Announcing the Short and Long listed Proposals: The Emma Press Call for Essay Collections

We are so thrilled to announce the shortlisted and longlisted proposals from our recent call for essay collections.

We received 124 proposals overall. The proposals we decided to shortlist are all highly original in style and content, as well as considered in approach.

Our shortlisted authors will be sending us more work to read. We will then decide which collections to move forward with! 

But in the meantime, we wanted to celebrate their work and say a few words about why each proposal captivated us. We’ll also be posting excerpts from the proposals onto our blogs over the next few months.

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted for trusting us with your work.

Shortlisted Authors

Priska Astasari with The Canned Memories

We were struck by the energy of Priska Astasari’s proposal. We were also really fascinated by the intricate descriptions of the canning process. Canned food is available all over the world, and it was really interesting to read about something we rarely think about through the lens of globalisation.

Rebecca Balfourth with How to Love a Scar

Rebecca Balfourth’s proposal promises meditations on mental illness, sexuality and race, based on Balfourth’s lived experience and beyond. We were won over by Balfourth’s sample essay, which uses some of the best direct speech we’ve read in a while. Balfourth’s style is confident, subtle, and controlled.  Just some very good writing here.

Laura Brown with Place Notes

Laura Brown sent us an excellent proposal that thoughtfully considered the structure and purpose of her collection, as well as its potential market. Her writing samples were equally elegant, and we loved the way she wove Scots into the structure of her essays to reiterate the importance of names and language.

Caroline Harris with Scrub: Journeys into the undergrowth

Caroline Harris has a really interesting approach to her nature writing. She has an elastic ability to move between half-memory, grounded and physical writing, and philosophy. We loved Harris’ interpretation of scrub as ‘the ever-moving edge between the human-made and the other-than-human’, and were appreciative of her attack on the suburban lawn.

Krish Jeyakumar with How I Met My Dead Grandparents

Krish Jeyakumar’s proposal included a summary for an essay called ‘Egg Coffee’ that caused Pema to tear up in under 300 words. We really loved the way their food stories centre family and community. And it made us hungry, which is an extremely important part of food writing.

Florentyna Leow with How Kyoto Breaks Your Heart

Florentyna Leow has an incredible way with imagery, always picking the perfect words to cut to exactly what a place or thing or person means to her. Leow really understands how to write an essay. We loved her elegantly plotted piece about harvesting luscious persimmons during a period spent working as a tour guide in Kyoto.

Judith Mendoza-White with Tracings From Home

We were very struck by Judith Mendoza-White’s proposal, which centred on the experiences of migration of women in her family, from Italy to Argentina to Australia. We loved her loving writing about her grandmother Rosa. Mendoza-White has a real gift for characterisation. Her storytelling left us wanting to read more.

Isabella Naiduki with A Season of Soliloquies 

We loved Isabella Naiduki’s original and effortless style. Her writing feels immensely purposeful and clear. Each word is like a next step, taking you exactly where you are meant to go. Naiduki contrasts this groundedness with the content of her writing, in which the writer is challenged by spectres and memory ghosts. It’s a really compelling technique.

Nuala O’Connor with The Hope Cure

We loved spending time with Nuala O’Connor’s writing. She drew us in with her limpid, vivid descriptions of perimenopausal rage, and kept us hooked as she dug deep into what it means to be a writer. Her interest in gore was compelling, as was her use of the coda. O’Connor’s style is just gorgeous.

Lillian Telford with Kangaroo Paw

Lillian Telford’s witty and thoughtful proposal of a collection about sex and sexuality in Australia gripped us. Telford is thinking deeply about what it means to grow up queer and sexually active in Australia, and how the sexual politics of our schools and teenage years impact our future relationships with desire and our bodies.

Longlisted Authors

Maureen Boyle with The Way We Are Living

Alexi Francis with Dust Night Dawn

Megan Holland with Moments of Keith

Aiysha Jahan with Roosters, Hyenas and Other Animals

Mab Jones with Bog Witch

Shringi Kumari with Theorems of Jigamma: Dissecting Complex Familial Operations

Sarah Lusack with Finding Faith

Lucy Sweeney with I Was Here: Graffiti, And What It Can Tell Us About Making Art

Georgia Wall with Eat Your Words

Irene Watson with Drying Out the Old House

[Cover image from the open-source archives of the Smithsonian Institute, a cyanotype made by Thomas Smillie. Source: Flickr Commons]

Pema is the eCommerce Executive at the Emma Press.
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