Judging work great honour
ROBYN Sheahan-Bright’s love for literature has taken her to some esteemed places.
And this year has been no exception for the Gladstone writing and publishing consultant: invited to judge the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
Speaking with The Observer on Tuesday, Dr Sheahan-Bright said it was a great honour to be invited to judge the literary awards, which celebrate the contribution of Australian literature to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.
Held annually, the awards recognise literature’s importance to our national identity, community and economy.
“I have done quite a lot of judging,” Dr Sheahan-Bright said.
“It’s a great honour to be asked to judge these awards considering how relatively new they are.”
Dr Sheahan-Bright was one of nine Australian book industry professionals invited by the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts to form the Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s Fiction and Young Adult Fiction judging panels for the 2010 awards.
Together, the judging panels reviewed more than 300 books entered into the awards.
Based on the judging panels’ recommendations a final decision on the short-listed books has now been released with the winners of the awards to be made by the Prime Minister later this year.
As chair of the Children’s Fiction and Young Adult Fiction panel, Dr Sheahan-Bright worked with speech and language pathologist Mary-Ruth Mendel and State Library of Victoria’s Centre for Youth Literature program co-ordinator Mike Shuttleworth to narrow down the about 150 books submitted for this category.
After many hours of reading the submitted books, teleconferencing, emailing and discussions the trio narrowed the list to nine books in the Children’s Fiction and seven in the Young Adult Fiction.
“We had just over 100 submissions in the children’s category and 45 in the teenage category,” Dr Sheahan-Bright said.
“We were looking at works from established publishers, debut novelists and new voices.
“I was very impressed with the quality of the submissions.
“It is always very difficult to go from a long list to a short list.
“There were very well a lot of books which could have fallen into that short list.”
Over the years Dr Sheahan-Bright has judged a number of literary awards, and is currently program manager for the sixth biennial Residential Editorial Program 2010 funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council and administered by the Australian Publishers Association.