Aireys Inlet writer wins national prize

May 6, 2021 BY

Aireys Inlet writer Gregory Day was announced the winner of the 2021 Nature Writing Prize during the Sydney Writers Festival. Photo: SUPPLIED

ACCLAIMED Aireys Inlet author Gregory Day has taken out the top prize in the national nature writing competition.

In its sixth edition of the biennial award, the Nature Conservancy Australia created the competition to celebrate the art of nature writing and encourage a greater appreciation for the natural landscape.

With his piece titled The Watergaw, Mr Day writes about the landscapes and nature in the area he lives and Inverleigh where his ancestors settled.

“The symbolism of the broken rainbow as the core motif is to describe the complexity of using English to write about this landscape which has had so much trouble,” he said.

“The broken rainbow is a symbol for fragmentation and that we are all in this state of hybrids in Wadawurrung Country with the complex inheritance we all have.”

In his winning piece he writes “there is a language that comes from here, is of here, that sounds of here, in timbre and noun, beat and retroflex, and that we were never taught.”

During the last 25 years the acclaimed author has often reflected on Wadawurrung country in his work.

“It is not just inspiration it is a way of being and coming to terms with what has gone on with history of landscape how much we love it and how complex that love can be,” he said.

Since its inception the Nature Writing Prize has attracted some of Australia’s most impressive writers with a top prize of $7,500 and having their piece published in Griffith Review as a multimedia essay.

As the winner, Mr Day will also receive the Rosina Joy Buckman Award which provides a two-week residency at Life at Springfield in the New South Wales Southern Highlands.

“It is always a great thing to have your work recognised particularly because it means more people will read it and it is just an indication of the effort and chance to really evolve the way we are in the landscape,” he said.

“It is not just a site for real estate, it is sacred country, it is in our memories and our hearts and it is not for sale and this sort of work is about making it clear.”

The award comes as just one of Mr Day’s many accomplishments as a novelist, poet and musician with some of his accolades including the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, the Elisabeth Jolley Prize and the Patrick White Award for his ongoing body of work.

2021 prize judge and critically acclaimed Aboriginal writer, Tara June Winch, called The Watergaw a “beautiful and subtle work”.

“Striking for its nuance and accomplishment in expressing nostalgia, and the language of belonging to a place,” she said.

Mr Day was officially announced as the overall winner ahead of five finalists at the Sydney Writers Festival which took place on April 30.

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