Last night I had the great pleasure of attending the inaugural Queensland Literary Awards. And what a wonderful night it was. After the heinous axing of the Premier’s awards by the new conservative government, the power of the people and the hard work of a few like Krissy Kneen, Claire Booth and Matthew Condon, made these awards the “most noble”of the literary calendar this year as Fiction Book winner Frank Moorhouse noted in his acceptance speech.
Not a politician in sight, which meant the speeches were entertaining and the room was filled with laughter and feel-good vibes. Richard Fidler, host of Conversations on ABC radio, hosted the event and set the tone for the evening by saying that by sacrificing our literary prize money we writers had saved Queensland from certain Apocalypse.
With fifteen awards in all, there are too many to list here. The event made the front page of The COurier Mail however so click here for a complete list.
Highlights for me were the emerging writer prize, won by Catherine Titasey for her manuscript, “Islands of the Unexpected”. She’d flown all the way from Thursday Island where she lives, and the book is set, to accept the award and accompanying bottle of coins collected by literary buskers. She had never met another writer.
Winner of the David Unaipon Award, SivParker, moved the audience when she told of how her mother had taught herself to read using Anne of Green Gables! Without the efforts of volunteers and donors, there would have been no award this year for her to win.
I’d entered Thrill Seekers in the Young Adult section but was up against some fierce competiton. I was happy to cheer for Neil Grant’s book about a young refugee from Afghanistan and an Australian boy, The Ink Bridge.
When the award for best Non-Fiction book was announced and the winner stood up, I got a shiver down my spine, because from the back she looked so much like my best writing buddy Helena Pastor who I imagined one day also winning the award. Robin De Crespigny won with The People Smuggler, humanising the face that many demonise.
The party after the event was a hoot. Spirits were high and the drinks were free. It felt like we’d all achieved something quite grand, together. We’d stood up for the importance of writing and reading. The strength of the winners was that they all, in their different ways, showed how the power of story helps change the way we think.
Congratulations to all the winners and most especially to those who worked so hard to ensure that Queensland’s vibrant literary scene retained its awards.