Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Wildcare Prize Winners

Announcing the winners of:

The 2011 Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize


The prize's orange-bellied parrot logo was designed by Bradley Trevor Greive

The 2011 Prize attracted entries from writers all over Australia, and as far afield as NewfoundlandCanada. The Prize winners were announced in April during “10 Days on the Island ”. The free event was held at the Upstairs Function Room, Republic Bar (cnr Elizabeth and Burnett Sts, Hobart), and hosted by the Tasmanian Writers Centre.

The 2011 winner is:

Peter Shepherd (Upper Brogo, NSW) for his essay “In the Land of Nod”. Peter receives $5 000 plus return airfares to Hobart and a two week residency in a Tasmanian national park.

The minor awards were shared by:

Amanda Curtain (BassendeanWA) for “On the Uses of the Dead to the Living”

AND

Elizabeth Bryer (Yarravile, Vic) for “Of Stars and a Lake”. They each receive $250.

Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks to all authors who submitted works. 

Peter Shepherd was unable to attend the presentation, but forwarded this acceptance speech to me:

________________________________________

The Wildcare Nature Writing Prize has been, for some years, both my inspiration and my big stick. It has led me, each time I have entered (third time lucky, hey?), to a new level in my writing. What drives me is respect: for the existence of the prize, for the standard, and for its aim of drawing attention to what nature writing can offer.

I believe it can offer a lot. No, actually, I believe it can offer the world. Through the practice and teaching of nature writing I've discovered the importance of intimacy in this way of communicating with the world; of grace and courage and all those things that make good writing a yearning toward something fundamental and large; a search that drives every human heart.

Nature writing, I believe, is our best hope for a language of connection.

And that is because the connections it offers are those beyond the fences of industrial culture. Nature writing opens a space to listen to the larger spaces in which we are woven: skies, mountains, oceans, history and future, and the land itself. It suggests the possibility of listening in ways not just brain-based, but to the spiritual poetry of wonder.

Without losing the critical importance of the everyday poetry - children, laughter, this single rock, the colour and miracle of this particular fungus. The human commons. The earthly commons. Seeing neighbours despite how many legs they have or which end of their body they breathe out of.

And sharing the story of it.

Whatever you want to call it - nature writing, earthspeaking, or just plain writing or sharing - here is a call, as I see it, to reclaim our wild human heritage, to fling heartfelt poetic truths into the world around us in shapes and connections that the shallow plastic of industry-speak simply can't stand against. Without root and blood how could it? Without breath and a proffered paw, wing, hand and chirruping, sky-scaling song, what chance does it stand?

None, despite the sheer volume and effort of it. None, because it cannot stand eye to eye and heart to heart with one other and say, "I see you. I hear you. And I care."

Nature writing can. And, through rebellious spirits everywhere, will continue to deepen and expand, and reconnect with a song and language that has never been lost, but has merely been waiting for us to come home again.

I want to thank fellow conspirators: Island Magazine, Wildcare and
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife, the Tasmanian Writers Centre, all the poets and writers and dreamers and hopers and passion painters who have entered, and continue to enter, this award. And Peter Grant, whose persistence, work and vision makes it possible, beard and all. And my partner, now my fiancé, Jurnee, who holds a deep standard or writing and being that, it seems, the earth itself holds in respect. And our kids - Darcy, Teia and Niamh - who, by their simple existence, remind us of what is ultimately important. 
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