The Patricia Wrightson Prize

Just when you thought the award season was safely over...

The shortlists for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards for 2012 were announced on Monday, and I was humbled and delighted to learn that Crow Country has been shortlisted for the Patricia Wrightson Award, for children's literature.

I wish I had more time to write about this properly, but I'm supposed to be working on a copy-edit and I'm on a strict deadline! But I just had to comment quickly on how special it feels to be nominated for an award named after Patricia Wrightson, and particularly for this book.

Patricia Wrightson is best remembered for her children's books which drew on Aboriginal myth and folklore to create a truly Australian literature, in a time when many books for children were firmly rooted in an inherited British culture. Many readers of my generation grew up on her evocative and beautiful fantasy stories. As time has passed, some have questioned whether Wrightson's use of indigenous material was in fact "appropriating" or "controlling", and when I set out to write Crow Country, I had to ask myself the same question about my own exploration of Aboriginal myth and philosophy. I don't have time to discuss this in much depth here, but Matthew Finch has written a fascinating series of posts on his blog which talk about Wrightson's project, and her legacy, in more detail.

It is of course a complicated, sometimes fraught, and difficult area. But these are conversations which we need to keep having. And meanwhile, I feel deeply honoured that one of my books is up for a prize named in memory of one of Australian's best children's writers, a wise woman who thought long and hard about our connection to this land, its first people, and its magic.

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