Tasmanian Literary Prizes opened yesterday and I'm a judge. The prizes have, in Arts Tasmania's words "been reimagined for 2013 to ensure that emerging writers are also celebrated and that literary content in its many different forms is valued," and while the Tasmania Book Prize (best book with Tasmanian content, any genre) and Margaret Scott Prize (best book by a Tasmanian author) remain, the University of Tasmania Prize has taken on the mantle of the emerging.
This prize was previously awarded for excellent in Tasmanian publishing and while it's true that there is a dearth of Tasmanian books being published by other than a few, I am so glad to see that there is now an opportunity for emerging writers to be publically recognised, awarded and inspired by in this prize.
The category of 'emerging' is as tricky to define as 'old-growth' but, as a good government body should, there are strict guidelines about what constitutes 'emerging' in this context apply. It corresponds to changes in the definition of emerging at the Australia Council too - and over the next few months I'll comment further about this. There is a lot to discuss about literary prizes. Whoever would have thought!
It delights me that as I write this on this misty, icy Tasmania morning that in November I'll be in the city of angels, Bangkok to discuss the importance of literary prizes further at the Reaching the World Conference.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to literary prizes and their importance; their ability to imbue excitement in the normally insular world of literature, research and writing and it draws our attention to all corners of the publishing and reading experience. It provides financial recognition for work that, if published, probably doesn't pay a lot. It affords and encourages discussion about the beauty of the 'book' and it shows that the government supports and encourages Tasmanian writing and writers. It would be remiss not to comment on the newly elected Queensland premier, Campbell Newman's short sighted decision to cut the Queensland Literary Prizes and the incredible response in the community to rebuild these awards.
I'm looking forward to getting my eyeballs on the entries.
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