We are so excited to introduce the coordinator for this year’s Richell Prize for Emerging Writers, Hasib Hourani! Hasib Hourani is a Lebanese-Palestinian writer, editor, arts worker and educator living on unceded Wangal Country. Growing up across the Gulf, Hasib returned to so-called Australia in 2016 and began writing and publishing work in 2019. Hasib’s debut book will be published with Giramondo in September 2024.

We sat down to chat with Hasib about this year’s prize as well as the tenth anniversary of the Richell Prize.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Hasib! Apart from being this year’s amazing Richell Prize Coordinator – what do you get up to?

I’ve actually got a few different commitments and projects on rotation at the moment. As well as managing this year’s Richell Prize, I’m also Creative Producer at Liminal, where we’re working on an exciting public program for later this year. I’m the poetry editor for the upcoming issue of The Sunday Paper which will be coming out really soon. And I’m co-editing the next issue of Debris Magazine with my good friend Adalya Nash Hussein. I’m also working on some new writing of my own as well, so lots in the works and all really thrilling.

As you know, there’s a LOT that goes into making a literature prize happen! What excites you most about coordinating the Richell Prize for Emerging Writers in its 10th anniversary year?

The prize has been nourishing the industry for ten years, and what we have now is an outstanding group of alumni that are really important to the literary landscape of the continent. Simone Jordan, Aisling Smith and Else Fitzgerald, for example, were the prize winners in 2021, 2020 and 2019 respectively and were all programmed in last year’s festival. I really do value the symbiotic relationship that exists between all these literary schemes because it allows writers to build a practice that thrives in three dimensions. It’s gratifying to be a part of that.

Why do you think it’s important for new & emerging writers to submit to a prize like the Richell Prize?

Overall, I think the prize is good practice for anyone who wants to publish a book, regardless of whether or not you win or even get longlisted. It’s good to challenge yourself to write those 20,000 words, especially when you know they’re going to be read and assessed. It’s good to do it with a deadline in place. These kinds of prizes teach writers to put themselves out there and advocate for their work, which is something that often doesn’t come naturally to people and, paradoxically, can be a crucial part of getting published.

Do you have any handy hints or tips for writers hoping to submit their work?

Make sure that your writing sample starts strong. Readers and judges shouldn’t have to get through the first few pages before feeling invested in your writing, especially when there’s up to a thousand entries to read each year. Don’t overlook the synopsis and summary, it’s just as important as the writing sample.

All this talk about writing and books!! What have you been reading lately, or what are you excited to pick up soon?

I recently read Cher Tan’s Peripathetic, which was a really tight essay collection that taught me so much. It varies in style and tone but remains focused and cohesive in a way I think is quite hard for essay collections to nail. I also read Saraid de Silva’s Amma, a work of fiction about three generations of women across Aotearoa, Sri Lanka and Britain. On a line level, it’s so strong and so beautiful. They’re both debut books by writers who have so much more to say.

Submissions to the tenth anniversary Richell Prize for Emerging Writers opened on 22 April and close 11:59PM AEST, 7 July 2024.

To learn more and submit your work to the Richell Prize, click here!

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