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2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

28 January 2014
2014 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Premier Dr Denis Napthine tonight announced poet Jennifer Maiden as the winner of Australia's richest single literary prize – the Victorian Prize for Literature – for Liquid Nitrogen, a collection of poetry that weaves political events of our time with tributes to friends, family and melody.

In Liquid Nitrogen, Ms Maiden ventures into the minds of public figures including Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt, and imagines conversations that explore both the personal and political. Dr Napthine congratulated Ms Maiden on the award, and commended her imaginative collection.

"Jennifer Maiden's work has been singled out as a remarkable piece of brilliant imagination and craft," Dr Napthine said.

More than 300 members of the literary community gathered at Government House for the announcement of the winners of the awards, which include five main award categories.

As well as winning the $100,000 Victorian Prize for Literature, Ms Maiden is also the recipient of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Poetry, for which she won a further $25,000.

Ms Maiden's work was chosen from a strong group of category winners who each received $25,000: Alex Miller for Coal Creek (Fiction), Henry Reynolds for Forgotten War (Non- Fiction), Patricia Cornelius for Savages (Drama), and Barry Jonsberg for My Life as an Alphabet (Writing for Young Adults). These five writers were chosen from a shortlist of 22 writers from around Australia and a record number of entries.

"Congratulations to the category winners for their works, which take us through incredibly diverse territory from white settlement to post-World War Two Queensland, from the dark side of mateship to the life of a twelve year old girl who sets out on a mission to make everyone happy," Dr Napthine said.

This is the fourth year that the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards have been administered by the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas on behalf of the Premier of Victoria.

WINNERS OF THE 2014 VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY AWARDS

Winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature: Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo Publishing)

Award for Poetry: Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo Publishing)

In the cool medium of Maiden's poetry Julia Gillard is considered by her mentor Nye Bevan, Kevin Rudd shares a flight with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eleanor Roosevelt plays Woody Guthrie for Hillary Clinton. The poems focus on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Breivik in Norway, dissidents in Beijing, the protests in Tahrir Square and Gillard's use of power, alongside tributes to friends and family, the ox and the tiger, music and the power of poetry.

Award for Fiction: Coal Creek by Alex Miller (Allen & Unwin)

Bobby Blue is caught between loyalty to his only friend, Ben Tobin, and his boss, Daniel Collins, the new constable at Mount Hay. Bobby understands the people and the ways of Mount Hay; Collins studies the country as an archaeologist might, bringing his coastal values to the hinterland. Increasingly bewildered and goaded to action by his wife, Constable Collins takes up his shotgun and his Webley pistol to deal with Ben. Bobby's love for Collins' willful young daughter Irie is exposed, leading to tragic consequences for them all.

Award for Non-Fiction: Forgotten War by Henry Reynolds (NewSouth Books)

Australia is dotted with memorials to soldiers who fought in wars overseas. Why are there no official memorials or commemorations of the wars that were fought on Australian soil between Aborigines and white colonists? Why is it more controversial to talk about the frontier war now than it was 100 years ago? This powerful book makes it clear that there can be no reconciliation without acknowledging the wars fought on our own soil.

Award for Drama: Savages by Patricia Cornelius (Fortyfivedownstairs)

Savages is a cautionary tale about four friends who embark on the holiday of a lifetime, but their excitement is soured by anger, bitterness and disappointment. The pack forms and the dark side of mateship emerges. This is a tough and frank look at masculinity and the sexual behaviour of men in groups.

Award for Writing for Young Adults: My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)

My Life as an Alphabet is executed with both humour and heart. We are introduced to Candice Phee: 12 years old, hilariously honest and a little ... odd. But she has the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to ensure everyone is happy. So she sets about trying to 'fix' all the problems of all the people (and pets) in her life.

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