Casey Bennetto’s Song at the 2014 ABIAs

Casey Bennetto's ABIA 2014 speech


Listen to Casey Bennetto’s Song at the 2014 ABIAs here

The ABIA Awards
Once upon a time, five thousand years ago
Long before the comforts of the world we’ve come to know
Scratching in papyrus with a stiff and trembling reed
The miracle occurred – the writer’s soul was freed.
Ever since that time, as nations rose and fell
We’ve kept our fascination with the stories that they tell
But we didn’t understand the journey underway:
The path of fifty centuries was leading to this day.
Tonight! – the verdict will be heard!
The ultimate appraisal of the written word!
Tonight! – we join with one accord
As legends rise to claim the prize – the ABIA Award.
Some writers keep their heads lodged firmly in their tales
And never see the industry that keeps them on the rails
The tender-hearted publishers – the marketing designs –
The folks that write the blurbs – the thing that glues the spines –
So take some time tonight to celebrate yourselves
You editors and purchasers and stackers of the shelves
It’s you behind the lines, and that’s the gospel truth
And this could be the evening we receive that final proof
Tonight! – you’ll get your chance to shine!
(Along with all you writers – everybody form a line!)
Tonight! – no matter your career!
If you should win an ABIA, it’s all downhill from here.
And the people say “Oh, that holy golden glow!”
The nominees will chatter and pretend it doesn’t matter
But oh! I think deep down they know
That it wouldn’t be too shabby if they snagged ‘emselves an Abbie.
So please enjoy the show, pour yourself some wine
Raise a glass to ev’ryone who made the year so fine
It could well be our last occasion to carouse
Before we all amalgamate with Penguin Random House
Tonight! – there’s joy and jubilee!
They said that print was dead, it looks alive to me
And tonight! – the books we’ve all adored
may realise the greatest prize – the ABIA Award!
In joyful strains, let us present the ABIA Awards!

Amy Tan
Amy Tan, Amy Tan,
well it’s time the proceedings began
Make your way to the mic
Just as soon as you like
To address this illustrious clan!
Amy Tan, Amy Tan
I confess I’m a bit of a fan
From Joy Luck to Amazement
I’ve longed for your gaze
and it’s all gone according to plan!
Let’s rip through these nominees quickly:
Mackay, Hunt, Walsh, Safran and Cope.
Then Hay, Grossi, Hillman, Wilson and Nguyen
Now let’s sneak out the back and elope!
Amy Tan! Amy Tan!
We could make the next plane if we ran
You could make me the happiest man,
Amy Tan!

Cornelia Funke
Children’s literature:
a study in extremes.
Nowadays it’s great big business
but it’s still full of crazy dreams.
Wellsprings of emotion
and inventiveness galore –
so we needed a presenter
who was all of that and more.
We needed somebody smart
with ink in her heart,
fearless through and through.
A fantasy choice,
a passionate voice –
all at once I knew:
We got to get Funke.
Cornelia Funke.
Don’t you know she’d be ideal, yeah
(Funke) Let’s get sweet Cornelia.

Tony Abbott
It’s kind of how it goes in leftie rooms like these –
a conservative PM can feel somewhat ill at ease.
But think on this awhile,
if you should be tempted to boo.
Yes, ruminate on this, if you’re that way inclined –
‘cos I and he may never be politically aligned –
but – please remember
he’s an author too.
He’s sweated over drafts
He’s wrestled with that doubt
He’s argued with Ms Adler on what goes in and out
He’s opened up that box
The first one from the press
He sniffed the ink and poured a drink to toast to its success
And then he went out on tour, on that long promotion track.
I think we paid for some of that but then he paid us back.
Please remember he’s an author too.

Eleanor Catton
Eleanor, I’m tellin’ ya, I need your help now, please!
I know you won the Booker, won’t you take a look at these – nominees?
Ten fine tales from authors of the fiction kind
‘General’ and ‘Literary’, I think I got the two combined.
There’s a grand Queensland estate, and a sombre Nordic scene
There’s a lonely widow’s fate, and a young detective queen
There’s the hell of World War 2, there’s a secret never sent.
There’s a swimmer, a shrink, a lover out of sync, a Fremantle lament…
Eleanor, I’m tellin’ ya, they’re all superbly fine
So tell me as an author, where you gonna draw the line?
Or is ‘Literary’ literally as arbitrary as it looks?
Still, I think we can agree : Ten. Great. Books.

Emma Donoghue
Here comes Emma Donoghue
Novels, plays and histories too
I hoped that I’d bump into you somehow
I know I’m takin’ liberty
But oh how grateful I would be
If you’d write my biography right now
Oh, come on, Emma, I insist
I want my name on next year’s list
With Kate, Mark, Turia, Punter and Saroo
Or just like Peter’s book on Ned,
but we could be up there instead.
Surely global stardom would ensue!
Ah, truth be told, I’d rather see
a happy hagiography
A little book in praise of me from you,
Emma Donoghue!

George Brandis
Our very next presenter
is always, more or less,
a vigorous defender
of freedom of the press.
Upholding your rights,
whatever you’ve penned:
George Brandis,
the publisher’s friend.
He’s been compared to Voltaire –
though mostly by himself –
but there’s still a lot of space there
on that parliamentary shelf
So I’ll defend to the death
his right to expend:
it makes him – George Brandis,
the publisher’s friend.
I’m talkin’ ‘bout sweet George Brandis,
the publisher’s friend.

 The Book Of The Year
Congratulations friends
You’ve made it through the show
We’re almost at the end
Just one award to go
With books as fine as these
The year was greatly blessed
Of all our nominees
It’s hard to choose the best
But now we recognise
The year’s most brilliant tale
The winner of the prize
The volume nonpareil
The greatest text around
The story without peer
Take a look
at the Book
Of The Year.

2014 Australian Book Industry Awards announced in Sydney

The 14th Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) were announced in Sydney tonight in front of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Minister for the Arts George Brandis, with Graeme Simsion’s celebrated novel THE ROSIE PROJECT taking out the coveted Book of the Year award.

Other big winners included the recipient of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton, for International Book of the Year and the multi-award-winning debut BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent, who beat illustrious fellow contenders Richard Flanagan, Fiona McFarlane, Christos Tsiolkas and Tim Winton to scoop Literary Fiction Book of the Year. The full list of winners is below.

The ABIAs judging panel awarded the night’s top accolade to THE ROSIE PROJECT because of author Graeme Simsion’s passion and energy in promoting it, and because Text Publishing – which also took out Small Publisher of the Year in the business awards – achieved great success in launching a debut author in a difficult market, commending in particular the publisher’s “exemplary” marketing, social media and publicity campaigns. The judges called the book “an engaging, comic story”.

Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of the Australian Publishers Association said: “Congratulations to the winners and to everyone involved with all the shortlisted books. The MC was moved to song about the book industry. The guests of honour were a Prime Minister who’s an author and an Attorney-General who’s an avid reader. One of the prize-winners was a VC, and the Book of the Year prize was awarded to a novelist whose other books are on data modelling. It’s hard to imagine a better demonstration of how alive the book industry is and how central it is to Australian life.”

The winners were announced tonight at a dinner at Doltone House in Sydney’s Pyrmont, and they represent Australia’s finest and most popular writers and industry personalities. The ABIAs are divided into two categories: book awards and business awards. In the business awards, the highly anticipated Lloyd O’Neil Award for Outstanding Service to the Australian Book Industry was award posthumously to legendary novelist Bryce Courtenay, who passed away in 2012. His wife Christine Courtenay accepted the honour on her late husband’s behalf. The Pixie O’Harris Award for Distinguished and Dedicated Service to the Development and Reputation of Australian Children’s Books went to Angela Namoi, Children’s Rights Director at Allen & Unwin.

The 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards go to:


Industry award winners are:

Ann Poublon’s Excellent Bookselling Career

Lloyd O'Neil Award Memories

Lloyd O’Neil was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1991 in recognition of his distinguished service to the local publishing industry. The award that commemorates this exceptional figure recognises the long service of similarly outstanding individuals in the Australian book world. Ann Poublon, influential Perth-based bookseller and long-time Dymocks franchisee, received the honour at the 2012 Australian Book Industry Awards and remembers her shock on the night.

“Winning the prestigious Lloyd O’Neil was something I never ever expected,” Mrs Poublon said. “I was truly surprised to be called up by my friend Ross Gibb who presented me with the Award, and I felt greatly honoured and also very humble about it, as I could not understand why I was chosen.”

Ann is the 22nd recipient of The Lloyd O’Neil Award and a member of an elite group of accomplished and dedicated book industry professionals, the full list of whom you can find here:

Lloyd O’Neil was a pioneer of Australian publishing. He began his career as a bookseller in Angus & Robertson’s Castlereagh Street store and went on to become an insightful and talented publisher, printing popular mass market titles that captured the mood of the Australian public and developing hugely successful educational and travel lists. He ended his career as an associate director with, and adviser to, Penguin Books Australia and agreed to give his name to this award before he passed away in 1992.

“I just do what I enjoy most. I love the industry, the publishers, publicists, reps and my staff who I work with every day, and hope that I will be able to continue doing what I enjoy for some time to come. I just missed not having my family with me on the Awards night to share it with me as they are very much part of what keeps me going. I am grateful to all who voted for me.”— Ann Poublon.