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May 27
Casey Bennetto's ABIA 2014 speech

Casey Bennetto’s Song at the 2014 ABIAs

 

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.

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