Ah… literature. What is it good for?

Steven Pinker, in a recent talk claims that the world has become more peaceful and that we are living in a relatively less violent era than before. Though I don’t exactly agree with him on every point (aspects of sample size and specifics of what is considered a “violent” act) – I do find it fascinating that the two most significant pacifying influences are the formation of government and the enlightenment (with its increased literacy and civilising artistic pursuits).

What more justification could one want for the annual The Premier’s Literary Awards?

Pinker is a fine speaker – and should you desire a well dot-pointed lecture – I recommend watching this whilst consuming your morning toast and tea.

The bits that echoed and eased my resolve is the civilising affect art (and in particular being in the presence of others speaking) can have on a society to build compassion and empathy. This is truly one of the many attributes of theatre. And I believe writers are at the very centre of that – they speak to us across time, generations and geography.

So of course we need writers – and writers need money.

The need money for shelter and food and to relax (strangely, writers seem to use money to buy writing time – they’re not often at the track backing a feverish pup with their cash).

And so the outstanding and unbelievable ignorance of the impact of withdrawing such an award – as in the case of the Queensland Literary award by axing it to save money in 2012.

Read this and be outraged: http://www.couriermail.com.au/entertainment/books/premier-campbell-newmans-scrapping-of-queensland-premiers-literary-awards/story-e6freqkx-1226318300611

And you may now see how Campbell Newman has outted himself in the artistic community as being a false economist.

A country fails to invest in its artists at its own peril.

Luckily, despite a controversial hiccup in 2010, (read here: https://classic.augustasupple.com/2010/05/were-ready-for-a-bun-fight-not-the-nsw-premiers-literary-awards/ ) the NSW Government isn’t so short-sighted. 2012 there is a raft of literary awards up for grabs.

I personally don’t agree with awards – but I do believe in symbols of encouragement and money for artists – so, I guess… uh.. in someways I do agree with awards.

My hope is that all the brilliant playwrights I know and have worked with (and I love) absolutely swamp and confound the judges with choice – I hope the writing community is seen as a huge and impressive force in our cultural landscape.

Because writers are brilliant and essential… and we need them to keep us civilised.


The Premier’s Literary Awards

The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have a proud history, both in celebrating achievement by Australian writers and in helping to establish values and standards in Australian literature.

The NSW Government is committed to increasing public engagement with the arts. Administered by the State Library of NSW in association with Arts NSW, the Premier’s Literary Awards provide an opportunity to highlight the importance of literacy and to encourage everyone to enjoy and learn from the work of our writers. These annual awards honour distinguished achievement by Australian writers, contribute to Australia’s artistic reputation, and draw international attention to some of our best writers and to the cultural environment that nurtues them.

Past winners have included such notable writers as Peter Carey, David Malouf AO, Elizabeth Jolley, Thomas Keneally AO and Helen Garner.

Total prize money for the Premier’s Literary Awards in 2012, including sponsored awards, is up to $285,000. Writers and illustrators whose works are nominated must be living Australian citizens or persons holding permanent resident status.
Call for Nominations

Nominations are now being sought for the following 2012 Literary awards:

The Christina Stead Prize
The UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing
The Douglas Stewart Prize
The Kenneth Slessor Prize
The Patricia Wrightson Prize
The Ethel Turner Prize
The Play Award
The Scriptwriting Award
The Community Relations Commission for a multicultural NSW Award

Nominations closing date: 5 pm June 1 2012

To apply head to: