The Monash Prize for Undergraduate Creative Writing is now open for submissions. This year, the prize has been opened to honours students and students from New Zealand. The top prize is worth $4000, and the highest-placed Monash University student will receive $1000.
Joshua Allen spoke to Tully Hansen, a previous recipient of the prize, to hear about his experience.
What were/are you studying when you entered the Monash Prize?
At the time I was in my final year of the Bachelor of Creative Writing at RMIT – the end of a seven-year quest to complete some form of higher education.
What was your winning entry about?
Grey Throughs in Break Rooms was a collage poem suite circling the subject of ‘revolution’, the theme for the prize in its first year. I’ve an abiding interest in the mechanics of composition – Dada, OULIPO, programmable poetry and Kenneth Goldsmith’s ‘uncreative writing’ have all been pretty instrumental to my development as a writer – so the piece was something of a digital cut-up obsessed with its own status as such, enlisting Wagner, Wikipedia, web copy and William Burroughs to the cause of unpacking the idea (or ideas) of revolution.
Besides winning the prize money, what other benefits did you receive from the prize?
The prize and subsequent publication were both feathers in an early career cap, and rank up there with the 2012 EWF Spelling Bee Championship (undefeated) in terms of career highlights to date. I was also lucky enough, after a reading of the piece, to be wined and dined (on publisher’s dime, no less!) alongside the likes of Sonya Hartnett, Peter Goldsworthy and Toby Ralph… though I’m sure I spent most of the evening ordering the least expensive things off the menu and trying not to draw attention to myself by opening my mouth.
What are you up to now? Working on something new?
A couple of years down the line and I’m still hanging about RMIT, finishing Honours in Media and Communication on the topic of Twitter bots as literature. I’ve drifted further digital, with an ‘expanding essay’ in last year’s Digital Overland special edition, and upcoming speaking engagements at the Marco Polo Festival of Digital Literature and the Electronic Literature Organization Conference in Milwaukee later this year. Exciting times!
What advice would you give to students who are considering entering the prize?
So long as you submit, it’s never too late to be in with a chance – my piece went in all of three seconds before the deadline! And while it can be a great opportunity to find a home for completed, polished work you might already have lying around, it can also be a wonderful chance to work up something outside your usual form or style, and see where that leads…
Here is a short excerpt of Tully’s winning entry Grey Throughs in Break Rooms:
When I was engaged, my father,
a diehard traditionalist,
told my rather bolshie fiancé he was glad
I had picked a guy who wouldn’t be scared
to use a shotgun against the revolutionaries
Dad thought were hovering in the wings.
Alex smiled and nodded and told me later
he’d be using a shotgun all right
but in among the revolutionaries.
‘In five years,’ he said,
‘a computer program will win a Pulitzer —
and I’ll be damned if it’s not our technology.’
(Should it occur, the prize
would not be awarded to abstract code,
but to its human creators.)
Friends, rockers, countrymen!
Lend us your ears
and we’ll subject them
to loud rock music.
Tighten your togas,
strap on the dancing sandals
and join us.
Soundwave is technology gone wrong.
Here Lethem claims,
‘The notion of a college text is,
of course, not original to me.’
Tully Hansen was the winner of the Monash Prize in 2012. He also contributed to The Emerging Writer in the same year, which is available on our website here.