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Kirli Saunders announced as inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award

Fri, Jul 19, 2019

Magabala Books would like to extend the warmest congratulations to Kirli Saunders, the inaugural winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award for her rhythmic junior verse-novel, Mother Speaks. Presented at the WA Premier’s Book Awards ceremony at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth last Friday, Kirli was awarded $15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books.

Launched as part of the 2018 WA Premier’s Book Awards, in a partnership between the State Government of Western Australia and Magabala Books, the Daisy Utemorrah Award is a national award that recognises excellence and seeks to grow Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander writing for younger readers. The award is named in honour of the late Daisy Utemorrah, who was an elder of the Wunambal people from the Mitchell Plateau area in the far north Kimberley, and one of the founders of Magabala Books. Utemorrah was an award-winning poet, author, community leader and passionate educator.



The Daisy Utemorrah Award is generously supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund and the Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards. The Award is also supported in partnership with Post Pre-Press.

Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman announced the complete shortlist for the 2018 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards on June 4:

 Of the shortlisted manuscripts the judges said:



Coincidence is a beautiful exploration of Aboriginal cultural values and the power of ancient knowledges in the present day. The Elder characters in the novel are particularly well drawn, depicted with a warmth, depth and humour that leaps off the page and draws the reader in their lives from the outset of the book.”



Mother Speaks is a lovely, lyrical exploration of the wisdom of the earth. The gentle rhythm of the verse speaks to the patterns and cycles of the nature, and every line holds deep meaning that can be revisited many times over – this a story that will delight adults and children alike."


"Tracks of the Missing is a suspenseful crime thriller that draws the reader in from the first pages and never lets go. The tension steadily escalates as events unfold and the text becomes richer with layers of meaning that build to a surprising climax that weaves together past,
present and future.”

“The response to the Daisy Utemorrah Award represents the remarkable strength of contemporary First Nations storytelling and signals a bright future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing of junior and YA fiction. The stories we read were diverse in genre, scope and theme,” Rachel Bin Salleh, Publisher Magabala Books.