Queensland Literary Awards showcase impressive writers and publishers

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Following the new precedent for prize-giving in 2020, this year’s Queensland Literary Awards (QLAs) were presented online on Friday 4 September. The QLAs are run by the State Library of Queensland and this year were hosted by Sarah Kanowski from ABC Radio’s Conversations, where they showcased an impressive cohort of writers and publishers.

The Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund supports two national awards for writers as part of the QLAs:

In presenting these Awards, Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling acknowledged the impressive writers on both shortlists and the impact such awards have on writers’ careers. He also reinforced how the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund is “passionate about supporting writers, publishers and visual artists to ensure their work connects with readers and audiences”.

The Judith Wright Calanthe Award honours one of our most respected and significant poets, Judith Wright. Her poetry helped shape Australia’s self-perception, and continues to challenge and inspire those who read and study it around the country today.

This year the $15,000 award went to Pi.O for his epic work Heide (Giramondo Publishing). Judges described it as “a major work that continually calls into attention the myth-making impulse on which so much history is built”. The runners-up were Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness by Peter Boyle (Vagabond Press); Lyre by Stuart Cooke (UWA Publishing); Throat by Ellen van Neerven (UQP; and Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Cordite Books).

Left: Book cover courtesy of Giramondo Publishing.

The David Unaipon Award, established by University of Queensland Press (UQP) in 1988, honours one of our earliest published Indigenous writers, Ngarrindjeri man David Unaipon (1872–1967). It recognises the immense contribution of new Indigenous writers to Australian literary culture, and has led to the publication of some of our foremost literary talents, including Tara June Winch (winner of the 2020 Miles Franklin Literary Award), Ellen van Neerven and Samuel Wagon Watson.

This year’s winner, receiving $15,000 plus manuscript development and publication with UQP, was Jazz Money for her manuscript ‘The Space Between the Paperbark’. Judges praised it as “a luminous and beautifully-sculpted, seamless collection of poems that reflects on place and passion”. The runners-up were Boyd Quakawoot with ‘Valley of Cane and Crows’, Mykaela Saunders with ‘Last Rites of Spring’ and Melanie Saward with ‘Burn’.

As always, you can catch up on the full QLA ceremony on YouTube. For the full list of winners and more information about the awards, visit the State Library of Queensland’s website.

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