Grants and Awards (Part 2)

September 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm 2 comments

Rant ahead.

I’ve got beef, and it’s with two of the biggest queer lit organisations today. I wrote about this last year and posted it on a public group. In view of the announcement in Part 1, I thought it timely to resurrect the argument, particularly as Lambda posts its new Awards guidelines on 1 October and submissions for both Lambda and The Publishing Triangle-related awards will be taken soon.

I publish lesbian e-books and upon checking both LLF and PT’s awards’ eligibility rules, I discovered to my sad surprise the following:

  • The Lambda Literary Awards only accept for nomination books that are published and distributed (“i.e. available in bookstores”) in the US. E-books in that jurisdiction are eligible but hardcopies must be provided for nomination.
  • The Publishing Triangle (PT), which organises the Ferro-Grumley Awards for LGBT Fiction, the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, the Randy Shilts-Judy Grahn awards for G&L nonfiction, the Audre Lorde and Thom Gunn award for L&G poetry, only accept for nomination books (hardcopy only, e-books are excluded) published in the US or Canada.

However:

  • The Lambda Literary Foundation accepts membership fees from the global community. Their mission is “to celebrate LGBT literature and provide resources for writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, and librarians – the whole literary community.”
  • Membership of PT is “open to anyone interested in the growth of lesbian and gay writers, literature, and publishers.” There is a fee for this membership, which is not explicitly (though it may be inferred as) restricted to Americans and Canadians.

As an Australian based publisher and writer of lesbian fiction, I am discouraged by the exclusivity of these organisations for limiting nominations to only US/Ca publications. And for not recognising or accepting digital resources such as e-books, an increasingly available option for and parallel to the print market.

If it was unequivocally stated that they are only promoting US and Canadian publications, I would understand. However, their claim is to represent the growth and best of LGBT literature, and they do so while accepting financial dues from members all over the world.

This process seems to indicate that non-US/Canadian LGBT literature is not suitable for nomination merely on the requirement that they must be published in the US/Ca to qualify for consideration. The Awards themselves are not expressly identified as exclusively US/Ca. The themes presented are universal, but the requirement for nomination is geographically limited. Surely this is unnecessary and redundant in today’s enterprise? Such a requirement is unsupportive of the development of more LGBT presses and, in my view, only serves to protect the existing US/Ca market.

I have written to both Lambda Lit and PT asking for clarification why books neither published in nor available in US/Ca stores are not eligible for nomination. (Our e-anthologies are, as with most e-publishing, only available in soft copy over the internet but we do not limit redistribution as our books are free. Ironically, we have had the most take-ups from North America). I have yet to receive a satisfactory response.

I do not begrudge the nominees or winners of these Awards. Any work that helps to progress LGBTIQ literature is welcome, and these and other similar organisations are important.

The point of my argument is that these distinguished bodies ought to either expand their view of ‘publications’ or explicitly acknowledge whom they serve. Their selection process clearly excludes the rest of the LGBT literary world outside of US/Ca. This is even as they continue to advocate themselves as representative of the best and promote their position into overseas markets.

Added today:

The Golden Crown Literary Society, an organisation that claims to represents Lesbian Fiction in its entirety, has a fairly detailed explanation on its nominating – but not the judging – process for its awards. Alas, at last count, e-books were not accepted. However, they don’t explicitly exclude English language print books published outside North America.

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Entry filed under: Advocates, e-books, Opinion, Queer lit. Tags: , .

Grants and Awards (Part 1) Zucchini burger

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. karina  |  September 11, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I’m sorry to read this. It’s too bad that there are such barriers within our community. But it’s expected. *ALERT* *sarcasm coming*. Haven’t you heard? The US and Canada are THE world. Particularly the US. They’ve even kicked out all the other countries in their continent by promoting themselves as “America”. It makes me want to hit someone on the head with a ruler and shout, “C’mon! Learn some Geography.” It still bugs me, I know I should just get over it and save myself a few headaches. But it bugs me. Sorry, can’t help ranting about it.

    The awards and scholarships that have helped me throughout my life have come from mainstream channels. But I know eventually I’ll want to pitch to the LGBT world of publishing and fanfare. I don’t have to worry about my location, since I’m assuming I’ll be in Canada. But as a Mexican, I can certainly empathize with your situation.

    If you have any unpublished manuscripts, there’s this: http://www.awpwriter.org/contests/series.htm
    It’s not LGBT, but there’s some money and US publication, which may get you in the door while humankind sorts out its issues with borders and validation based on geographical criteria.

    Reply
  • 2. evecho  |  September 11, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Hi Karina, thanks for the AWP link, I’ll certainly check it out and pass on the word. As for nation arrogance, sigh.It’s just too hard to fight the myopia, but I trust that in time, with expanding migration, cultural barriers will disappear. However, I’d like to see some retention of cultural history otherwise the world will just be one techno blob.

    Reply

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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.