The Lifted Brow and non/fiction Lab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction, now in its third year, encourages non-fiction writers to challenge themselves by testing the limits of their crafts and creativity.

We are delighted to announce that the 2017 winning piece for The Lifted Brow and non/fiction Lab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction is:

‘An Architecture of Early Motherhood (and Independence)’, by Stephanie Guest and Kate Riggs.

Kate Riggs

Stephanie Guest

Stephanie Guest studied literature at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney, and has begun a degree in Architecture. Kate Riggs studied architecture at RMIT and is working for Urban Design London. Guest & Riggs met in year 11 at Narrabundah College in Canberra. They will be running a series of baby-friendly events at MPavilion in 2017-18.

Their winning piece, ‘An Architecture of Early Motherhood (and Independence)’, will appear in The Lifted Brow #35, out September 4th. You can subscribe or find a copy at one of our stockists.

This year’s judges were Eileen Myles, Wayne Koestenbaum, Fiona Wright, Leslie Jamison and Claudia La Rocco. Below is a cobbled-together summary of some of their comments about the winning piece:

“‘An Architecture of Early Motherhood (and Independence)’ is a wonderful essay about how we inhabit the spaces of female selfhood at different points in time and life, and the implicit assumptions that underpin their design; it speaks too to the changing conditions—unstable housing, casual work—that are changing our generation’s ways of life and ways of making families, making meaning. It is honest and occasionally brutally forthright, and quite lyrical in its writing, and the pairing of literature and architecture at the heart of the text makes perfect sense, each illuminating the other. We love too that this is a collaborative text, and there’s a real sense of generosity and affection at play between the voices. Overall it is an extraordinarily complex piece of writing: genuine, surprising – a trove of actualities, of maternal realities, more grained and beautifully (laudably) ‘pedestrian’ (and therefore profound) than most of what we've read on the subject. We loved the determined fidelity to the banality and logistics of early motherhood—states of radical and ongoing beholden-ness—juxtaposed against reflections from an autonomous life in the margins.”

With the support of partners Copyright Agency and RMIT University’s non/fictionLab, Guest and Riggs receive $5000, and two runners-up also each receive $500 each.


'The Essentials’ by Lei Wang

Lei Wang is confused about her identity as a Chinese-American living in Shanghai. This is her first literary publication. She has previously worked in happiness research, science journalism, and private investigations but is still looking for a dream career that can feed her without sacrificing her soul while she writes. In Shanghai, she helps run a spoken word poetry series with the International House of Poets and has a spare couch for visiting literati (this could mean you).

‘New World Cache – mathematically resolved Science Theory Fiction with Feeling and Politics coded in Deep’ by Holly Childs

Holly Childs is an Australian writer and artist. Author of Danklands, published by Arcadia Missa, London and No Limit, published by Hologram, Melbourne. Recent postgraduate researcher in The New Normal program at Strelka Institute, Moscow. Currently studying in Shadow Channel program at Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam.

Once again, congratulations to our shortlisted and longlisted writers.


The Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-fiction looks to unearth new, audacious, authentic and/or inauthentic voices from both Australia and the world.

This prize seeks work that is unlike any other. We want to hear from writers we’ve never read before, and we want writers we already know and love to challenge themselves to create work unlike any they’ve previously produced.

What is ‘experimental non-fiction’? Like all non-fiction writing it is steeped in facts, real events and real people, with the aim of communicating information, argument, and truth. It differs from traditional non-fiction in that it tries to convey its meaning using unorthodox form, or style, or voice, or point-of-view, or etc. The best pieces of experimental non-fiction are those in which any unorthodox element deepens the meaning and authenticity of the subject matter.

We want to acknowledge again this year’s brilliant judges—Claudia La Rocco, Wayne Koestenbaum, Fiona Wright, Eileen Myles and Leslie Jamison—who very kindly agreed to volunteer their time and brainpower to pick the best pieces.

Our prize would not exist without the generosity of RMIT’s non/fictionLab as well as the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. We thank both of these bodies for their ongoing support.