Evelyn Araluen wins 2022 Stella Prize for Drop Bear

UQP-Evelyn-Araluen-photo-by-Stuart-SpenceEvelyn Araluen’s innovative debut collection of poetry and prose, Dropbear, has been announced as the winner of the tenth annual Stella Prize.

The winner of the 2022 Stella Prize was announced at a special celebration of Australian women’s writing presented in partnership with State Library Victoria. The gala event marked ten years since the inaugural Stella Prize was awarded.

The prize was presented by award-winning Bundjalung author and the 2022 Stella Prize Chair of Judges, Melissa Lucashenko. Claudia Karvan, acclaimed film and television actor and producer, hosted the evening.

The $50,000 Stella Prize, generously supported by the Wilson Foundation, was awarded to Evelyn Araluen for her debut collection of poetry and prose Dropbear. With 2022 marking the first year that poetry publications have been eligible for the Stella Prize, it is particularly significant that Dropbear has been selected as the most original, excellent, and engaging work by an Australian woman or non-binary writer.

“When you read Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear you’ll be taken on a wild ride. Like the namesake of its title, this collection is simultaneously comical and dangerous,” said Melissa Lucashenko, Chair of the 2022 Stella Prize Judges.

“If you live here and don’t acquire the necessary local knowledge, the drop bear might definitely getcha! But for those initiated in its mysteries, the drop bear is a playful beast, a prank, a riddle, a challenge and a game.”

“Dropbear is remarkably assured for a debut poetry collection, and I think we can safely say it announces the arrival of a stunning new talent to Australian literature. Congratulations, Evelyn,” said Lucashenko.

“Winning the Stella Prize is literally a dream come true. I’ve been following the prize for years – for the length of my own writing aspirations,” said Evelyn Araluen. “I hoped that one day I’d be able to write a novel good enough to be considered, and when I wrote Dropbear I never imagined it would be considered for such a celebrated award.”

“I’m deeply interested in the lives, histories, and dreams of women and gender diverse writers in Australian publishing, and it’s an honour to be recognised by a prize designed to champion those stories. There aren’t words to explain how thrilled I am to win,” said Araluen.

“I’m delighted to congratulate Evelyn Araluen on winning the 2022 Stella Prize,” said Jaclyn Booton, Executive Director of Stella. “Dropbear is an extraordinarily powerful book that has been crafted by a fiercely intelligent writer with stylistic excellence. It offers readers the opportunity to see this country, and the stories it tells about itself, with a newfound clarity and veracity.

“It’s not often that a poetry collection sits in the storefronts of bookstores, but I’m thrilled to soon see this incredible collection front and centre – and in the hands of countless readers – upon its announcement as this year’s winner,” said Booton.

The evening concluded with a special announcement regarding Stella’s ambitious fundraising campaign, the Stella Forever Fund. Thanks to the collective generosity of major philanthropists and Stella’s grassroots community, Stella is thrilled to announce it has successfully reached its endowment target of $3 million – securing prize money for the annual Stella Prize in perpetuity.

In recognition of achieving this milestone, Stella has awarded a further $10,000 to Araluen – bringing the total prize money for the winner of the 2022 Stella Prize to $60,000.

Previous winners of the Stella Prize have included: Evie Wyld, 2021 (The Bass Rock); Jess Hill, 2020 (See What You Made Me Do); Vicki Laveau-Harvie, 2019 (The Erratics); Alexis Wright, 2018 (Tracker); Heather Rose, 2017 (The Museum of Modern Love); Charlotte Wood, 2016 (The Natural Way of Things); Emily Bitto, 2015 (The Strays); Clare Wright, 2014 (The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka); and Carrie Tiffany, 2013 (Mateship with Birds).

Over the past ten years, the Stella Prize has become a flagship feature of the Australian literary calendar, significantly boosting book sales and raising author profiles. For more information, visit: www.thestellaprize.com.au for details.

Image: Evelyn Araluen – photo by Stuart Spence | UQP