Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards 2015
– The Open Door
By Corinne Fenton
Last week was a very exciting and rewarding week – the culmination of four months reading, re-reading, agonising over and judging 6,000 poems received from primary school students Australia-wide. As this was my second year in the role, the mechanics and rules were easier but the volume of poems had increased which made the decision-making even more challenging. Following the decisions, there were reports to write and send off, followed by the final exciting part, the Dorothea Mackellar Awards National Presentation Ceremony held in Gunnedah, NSW on Friday 4th September.
First there was a warm welcome at the airport in Tamworth, at Gunnedah and at the Mackellar Motel, a quick walk about the town before an early night. Thursday was a day of school visits back in Tamworth, before a dinner at the Mackellar Motel to meet the young winners – always a thrill to meet these talented poets and put a name (and poem) to a face.
Friday morning’s first job was a radio interview on ABC Tamworth with two of the winners – upper and lower primary sections . . . I am so proud of these children and all the winners. We then raced on to the Award Ceremony where we heard from new president Jenny Farquhar, The Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, new patron the Hon. Margaret White and guest speaker Sophie Masson. Then came the awards themselves presented by fellow judge Nette Hilton (Senior Categories) and myself (Junior Categories).
I returned to Sydney Friday evening, retreating into the warm, cosy and welcoming Hughenden Hotel. After a walk with fellow author and SCBWI Regional Adviser, Susanne Gervey first thing Saturday morning about Centennial Park, we journeyed out to be welcomed by Paul Macdonald at The Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft for a special Father’s Day book signing and reading of my dog books – Bob the Railway Dog, Hey Dad, You’re Great, Little Dog and the Christmas Wish and The Dog on the Tuckerbox.
I arrived back home Saturday night – in need of a good night’s sleep! Thank you Dorothea Mackellar Committee for looking after me so well – especially Jenny, Alice, Russell, lovely Anne and all those warm hearts who do such a wonderful job for poetry and the children of Australia – thank you.