Friday, August 29, 2014

Arts Victoria - Shortlist announced: The Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing

Arts Victoria - Shortlist announced: The Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing



SHORTLISTED WRITERS AND JUDGES COMMENTS

The Promise by Tony Birch (Carlton, VIC)
(UQP)
Tony Birch is the author of Shadowboxing (2006), the short story collection Father’s Day(2009) and the novel Blood (UQP, 2011), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award. He is a frequent contributor to ABC local and national radio and a regular guest at writers’ festivals. He lives in Melbourne, where he teaches in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne.
Judges’ comments: Tony Birch’s characters are gritty and resilient: gamblers, loners, those down on their luck or in a state of grief, or kids battling it out for the housing commission marbles championship. The stories, so beautifully and simply drawn, belie the craft and skill of their construction. The characters may be shambolic, but the words on the page are perfectly placed to give them a dignity that they are not often afforded.

Mogwie-Idan: Stories of the land by Lionel George Fogarty (Wynnum, QLD)
(Vagabond Press)
Lionel Fogarty was born on Wakka Wakka land at Barambah, now known as Cherbourg Aboriginal Reserve near Murgon, Queensland. His traditional background is the Yoogum and Kudjela tribes and he has relations from the Goomba tribe.
Lionel Fogarty began writing poetry out of a commitment to the Aboriginal cause, a belief that land rights is the basis of Aboriginal people's hope for a future not based on racism and oppression, and as a way of expressing his Murri beliefs and continuing to pass on his own knowledge and experience. His first work Kargun (1980) was published when he was 22 and further volumes of verse have contiued to be published. With the appoval of his elders he has published a children's book Booyooburra (1993), a traditional Wakka Wakka story.
Judges’ comments: Legendary Murri poet Lionel George Fogarty's collection Mogwie-Idan: Stories of the Land shows that his political fire and linguistic facility ARE undiminished after a lifetime's work as a poet and activist. In hisintroduction to the collection, Ali Alizadeh describes it as a 'paradoxicalsymbiosis of political commitment and stylistic improbability'. Thejudging committee noted Fogarty's continual ability to surprise and delighthis reader with a passionate but not embittered politics, and a musicality of syntax that continually opens up the full possibility of language to produce new meanings.

Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko (Tingalpa, QLD)
(UQP)
Melissa Lucashenko is an Australian writer of European and Goorie heritage. She received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University in 1990 and published her first novel, Steam Pigs, in 1997. It won the Dobbie Literary Award for Australian women’s fiction and was shortlisted in the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards and regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Steam Pigs was followed by the Aurora Prize-winning Killing Darcy, a novel for teenagers, and Hard Yards, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Courier-Mail Book of the Year and the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. Mullumbimby won the 2013 Queensland Literary Award, Best Fiction, and was longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize. In 2013 Melissa won the inaugural long-form Walkley Award for her Griffith Review essay ‘Down and Out in Brisbane and Logan’. She lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation.
Judges’ comments: Mullumbimby deals with identity, belonging and place − common themes to many Aboriginal-authored stories − in a contemporary and relatable way. Single mother Jo Breen is grappling with a newly acquired plot of land in the hinterland and a moody teenage daughter. There’s the local Aboriginal community, where traditional ownership land claims are pitted against one another, a tall, black and handsome suitor, and a flock of birds behaving strangely − all the elements for a multi-layered plot with a twist. Mullumbimby beautifully evokes the landscape and physicality of rural life and honestly describes some of the complexities faced in upholding a land claim.

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Gipsy Point, VIC)
(Magabala Books)
Bruce Pascoe is a Bunurong man born in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond. He is a member of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative of southern Victoria and has been the director of the Australian Studies Project for the Commonwealth Schools Commission. Bruce has had a varied career as a teacher, farmer, fisherman, barman, fencing contractor, lecturer, Aboriginal language researcher, archaeological site worker and editor. His book Fox a Dog (published by Magabala Books in 2012), won the Young Adult category of the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.
Judges’ comments: This beautiful book by Bruce Pascoe, refuting the notion that pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians were simply hunter-gatherers, is long overdue. The author has drawn on a wealth of resources in assembling this fascinating book, and every page is ripe with information, fat and satisfying as the bogong moths he writes about. Pascoe's text is lively and the photographs and drawings are compelling. 

Calypso Summer by Jared Thomas (Willunga, SA)
(Magabala Books)
Dr Jared Thomas is a Nukunu person of the Southern Flinders Ranges and an arts development officer at Arts South Australia. Jared’s play Flash Red Ford toured Uganda and Kenya in 1999 and his play Love, Land and Money, featured during the 2002 Adelaide Fringe Festival. Jared’s young adult novel, Sweet Guy, was shortlisted for the 2009 South Australian People’s Choice Awards for Literature and his children’s book,Dallas Davis, the Scientist and the City Kids is published by the Oxford University Press Yarning Strong series. Jared’s writing explores the power of belonging and culture. He lives in Adelaide with his partner and two daughters.
Judges’ comments: This fresh, original story carried the judges along with its energy and believable characters. Calypso, the young Rastafarian Aboriginal protagonist, is sorting out his life choices while trying to connect to culture, in a world that can be a dangerous and confusing place. The challenges the author has created for him are complex, interesting and often surprising. Calypso Summer is a sophisticated and universal novel that gives us a glimpse of today’s world through a young Nukunu man’s eyes.

The Swan Book by Alexis Wright (Melbourne, VIC)
(Giramondo)
Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War, a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek, and the novels Plains of Promise and Carpentaria, which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre.
Judges’ comments: Acclaimed author Alexis Wright's The Swan Book continues her deep concerns with land, environment and myth. Wright explores the interrelation between humans and the natural world, and the capacity of song and reverie to shape reality. A poetic novel, The Swan Book leaves the reader with a sense of the sacredness of life and the interspecies connection between birds and humans