WARNING TO AUTHORS: the ‘notJack’ grift

There were several hundred entries to the notJack prize for ‘writing from place’ in 2016. Early in 2017, after all the entries had been read by sponsors from a publishing company and a bookshop, and by volunteers associated with the prize, a long-list of 18 entries (and names of authors) was announced, on the notJack website, by Raimond Gaita. On 3 April 2017 a short-list of entries (and names of authors) was announced by e-mail. “The facts are,” the e-mail said, “we are really sure that a winner will not be determined from the usual judging process.” On 20 May 2017 a further e-mail to entrants announced that “A decision on a particular entry could not be equitably reached.”

We do not accept this is a fair or appropriate response, and believe that the administration of the prize, in the University of Melbourne, has been incompetent and organisers obtuse. A 25 May 2017 e-mail from the organisers attempted to clarify many questions asked by entrants about the organisation of the prize but failed to answer the most important of them: why was a short-list publicised but no winner determined? One member of the notJack advisory panel has remarked publicly of the result: “I find it strange that if there’s a shortlist, there’s not a winner, or someone provided to break a deadlock and just make a decision. Once there is a shortlist, I would have thought the merit of entries established!” Writers submitting to the notJack Prize can expect, for a fee, to be treated to delay, disorganisation, and embarrassment. We urge you to avoid it.

— Short-listed entrants in the 2016 notJack Prize

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