Interview: Cheryl Leavy – 2024 Stella Prize Judge
An interview with award-winning writer and arts worker Cheryl Leavy.
What excites you about judging the 2024 Stella Prize and awarding the next Stella Prize winner?
I am excited to read the best of Australian women’s writing, submitted by those who believe in their voice.
Why did you become a writer?
I don’t feel pigeon-holed if described as a First Nations writer. I write from the core of my identity, so it is true. The deeper truth is that I am a Kooma and Nguri writer. Until readers understand what that means, I feel I must keep writing.
Has your relationship with reading changed since you started learning your own language?
I tend to read like I am auditioning for Audible. If I think that I have found the writer’s voice, its meter and musicality, I read with it. This has been the case since I started learning my own language, which is almost sung rather than spoken.
What is one thing about yourself that you want to share with our readers?
I studied Art History at university and have a soft spot for writing that uses any kind of aesthetic to convey meaning.
What’s your favourite independent bookstore, and what do you love most about it?
Fiona Stager’s Avid Reader is my favourite independent bookstore. Avid excels at celebrating local writers and their events are often sold out. I’m looking forward to the launch of Melanie Saward’s Burn this week!
What’s on your reading pile at the moment?
I’ve recently finished Burn by my talented friend Melanie Saward and We Come with this Place by Debra Dank, both exceptional blak writers. On the top of my reading pile at the moment is Bindi by Kirili Saunders as inspiration for my own writing for younger readers.