The full list of NSW Premier’s Literary Awards winners was published today, underlining why I’ll never be able to live from my writing. You can’t live off literary prize money, and unless you sell your soul to write popular commercial pap, there’s no livelihood in it.
Luckily, I have a real job. I don’t need to mow lawns, wash dishes, or make lattes in some pretentious hipster cafe so that I can sip claret in a garret, ‘suffering for my art’ and calling myself a ‘Writer’.
Luckily, I also lack talent.
But mostly I’m also the wrong gender. Women scooped almost all the awards this year — à ma grande surprise — but of course the literary industry in Australia is a feminist monoculture whose idea of progress is to give three (3) awards to an untalented Aboriginal woman.
I already joined the ‘controversy‘ which resulted from the inclusion of Ellen Van Neerven’s infantile ‘poem’ Mango in the year 12 English final exam. If you want to revisit me at my best and worst, go here. You are welcome.
To escape the sexism, racism, agism and other hidden-isms to be a considered for an award in 2022 I’d have to smash my ethnic upbringing into a million little pieces beore rewriting it as a bildungsroman of triumph over adversity; either that, or pretend to be non-binary, or a woman.
But I’m not an ethnic woman of elusive gender, despite the obvious benefits of such illusivity. So as much as I’d like to give up my day job, live in the gym, grow my hair long, plait my beard and become festooned in runic tattoos, I’ll never write that fake Nordic memoir which nobody wants to read.
Instead, the industry groom people like Van Neerven, whose bogus ‘success’ elevates her to the literary pantheon where anything that crawls from her pen to die on a page will be heralded a masterpiece. While you can’t polish a turd, no matter how many Literary Awards you rub into it, right now and perhaps forevermore, I am not what the industry wants.
With all due credit to the author Ellen Van Neerven (because who else would want to be blamed), this is what passes for Literature now:
breaks into backyards
to trouble families
we cannot live
with the seas in our bellies
we cannot rest
with the sea at our legs
we want to know
of love and tradition
let them see
what has gone under