Pilgrim Artists Festival — 2019 Youth Literary Finalists
Writers for this year's festival had a maximum of 500 words to explore our festival theme of Grief and Hope from a Christian perspective. All entries were judged anonymously by an independent team of literary curators. That is, the curators had no idea whose work they were evaluating.
The curators then chose three finalists in each category at each age level for the public to vote on in person at the festival. We encouraged everyone to vote who attended the 2019 Pilgrim Artists Festival (held 12-15 July, 121 Huon Hwy in Huonville).
Below you'll find the people's choice winners of the $50 W.R. Gingell and $20 W.R. Gingell prizes for young adult and child writers. You'll also find the non-winning finalists. (You can read the adult entries here.)
Child (12 and under) Winner
My Very Hungry Grandpa
By Layla Imms
In the light of the moon, Great Grandma Sicily lay on a bed.
Early one Sunday morning, the warm sun came up, and ‘pop!’ out came a tiny and very hungry Grandpa Kevin.
He started to look for some food.
At age 5 he tried to learn how to skateboard, but had 1 crash.
At age 8 he ate 2 vanilla and chocolate cakes in one go.
At age 10 he put 3 toads in his mother’s bed.
At age 20 he married Grandma Veronica on April 4th.
At age 38 he invented an ice cream maker that made 5 ice creams at once.
On his 40th birthday he ate through 1 ice cream, 1 whole watermelon, 1 lollipop, 1 lemon (ewwww!), 1 bunch of grapes, and 1 bowl of cereal.
That night he had a tummy ache.
As the years went by he grew, and he grew, and he grew, and he became my very fat Grandpa.
Then one day he died, and I imagine that in heaven he became as happy and full of colour as a beautiful butterfly.
Child (12 and under) Finalists (Fiction)
By Eve Baehr
I awoke. I felt the sleeping mat under me. It was just a dream, I must forget. But yet, wasn’t it the same one that Achish, the servant, had two times? The one where an old man pushed down our Temple. But the strange thing.... Wait, I needed to accompany my father to the Temple!
I dressed and almost ran out of my room and into Achish. “Mitinti, your father is worse. He would like to speak to you.
I nodded and walked to my parents’ room. I pulled back the curtain that hung over the doorway and stepped in. My father lay on his sleeping mat, looking scared. He beckoned me. I walked over to him. “What is wrong?”
“I had that dream,“ he said. “I think the dream means that bad will happen. Either what we have seen or something else. You will have to go with Achish to do my duties to the gods at the Temple. To save our crops. But come back as soon as possible. Be careful, my son.”
A while later, Achish and I stepped in to the Temple. It was so crowded we had to wait. Just as it was our turn we were pushed out of the way by a small procession!
I saw Achish turn white and knew I had done the same. It was the same man in our dreams!! So many thoughts rushed through my head but the clearest one was that we needed to get out. But just as this thought passed through my mind, someone called, “You over there.” It was one of the men in the procession. He jeered, “Come and help me walk Samson the Mighty Israelite over to those pillars.”
The crowd roared with laughter as I led him to the pillars. So that’s who he was… the one who had done so many things for his God. But that was many years ago. People thought he was long gone. Samson spoke to me in what used to be a strong voice, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the Temple, so that I may lean against them.” Then Samson whispered, “O sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then Samson turned to me, “Run as fast as you can away from this Temple.”
I thought about the dream. My father. Our crops. The gods. And for some reason, I trusted the Israelite. I don’t know why, but I ran. I ran so fast Achish ran out of the Temple after me. As we ran down the hill we heard screams. And then we looked back to see the Temple crumble.
One morning three weeks later, my family and I rode past the remains of the Temple, with all our possessions, heading east, to search for Samson’s god and a new life.
Over the Horizon
By Lucy Isham
War was in China. Bullets were flying in all directions. Mr. Wong was in a meeting in the highest building of Beijing.
“Mr. Wong, I have bad news for you” sighed General Chan. “You may go to Australia, but…” He paused. “You have to send only one of your daughters.”
Silence filled the room. Mr. Wong opened his mouth but nothing came out.
“I’m sorry sir,” mumbled the General as he walked out.
Coco was a refugee. She had once lived in a tiny apartment with her mum, dad, and her big sister, Jasmine. Now she was far out at sea on a small ship with a large group of hungry, tired, and homesick people. There was moaning and groaning and everyone was sick of each other. Coco hated it too. When she was leaving, her mum said to her, “You won’t always be lost. There is always another chance over the horizon.”
There had been a car coming down the driveway. It was the girls’ dad. He shuffled inside looking glum.
“Dad, what happened? Why are you sad? What’s wrong?” pestered the girls.
“Um...” He glanced at the clock. “Oh! Girls it’s your bedtime!"
“No! No, it isn’t! It’s only 7:30!” Screamed Jasmine as her Dad pulled her to bed. Coco glanced up to her Mum, and then reluctantly walked to bed.
“Land ahoy!” Hollered the ship’s watch. It was early morning and the sun was rising. The world seemed beautiful now, not grey and dull like the day before.
“I wonder what’s for breakfast?” someone groaned.
“A tiny raisin?” Coco managed a smirk.
The ship’s breakfast was not the best. Coco looked into the pink and orange clouds that filled the sky, saw seagulls flying recklessly in the colourful atmosphere, “I wish I could be like them,” muttered Coco, “flying free in the sky.”
Lost in thought, Coco spotted something that caught her eye. There in the distance, over the horizon, was land – the land Coco had been searching for for so long.
Coco’s Mum, Amanda Wong, gathered her notebook, pulled out a piece of paper and started to write a letter. She began:
Dear Coco, how are you going? The house has been very quiet without you. Jasmine has moved into high school and we got a large sum of money because you moved. Your father and I hope to visit you soon and maybe even move. I miss you a lot. Love Mummy.
She went to the post office and slipped it in. “Please reach Coco, little letter,” she whispered.
The land was getting closer, and Coco could see that there were kids playing on shore. When the ship finally boarded, a man walked up to Coco. “I’m going to look after you Coco, and I believe this is for you”.
In his hand was a letter from her Mum. Then Coco realised that she might have a new family, a new house and a new hope.
Child (12 and under) Winners (tied)
By Tahlia Field
BASED ON TRUE EVENTS
Margaret wiped away a tear as she stood up to sing Amazing Grace at her mother’s funeral. Life would never be the same again.
It was only days before her 21st, and the passing of her mother had been a shock to all her family.
That night, John, Margaret’s father, invited the piano player from the funeral—Samuel Matthews—back home to dinner. John asked Samuel if he could teach his youngest daughters to play piano. So, Samuel started coming once a week.
Unknown to Margaret, one day when Samuel arrived home after teaching, his mother met him at the door. “Son,” she said, “you are going up to John’s house often. Are you interested in one of his daughters?”
“Not the ones I’m teaching. If any, it would be the eldest,” he replied. “But she’s already going out with someone else.”
A few weeks later the startling news came to Samuel that Margaret had broken up with her man. Only three weeks after that, Samuel and Margaret’s engagement was announced!
On a frosty winter’s day a beaming-faced Margaret made her vows and returned down the aisle as young ‘Mrs Matthews.’
Nine months later, after a long and hard pregnancy, Margaret wiped away a tear as she proudly handed John his first grandchild, Tahlia. Life would never be the same again.
In the years to come, Samuel and Margaret went on to have seven more children, and John, who’s now with his wife in heaven, went on to have seventeen grandchildren.
A Very White Christmas
By Lydia Reed
I believe that Christmas day is not the nicest part of the holiday season. Sure, the big day does get really exciting, and it definitely is fun to give and get presents at Christmas time. But the reason it's so thrilling is because of how long people have been waiting, and that's my favorite part of the Christmas season.
Why? Well, some people might not notice it, but lots of memorable things happen at all different points during Christmas time. Families have lots of traditions and memories that usually take place before or after the 25th. After all, Christmas is only one day.
I'd like to tell about a very memorable Christmas that I experienced about two years ago. Our family usually goes to our grandparents' house for Christmas every year; they have a very big house, so usually the rest of the family comes too. But on this Christmas, something happened to prevent the usual plan. I had to read a Scripture at church at the Christmas Eve evening service, meaning that we couldn't leave until Christmas morning. This meant we would probably get there in the afternoon. This was hard to think about because I knew that the extended family would be having Christmas morning without us. Thankfully we didn't have to get on the road right away and could have a couple hours to spend with immediate family, including a couple of presents. But soon we did leave. I felt good knowing that we were on the road going to our grandparents for Christmas day.
"Nothing can stop us now," I thought briskly as we pulled out of the driveway with the car fully packed. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Everyone was getting along (mostly), and I thought about how a long roadtrip is the perfect way to spend time with my family. I dozed off and we drove on. But suddenly we stopped, and I opened my eyes. We were in a giant snowstorm, and all the cars were stopped as far as I could see.
"We might have to go back," I thought, but when I looked behind me there were cars backed up as far as I could see.
I felt all hope slip away; we would be stuck here all Christmas day with nothing to do. At this very minute my cousins were probably opening dozens of presents with the rest of the family. I felt jealousy bubble up inside me like a carbonated drink.
The next two hours were miserable. All my siblings were in a bad mood, as well as me and my parents. We didn't move an inch for two hours, and there was absolutely nothing to do. I felt the knot of jealousy tighten.
Finally we were able to get there, but just in time for Christmas dinner. After dinner we did stockings and presents, and I really did think it was worth it. I really, really did.
Child (12 and under) Winner
Hope and Grief
By Acacia Field
Hope does good things,
grief can too.
Hope’s a gift from
God to you.
Hope is loving,
hope brings life.
Grief is sickness
and brings strife.
Grief seems bad,
but as I said,
Grief can sometimes
raise your head.
Grief can make you
look up high
And call on God
although you cry.
So just remember
in your life,
In your grief or
in your strife,
God is on His
And He will give His
Child (12 and under) Finalists (Poetry)
By Galilee Dekker
Frangipanis wither and die
It's so sad that it makes me cry
But new frangipanis grow on the tree
They're prettily made just for me.
By Sophie Hall
When I have hope or have hoped
I think I can cope with distress.
When someone says no to my hope
I will not hope any less.
Young Adult — Fiction + Poetry
Young Adult (13-17) Winners
Unlike our child and adult brackets, we had a very limited number of young adult entries this year. Of a small handful of entries, the curators selected one finalist in poetry and one finalist in fiction. We congratulate Flynn and Aisha on winning the $50 W.R.Gingell Prize in their categories. And we encourage all our young adult writers to enter next year's festival.
Reflection in the Mist
By Aisha Carpenter
People sobbing, an organ playing a sorrowful lullaby and the empty coffin being carried. The empty coffin of my dearest child, Isla. But all I can concentrate on is the foreign face staring back at me from the polished pipes of the organ. Every time I look at it, the face seems to shift into young Isla’s. I suddenly jerk my head sideways, hating myself for revealing to everyone the tears sliding slowly and silently down my face. At the same time wanting and not wanting to see her again. Even if it is through the reflection of my face.
I find myself again looking at that familiar-yet-so-foreign face of Isla and I. I feel a pull. I feel myself being tugged gently into the polished pipes and being squeezed around tight corners. All the while remembering the last time I saw Isla. How joyful and relaxed she was on that wooden swing in the forest. Until the mist came. Whisking her away from me, never to be seen again.
All of a sudden the atmosphere changes and it gets warmer. I can smell a rich earthy scent with a slight twang of honey. Then my ears suddenly clear and I can hear bird song and lazy insects buzzing. I do an impressive back-flip to hype me up but unfortunately when I land I slip on the wet leaves that cover the forest floor.
I struggle to my feet as the forest goes deathly quiet around me. Then I turn around to see black whisp-like tentacles drifting out from behind the trees…and I run as fast as I can. Darting in and out of trees. In and out. In and out. All the time taking distressed, quick furtive glances behind my shoulder. Big mistake. I trip over a root and go sprawling. Then the black mist is on top of me.
Dark and dank tentacles claw at my throat trying to squeeze every breath out of my lungs. Then suddenly Isla appears out of nowhere and drags me out of the mist. But the mist has one of its tentacles firmly around Isla’s waist. As soon as she lets go of me it drags her thrashing into its dark, dank, depths.
“Noooo! I can’t loose you again!”
I desperately shriek as I plunge into the icy depths of the mist. I rip Isla from its grasp and fling her to safety and hope. No - pray, she will run far, far away. When the mist has finally pushed out the last wisp of breath I have, I remember my name. I might not know where I am, or what this mist is made of. But at least I know who I am and that all my grief and hope was for something. For Isla.
By Flynn Gorman
I was a corpse, an empty form,
wand’ring forever, through dark, alone.
A starless night, a quiet storm,
life was to come, I thought I'd known.
I turned my head, my life begun,
my flesh knew warmth from blood anew,
my world's first breath, it filled my lung,
my feet knew where to travel to.
For her I longed, I dreamt brave dreams,
I heard a voice 'said “all…" (was) “...fine".
I caught her eye, and mind it seems,
'cause next I knew, the girl was mine.
I held her tight, she kissed my cheek,
her face was beauty: pure and true.
She made me melt; a strong man weak,
I loved this girl, of that I knew.
"I won't leave", her voice unsure,
uneasiness, it filled my soul.
A hug from you, the only cure,
to mend the broken heart you stole.
and now, my heart is torn from me,
and leaving me behind, to die.
Complete, to split, a frown, from glee,
I now remember how to cry.
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