, writing has always been a passion of hers and she hopes to continue on her story-telling journey as she moves forward!

Highly Commended

Cadence Chung (Wellington High School): 'The Locket'

Leila Barber (Samuel Marsden Collegiate School): 'Copse/Corpse'

Anna Doyle (Marlborough Girls College): 'A Blind Love Story'

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