Plateau falls short

Published : Tuesday, November 09, 2010 | Label:

I was in Melbourne yesterday (Monday 8 November) for the announcement of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. The Blue Plateau was shortlisted in nonfiction. The prize went to The Colony, Grace Karskens’ history of colonial Sydney, The Colony.  Congratulations to Grace and to the other shortlisted authors. And thanks to the PM and Minister Crean and the judges for considering my book.

In her elegant speech, Julia Gillard commented that literature anchors all the arts. Had I gotten the chance to speak, I’d have applauded that sentiment, with all due respect to the other arts, compared to which literature seems sometimes vulgar (it’s art we make from ordinary speech; wherein lies its special beauty, of course).

And I’d have added that it’s poetry that anchors literature. And then I’d have wondered why there is still no prize for poetry in the PM’s Awards. It’s a baffling absence. Which will, with luck, be put right by next year.

Thanks to friends and readers who’ve contacted me to express regret that my plateau fell just short of the line. Poetry, like landscape, always was a hard case to make.

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