Signals Young Writers Awards 2023

We were delighted to receive a very strong field of eighty one submissions for the Signals Young Writers Awards 2023. Our Judge, Mandy Hager gave this feedback – ‘I’m very impressed by the quality of the writing in all the shortlisted samples. All of them speak from the heart, some angry, some resigned, some ripe with compassion, others raw with hurt. Although it’s my job to pick the winners, all these works deserve praise and celebration. My congratulations to all the shortlisted writers. I hope you will take this encouragement and keep writing. Your stories are important’.
We are very happy to announce the young writers who have received an award in the three categories of Fiction, Non-fiction and Poetry. They receive a cash prize ($150 each) and the overall winner also receives an additional $150.
The winners are:
Poetry: Lauren Gibson for My Father
Non-fiction: Amelia Aratangi for Mourning The Living
Fiction: Youjia Jennifer Liu for Golden
Overall Winner:  Youjia Jennifer Liu
The judge, (Mandy) had this to say about the overall winning entry, Golden – ‘Though short, this is a story of great power. It bristles with anger, defiance and clear-sighted cynicism, from the point of view of a young person trying to navigate overwhelming family and cultural expectations, railing against those expectations while at the same time being bent by them into the desired shape, perpetuating the cycle’.
It is written in a unique way, not relying on the standard form of storytelling yet still taking the reader on a journey rich with cultural references and strength of voice. It manages to be both a revolutionary challenge and a surrender, underpinning the weight of conformity bearing down on the writer, through a series of clauses laying out the ‘rules’ and their consequences. The use of strong direct writing, compression of ideas, repetition, and a strong internal thread of prose rhythm makes it feel poetic, a reduction down to the guts of what really matters, taking the reader directly into the writer’s head with formidable force’.
Congratulations to all three winners and huge thanks to all those who submitted, to our judge Mandy Hager and also to Penguin Random House New Zealand for their support.
View the winning submissions via the links above.
The writers shortlisted for the awards include: Sarah-Kate Simons, Stella Weston, Andrea Ponsaran, Chantelle Xiong, and Elise Edmonds.
The Michael King Writers Centre is currently working on a new framework for our Young Writers Programme and hopes to be able to offer more exciting opportunities in 2024.
If you would like to join our newsletter database please email: with YWP Database in the Subject Line.