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2022 Calibre Essay Prize Winner and Shortlist

istinguished classical musician Simon Tedeschi has won the sixteenth Calibre Essay Prize, worth a total of $7,500. 

Tedeschi receives $5,000 for his essay ‘This Woman My Grandmother’, while the runner-up, Sarah Gory receives $2,500 for her submission, ‘Ghosts, Ghosts Everywhere’. The winning essay was published in the May 2022 issue of ABR. The runner-up essay appeared in the September 2022 issue.

The judges – Declan Fry, Beejay Silcox and Peter Rose, Editor of ABR – selected a shortlist of twelve essays from a field of 569 entries from seventeen different countries. The ten other essays making up the shortlist are listed below.

Congratulations to Simon Tedeschi and all the writers shortlisted in the 2022 Calibre Essay Prize!

In ‘This Woman My Grandmother’, Tedeschi explores his grandmother’s story:

‘My grandmother, a Polish Jew, the only survivor of a family obliterated by the Nazis, wrote a memoir of her wartime years shortly before she died sixteen years ago. Only recently was I able to bring myself to read it. When I did, it caused not only a torrent of memory to erupt but spurred me to find out more about this tormented woman who, despite her vociferousness and overbearing presence, was the bearer of secrets too painful to divulge.’

The judges commented on Simon Tedeschi’s essay:

This year’s winning essay has a powerful, memorable duality: it’s at once forceful and gentle, timeless and timely. While Tedeschi plays with eternal themes – the fragility of memory and intergenerational anguish – there is also a quiet urgency to his account of his grandmother, Lucy’s, complicated legacy. We stand on the cusp of a great forgetting: the Holocaust is fading from living memory, and Covid is ravaging our elderly. As we lose our story-keepers and war rages in Europe, it feels vital not just to honour the past, but to acknowledge its knots and nuances. That is what Tedeschi has done in this remarkable essay, with grace, care, and glorious prose craft.

2022 Calibre Essay Prize Shortlist:

Linda Atkins (NSW): ‘Shouting Abortion’
Jessie Berry-Porter (Vic): ‘Milos As a Symbol’
Chrysanthi Diasinos (NSW): ‘Οι παρχαρομάνες και το χρυσόραμμαν’
Michael Garbutt (NSW): ‘The Museum of Mankind’
Savannah Hollis (Vic): ‘The Diary of a Bottom Bitch’     
Heather Taylor Johnson (SA): ‘The Giving and Taking Away of Voice’
Michaela Keeble (NZ): ‘The Bind: On Reading’    
Emma Shortis (Vic): ‘American Guns’
Kirsten Tranter (USA): ‘The Time of Writing’
Miriam Webster (Vic): ‘The Trouble with Endings’

1 Comment

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    Absolutely stunning essay. I listened to Simon read on the podcast and it almost brought me to tears. Simon writes as beautifully as he plays. Thank you for sharing this with the world.

    13 May 2022 Posted by christine betts

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