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Congratulations to Gomeroi poet and Magabla author, Alison Whittaker, who has been shortlisted for the Indigenous Writing Prize in the 2019 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards for Blakwork – the sole book of poetry in impressive company alongside novels, Taboo (Kim Scott), Common People (Tony Birch) and Too Much Lip (Melissa Lucashenko).
The winners of the main suit of awards – fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry, writing for young adults, and the biennial Prize for Indigenous Writing – each receive $25,000, and go on to contest the overall Victorian Prize for Literature, worth an additional $100,000.
It has a been a whirlwind year for Whittaker, during which she returned to Australia after completing a Masters of Laws at Harvard University on a Fulbright scholarship, was the Indigenous Poet-in-Residence at the Queensland Poetry Festival, and welcomed the publication and launch of Blakwork, her second poetry collection with Magabala Books.
"BLAKWORK has been a labour of love over the past year, and I’m floored that it has resonated with people," Whittaker said.
"Before its release, I was worried that BLAKWORK was too much – too much politics, too much language, too many poems, too much weird – and it would stop people engaging. I hope that this shortlisting is testament to other Indigenous writers that experimental work with purpose is being recognised. It has to be, because that’s the entire Indigenous VPLA shortlist! It's an honour to be part of this moment in blak literature – a moment that’s the rule, not the exception. Thanks, Magabala, for taking the chance alongside me."
Inaugurated by the Victorian Government in 1985 to honour Australian writing, the VPLAs are administered by the Wheeler Centre of behalf of the Premier of Victoria. Winners will be announced on Thursday 31 January 2019.
To view the full list of shortlisted titles visit the Wheeler Centre website.