Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Award winning broadcaster leads Montana New Zealand Book Awards judging panel

Award winning broadcaster Lynn Freeman is the convenor of the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards judging panel.

Freeman is joined by David Elworthy and Tim Corballis.

Freeman, hosts Radio New Zealand National’s The Arts on Sunday show and fills in on Nine to Noon when the main presenter is away, is a theatre critic and a Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards judge. She is also on the board of the Playwriting agency, Playmarket and served on the panel selecting the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Arts Laureates. She resides in Wellington.

Christchurch based David Elworthy, a veteran in the publishing industry, started his career as a New Zealand diplomat with postings in both London and New Delhi. He then joined A.H. & A.W. Reed as an editor, eventually becoming their Editorial Director. He then became the Publishing Director for Collins for 10 years before he and his wife Ros Henry founded Shoal Bay Press, which they ran successfully for 20 years before selling to Longacre Press.

Wellington writer Tim Corballis, brings a young voice to the judging panel.
In 2005/2006 he spent a year in Berlin as the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer in Residence. In 2002 he was the Randell Cottage Writer in Residence and in 2000 he was awarded the Adam Foundation Prize and a Modern Letters Fellowship for his work towards an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University in Wellington.

All three judges are looking forward to the challenge of judging.
“As judges, it is our privilege—and our challenge—to engage thoroughly with the full breadth of a year’s writing”.

“We are all anticipating – and looking forward to – many a robust round table discussion over the next few months, as we hone down the pleasingly extensive list of eligible books.”

The judges are very aware of the task ahead of them and the impact their choices will have on the reading public.

“Looking back on the first 12 years of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, one is struck first by the quality of the work submitted by New Zealand
authors and publishers, and secondly by the increasing impact of the
Awards on the New Zealand scene. Betting on the Awards may not yet have been taken up by the TAB, but book sales, let alone the interest expressed by the general media, reflect the keen interest of the New Zealand public,” the judges said.

The judging of New Zealand’s best books published during the 2007 calendar year is carried out across eight categories – Fiction, Poetry, Biography, History, Reference & Anthology, Environment, Illustrative, and Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture – and follows strict guidelines.
This is the 12th year of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Judges take into account enduring literary merit and overall authorship; quality of illustration and graphic presentation; production values, general design and the standard of editing and the impact of the book on the community, with emphasis on issues such as topicality, public interest, commercial viability, entertainment, cultural and educational values and lifespan of the book.

Each category has a specialist advisor to assist the judging panel. This year’s advisors also boast strong writing and publishing credentials:

Fiction – Diane Brown is a poet, novelist and memoirist, and the co-ordinator and tutor for the Aoraki Polytechnic Creative Writing Course in Dunedin. Her publications include the collections of poetry Before The Divorce We Go To Disneyland, (winner of the NZSA Best First Book of Poetry at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 1997); Learning to Lie Together, novels If The Tongue Fits, and Eight Stages of Grace, travel memoirs Liars and Lovers and Here Comes Another Vital Moment. She is currently writing a novel, Hooked.

Poetry – Anna Jackson lectures in English and American literature at Victoria University of Wellington. She has published four books of poetry with Auckland University Press, most recently The Gas Leak. She lives in Island Bay with her jeweller husband Simon Edmonds, and children Johnny (13) and Elvira (11).

History – Jock Phillips is General Editor of Te Ara, the Online Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Previously New Zealand’s Chief Historian, he was also the founding Director of the Stout Research Centre for the study of New Zealand society, history and culture. His ten published books on New Zealand history include collections on the major Maori tribes of New Zealand, and on the settler and immigrant peoples of New Zealand. He is just completing a book on the history of British immigration to New Zealand.

Biography – Julia Millen is a biographer, historian and fiction writer whose works include biographies of New Zealand novelists Guthrie Wilson and Ronald Hugh Morrieson. Her social history works include: Kirkcaldie & Stains and Bell Gully Buddle Weir; about the department store and the legal firm respectively, Salute to Service, on the RNZ Corps of Transport; and Breaking Barriers, on IHC New Zealand. She has an honours degree in music, has compiled and presented programmes for Radio New Zealand Concert and was librettist for two New Zealand operas.

Reference and Anthology – Margie Thomson was a journalist for more than 20 years, working on a variety of publications but mainly for the New Zealand Herald where she wrote features before becoming the Books Editor. Over the past 10 years she has edited books pages for Canvas, Herald on Sunday and Next magazine. Last year she left the media to take up a position as the Books Promotions Manager for Whitcoulls.

Environment – Simon Nathan is an earth scientist, with a long standing interest in environmental history. He has written biographical accounts of several New Zealand scientists, most recently Harold Wellman: a man who moved New Zealand. For the last four years Simon has been Science Editor of Te Ara: Encyclopedia of New Zealand which launched "The Bush" theme in 2007, dealing with New Zealand's natural environment.

Lifestyle and contemporary culture – Ann Packer is a freelance writer who last year won the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Lifestyle and Contemporary Culture category with Stitch, featuring New Zealand textile artists. She lives in Eastbourne and walks to Days Bay each morning before starting work on subjects as diverse as children’s books, homes, gardens, arts, travel and visiting authors. Ann has raised three children and worked as a community arts advisor, International Festival administrator and teacher.

Illustrative – Artist Dick Frizzell, having worked as an animator, commercial artist and illustrator, has no qualms about blurring the categories between his commercial work and art. His paintings are often a pastiche of images drawing on modern art and graphic design. In 2005 Frizzell was invited on the Antarctic artist programme. Frizzell’s works are held in major public and corporate collections and his 1997 retrospective exhibition, Dick Frizzell: Portrait of a Serious Artiste, toured major public art galleries of New Zealand.
(Courtesy Gow Langsford Gallery)

The winner in each category receives a prize of $5,000. Each category winner is eligible for the Montana Medal for non fiction or poetry/fiction, both of which carry a prize of $10,000.

The finalists across all categories will be announced on Tuesday 10 June.

The winner of the poetry category will be announced on Montana Poetry Day on Friday 18 July. All other winners will be advised at the awards ceremony in Wellington on Monday 21 July 2008.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana and Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by Book Publishers Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.


Auckland reader said...

How many of the judges and advisers this year are from Auckland? And have a look at last year too. You would think no one lives up here.

Anonymous said...

Auckland reader raises an interesting point. I don't want to be seen as a paranoid Aucklander but when you consider that 40% of the population lives from Hamilton north, and that the book publishing industry is concentrated on Auckland's North Shore, then one category adviser from this part of the country out of all the judges and advisers does seem a little out of balance.
Of course the organisers are a Wellington-based organisation..............

Anonymous said...

Why does it matter where the judges are from within New Zealand? Do you think they will only look favourably upon books from their own region? Come on, have a little bit of faith in the system. I can't really see someone going, "Well, Charlotte Grimshaw's book was excellent, but you know, she's from Auckland, so let's ignore her."

Anonymous said...

Selecting judges isn't as easy as it would seem.
Many potential candidates have, or are perceived to have conflicts of interest, alliances or ongoing disputes with possible finalists,are perhaps too close to publishers with shortlist ambitions, or carry their own agendas.
Often ideal candidates are approached but turn the role down because they don't want to be put in a position of judging , and maybe disappointing friends and colleagues, because they don't have time, and because this is not an overly lucrative task for the huge amount of time involved.
But probably the biggest deterrent to taking the job is that they face scrutiny over factors as irrelevant as their city of residence the minute their names are announced. If there are reasons for questioning their worthiness to judge a national award, then this has to be the most paranoid.
Heaven help them if they chose too many non-Auckland finalists then.

Birkenhead Henry said...

The real question is: Why are so many Auckland writers so paranoid?