18 August, 2007

CBCA Award acceptance speech

I feel compelled to pass on to you, for people who haven’t read Red Spikes yet and are thinking of moving their children or students along to it—after they’ve usefully extended their reading of Ursula’s The Red Shoe by telling them all about the Petrov Affair—the words on the Queensland Education Department’s Library Services website about my short story collection:
READ BEFORE USE WITH STUDENTS—Contains graphic descriptions of violence and drug use. This book appears to be aimed at a wider demographic than the young adult market […T]he stories contain dark themes… Appropriate for Senior English and Senior English Extension (Literature). Words are used more for suggestion than clarification and the intense imagery provokes disturbing ambiguities that will stimulate analysis.
So, consider yourselves warned.

As well as the violence and drug use (really, the drug use is not the most interesting part of that story) there’s also a pretty unsparing childbirth scene, a dead baby (not from the childbirth scene), a really scary bogeyman, a boy with bad burns, an extended glimpse of the sizzling souls in Hell, and a horribly deformed mouse. Take care in there.

The author of the Library Services notes adds at the end that Red Spikes is:
Appropriate for investigating the roles of author, reader, text and world while developing an ‘understanding of the influence of various contexts on the production of texts and on the reading practices through which readers make meaning'.
I’d just like to say that if I visit any school in the next twelve months and find that my book is being used there to investigate the roles of author, reader, text and world while developing an ‘understanding of the influence of various contexts on the production of texts and on the reading practices through which readers make meaning', I cannot answer for the consequences.

It’s really stunning and wonderful to be standing here. The CBCA Awards were the first I ever knew of book awards. All the authors and titles from the 1960s and 1970s shortlists are clanging around in my head: Nan Chauncy, Patricia Wrightson, Joan Phipson, Ivan Southall, Colin Thiele, Elyne Mitchell, Eleanor Spence, Hesba Brinsmead. Pastures of the Blue Crane! Bread and Honey, Finn’s Folly, I Own the Racecourse, Uhu the owl, When Jays Fly to Barbmo—I can see the covers, and I can hardly believe that Zoe Sadokierski’s wonderful warrior-woman with her beetle antlers and maternity armour is going to sit next to them on those lists. I am very honoured.

I need to thank some other people besides Zoe. Rosalind Price at Allen & Unwin, you have been a great friend and publisher from the very beginning with Wildgame in 1991, and I am so pleased to be able to bring this honour to your publishing house and to you. Jodie Webster, who edited the collection—how cool is this, Jodie? Congratulations! My mother Ann and my sister Susi are here today, and I’d like to thank Mum and Dad for rearing their four daughters to be readers, and for not having a television in the house until very recently. I think Mum would also like you to know that she doesn’t believe the more unwholesome ideas in my stories have anything to do with either nature or nurture on her part. My partner Steven is also here, and he needs to be thanked for putting up with an awful lot of me punching the air and woo-hooing and saying ‘I am a genius!’ in the last couple of years.

Thank you to the awards judges for all their work and thought this year, to the Children’s Book Council of Australia for existing and for their continuing good work, and the donors and benefactors of the CBCA Awards Foundation for making today possible. And thank you to Premier Brumby, and to everyone here today, young and old, for loving and supporting the reading and writing of good books.

[For the Age's awards coverage (mostly about Shaun), go here. For the Australian's coverage, solely about Shaun *rolls eyes* :) , go here]

3 Comments:

Blogger James Roy said...

Nice speech, Margo.

And yes, we're still waiting for the Sydney Morning Herald to even notice the CBC awards for this year (or indeed most years.) Funny how the Herald keeps running stories about how Sydney is the sophisticated equivalent of Melbourne, except apparently no one reads...

19 August, 2007 11:25  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Thanks, Jim. My guess is that, because the awards happened in Melbourne, the SMH won't acknowledge them until next week, when Susan Wyndham will mention them - she wouldn't have had time to get them into her column this week.

19 August, 2007 15:47  
Blogger Kelly G said...

You gotta watch those disturbing ambiguities.
I'd love to see that flash up on the screen before TV shows. "This episode of Home and Away may contain disturbing ambiguities. Parental guidance is recommended."
...should there ever be any TV shows containing disturbing ambiguities.

30 August, 2007 15:51  

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