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Saturday, October 26, 2013


The National Arts Festival again partners with author Joanne Hichens for the second annual Short Sharp Stories Award for South African short-story fiction. An anthology of selected stories will again be published from submissions to the award. All writers are asked to submit a story under the theme “Adults Only…” this year.

“There are few writers of literary merit who approach the subjects of sex and sensuality. Advertisers and pornographers have annexed not only the terrain, but the language. It is very difficult to write about sex because the language is so limited, so blunt. Yet we can’t hand over such an important topic to commerce,” said Dawn Garisch, winner of the first Short Sharp Stories Awards in 2013.

This year’s collection will therefore be devoted to stories with an element of sex and sensuality. “We’re looking for stories that are raw, dangerous and powerful, as well as those that are delicate, sensitive and funny. Your story can titillate the senses, it can be highly provocative. It can be sacred or profane, playfully perverse or deeply poignant. It can be tender, reserved, and full of self-possessed restraint, or it can speak of rapacious appetites. The sex and/or sensuality must however be part of a strong, compelling narrative,” said Hichens.

The organisers are looking for stories that will challenge stereotypical thinking. “We want stories that explore the struggles and celebrations around sexuality in whatever form it takes, bearing in mind that Love can be heroic, it can be tragic, it can make you laugh and cry,” she added.

The prize-winning stories of the second collection, selected from the stories to be published by a panel of independent judges, will be announced at a launch event at the 2014 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

In addition to being published in the anthology, there are cash prizes to be won of R35,000. The winner will receive R20,000 and the three runners-up will receive R5,000 each. Plus each published writer apart from the winners will receive an honorarium of R500.

The big news is that Helena S. Paige, Helen Moffet, Paige Nick and Sarah Lotz will write the foreword.

The competition is open to South African citizens regardless of residency and to residents of South Africa, over the age of 18. Stories must be previously unpublished fiction, written in English. Stories are to be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length (which will enable submission to the Caine Prize), and only one story per author is to be considered in any one year.

Closing date for entries for the competition is November 30, 2013. The full rules and requirements for the stories can be viewed on the National Arts Festival website: as well as at

Selected writers will be invited to read at/participate in events at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2014. Transport and accommodation will be paid for winning writers, provided they are resident in South Africa. Copyright of stories will remain with the writers, although writers may be requested to publish in partnering online and print media.

The final panel of independent judges to choose the winning stories from the short-list of 25 stories will be announced in 2014. Stories will be edited by author and editor Joanne Hichens, in association with the writers, in order to ensure a publication of the highest standard.

After consulting the submission details on the National Arts Festival website, entries can be emailed to Submissions should be accompanied by the signed entry form (available on the website), plus a covering letter conveying contact details, plus a brief CV and biography. Stories are preferably to be set in 11 point, Times Roman, at one and half line spacing. For further information, or queries, contact Joanne Hichens at

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Department of Arts and Culture, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.