The Queensland Premiers Literary Awards: a considered response.

The Queensland Premiers Literary Awards: a considered response.

What do awards do in the scheme of things; do they really have a purpose?

Should not the individual just strive to be the best they can and not need an award to prove it?

What has a writing award got to do with my life?

Literature in Queensland won’t die because there is no more QLD Premiers award will it?

These are all questions I was fielded in the last 24 hours when I was shocked by the news that the QLD Premiers Literary Award (PLA) had been cancelled. I felt the need to have a little chat about what awards do and the significance of the PLA and why it does disappoint and even devastate some people. And what will be done in response.

What do awards do in the scheme of things; do they really have a purpose?

Literary awards are important. They do a number of things simultaneously. They tell publishers, writers, poets and illustrators, what is considered to be “the best,” and thus the standards they must strive to attain. The crafting of story, the sentence structure, the history explored, the imagination unleashed are all expertly done and held up as what is expected from future authors.

Award winning books have helped to shape the world of literature and therefore our culture and attainment of knowledge. Literary awards raises”the cultural appreciation of great writing in the country while advancing the careers of both established and emerging writers” NBA website. Reading these books can broaden your horizons and make you more culturally aware. In fact – that is what they are supposed to do.

Should not the individual just strive to be the best they can and not need an award to prove it?

Writers don’t get paid a lot of money. I know, seems criminal but there you have it. If they are lucky they can scrape by with a living doing what they love and are compelled to do, but in all but a very small percent, they will not be sipping champagne on a private yacht anytime soon.

Awards are important to writers as many many books get published every year and the awards and those books that are long and short listed get recognised as works worth reading, of being in a bookstore, or library, or a school text. The most prestigious awards not only give honours but lead to significantly increased sales. They are an important part of the business.

Author Michael Gerard Bauer commented on a PLA discussion on our Facebook page;  “I can tell you if you’re fortunate enough to win an award like that (the PLA), it is a great help financially and also in terms of publicity. And it’s not just the winners who gain it’s also everyone who gets recognition through the shortlists.”

What has a writing award got to do with my life?

Reading and literacy are an integral part of our everyday life and culture. The books that get awarded by various awards highlight events, themes, issues or people that we should know about. These books prompt discussion and investigation, thought and debate which is critical in any society that values individual input and a learned population. If you aren’t aware of the world around you how can you make informed decisions on your present and future?

Think of any topic that causes discussion, passion or debate and it has been the subject of a book that has won a literary award, for the reason that it has been presented in a way to inspire or encourage critical thinking and engagement with the issue, not simply a verdict.

Literature in Queensland won’t die because there is no more QLD Premiers award will it?

Probably not, no. But the community of writers and creative thinkers will reassess how they are viewed in Queensland. And like I, they will despair at the thought that people don’t value literature and the arts in Queensland as the newly elected Premier is acting on Queensland’s behalf. I know that it won’t die… because we will do something about it.

Literature in Queensland and the community surrounding it will stand up and shout louder about what is important; to them, to their readers, to the state and the country about why writing, reading and the arts in general is important to our society and culture as a whole.

They will shout louder and longer and stand stronger to get the point across. They will share their love of writing with more people, they will share their love of reading with more people and illustrate that a world without creativity and the arts is a very dark place indeed. Sound a little dramatic? It’s supposed to, because if you stand by and say it won’t happen “the government would never decimate the arts..” WITHOUT first protecting and defending them, then you will watch the arts slip away.

The Queensland Government “decided not to proceed with the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards in 2012 which will save Queensland taxpayers $244, 475″ Gov’t statement 3/4/12

That savings is equal to approximately 18.3 cents per person in the state.

It is the National Year Of Reading.

I will finish with a quote from a very learned man, who had to make hard and harsh decisions and who was also hard pushed for budget cuts and saving every penny where he could, his life and many millions of others depended on it. When Winston Churchill was asked why he did not cut funding for the arts to help the war effort he replied ‘then what are we fighting for?

Tanya for TLC Books

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