By Deb A.
The world's richest short story competition—this year's winner of the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award will take home around $38,000—closed for entries this past week. While writers around the world cross their fingers, British public radio has an incentive for the next generation of authors to start typing.
BBC Radio 2's 500 Words is the world's biggest short story competition for young people. Open only to UK residents aged 5–13, it nevertheless attracted nearly 135,000 entries last year, and more than 800,000 stories altogether since its inception in 2011. The rules are simple: Children can submit one original story that is no longer than 500 words. And mixing up your and you're is no tragedy: Spelling, grammar, and punctuation don't count. Originality, plot, characterisation, language, and enjoyment do.
Created to foster a love for reading and writing at an early age, the competition offers some fantastic prizes for the winners of each age group (5–9 and 10–13). Gold Award winners will receive a stack of books as tall as the competition's chair, former Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans (that's 1.88m); 500 books for their school library; and a tour of a BBC children's TV show. Silver Award winners will take home the Honourary Judge's height in books; a quick search for Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall's height yields 1.73m. Entrants should make sure to eat their vegetables, as a Bronze Award will earn them their own height in books. All six winners will also receive an illustration of their story by an acclaimed children's illustrator.
Every entry has been sent to the Oxford University Press since 2012, creating a corpus of 328 million words and counting. An analysis of the data showed that last year, the environment, gaming, women in history, and unicorns were all popular themes. Plastic, used to indicate pollution, was the word of the year.
The 2019 submission deadline is March 7; aspiring authors can find learning resources as well as inspiration (for instance, David Walliams's enthusiastic reading of last year's Gold Award winner for ages 5–9, Evan Boxall's The Poo Fairy) on the 500 Words website.
For slightly older short story enthusiasts, 500 Words is also looking for UK teachers and librarians to act as volunteer judges and whittle down the entries to a long list.
By Deb A.
What makes a book difficult, and is that a bad thing? (The Guardian)
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation has announced its shortlist for next year's prize.
Behind the scenes with the impressive list of celebrities reading children to sleep on CBeebies Bedtime Stories. (BBC)
Jawohl! The Deutsche Welle has put together a list of 100 must-reads translated from German into English.
Artist Tania Willard's recent work turns the wind into a poet. (CBC)
The science is in on how to become a successful artist. (artnet; full study, published in Science, available here)
The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books are here!
By Deb A.
Here are some tidbits you may have missed this week.
"Alas for me! I am dead!": Ancient speech bubbles have been discovered in Jordan. (Atlas Obscura)
World of WearableArt celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year. (World of WearableArt)
Film, sculpture, performance, installations, activist architecture—but not a paintbrush in sight. The Turner Prize shortlist is here. (Tate)
Speaking of shortlists, the Photobox Instagram Photography Awards has one and there isn't a single shot of brunch to be seen. (PIPA)
Caitriona Lally won this year's Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her debut novel, Eggshells. The award is given by Trinity College Dublin, Ms. Lally's alma mater and current employer; she has been working there as a cleaner since 2015. (CBC Radio)
How to probably not corrupt your child: Read them books that have been banned. Julia Pistell celebrates Banned Books Week. (Shondaland)
And now that you've reached the end, stop scrolling and get back to your book—but take a look at Joe Moran's examination of slow reading first. (The Guardian)
By Deb A.
Happy Canada Day! Just two days ago a new slew of recipients of the Order of Canada were announced. The many-tiered award was established on Canada's centennial 51 years ago to recognise "outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation." Here are the individuals who were appointed to the Order of Canada for their contributions to Canadian art and literature:
Canada's first female astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar was recognised not only for her work in space medicine research, but also for promoting environmental sustainability—in particular through photography and writing. Her fifth photo essay book will be published soon.
Journalist and author Lise Bissonnette received an Order of Canada for her work as a journalist and author, as well as for her pivotal leadership role at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
American-born sculptor-painter Eli Bornstein became a Canadian citizen in 1972. He was honoured by the Order of Canada for his groundbreaking structurist reliefs and his contributions to art theory as the founder of journal The Structurist.
Hédi Bouraoui is a poet, novelist, and essayist. He received the Order of Canada for his various writings and his theories on cultural boundaries and identities.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Exile Quarterly Barry Callaghan has been lauded as a preeminent man of letters. The poet, writer, and painter was named to the Order of Canada for promoting Canadian literature at home and abroad.
Writer, artist, and art critic Gary Michael Dault has been writing about Canadian art for decades; he currently writes a weekly column for the Globe and Mail. His commitment to celebrating visual artists was a key factor in his inclusion on this year's list.
Anyone who has ever read I Want My Hat Back to their child will appreciate that illustrator and author Jon Klassen was named to the Order of Canada this year for his work as an illustrator and author of children's literature.
He is the artist and graphic designer responsible for the CBC's iconic 1974 logo: Burton Kramer received his honour for his extensive and influential contributions to the field of graphic design.
Scott Thornley's contributions to "the advancement of our collective appreciation of art, culture, science, and education through his unique graphic and verbal designs" were recognised this year—a sure boon for his consultancy, STC.
Novelist and essayist Aritha van Herk's work has shone an international spotlight on the western Canadian experience; her books, essays, and other writing have been translated into ten languages.
Elizabeth Hillman Waterston is Professor Emeritus of the University of Guelph. She is a founding editor of Canadian Children's Literature, an authority on Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the author of several books. She was named to the Order of Canada for her role in developing the academic field of Canadian literature, and for her years of mentoring Canadian authors.
By Deb A.
Summer is festival time. Here's a sample of just some of the events for bookworms, art lovers, and photography fans taking place this season.
Athens Photo Festival 2018
6 June –29 July; Athens, Greece
The main exhibition at the Benaki Museum was curated from over 100 entries; there is also a Young Greek Photographers exhibit.
21 June–1 July; Lodz, Poland
One of Poland's first major photography events in 2001, this year's festival looks at the Anthropocene epoch with over 30 exhibitions.
23 June–1 July; Leipzig, Germany
This year the biennial festival for photography will examine how photography can be used for democracy and mediation.
National Arts Festival
28 June–8 July; Grahamstown, South Africa
Visitors get free entry to exhibitions by "hundreds of visual artists working in almost every conceivable medium," including I am because you are: A search for Ubuntu with permission to dream and Sister Sister, an all-female exhibition.
29 June–1 July; London, England
Somali-British poet Warsan Shire will headline the U.K.'s biggest annual African literary festival, which features book launches, workshops, masterclasses, panels, and roundtables with authors from a dozen countries.
Read by the Sea
2–7 July; River John, Canada
A festival that brings some of Canada's best authors and poets to a small town in Nova Scotia; WordPlay, a children's event, will include Paulette Bourgeois (Franklin the Turtle).
2 July–23 September; Arles, France
"Cross space and time with a breathtaking, celestial journey across the ages"—who could resist an invitation like that?
Antiparos International Photo Festival
7–16 July; Antiparos, Greece
With a maximum of just 15 photographers, this mostly open-air event may be the smallest international photography festival in the world.
Upfest—The Urban Paint Festival
28–30 July; Bristol, England
Europe's largest, free street art and graffiti festival, with artists from around the world painting 60,000 square feet of surfaces. Also includes an affordable art sale.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
3–27 August; Edinburgh, Scotland
It bills itself as "the world's greatest platform for creative freedom," as well as "the single biggest celebration of arts and culture on the planet," neither of which is an empty boast. Featuring spoken word performances, art exhibits, plays, dance, cabaret, and more, it is perhaps best-known for comedy.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
9–19 August; Kilkenny, Ireland
Enjoy the music, theatre, dance, and art, but don't let it distract you from attending a poetry workshop with poet-in-residence Eavan Boland.
17–19 August; Kampala, Uganda
In its sixth year, Uganda's leading literary festival will be looking to build on its foundations and set the tone for the next five years.
Queensland Poetry Festival
36–26 August; Queensland, Australia
Poet-in-residence Yona Harvey will offer workshops, talks, and more; the winner of the Emerging Older Poets Mentorship will read, and a poet will be selected to represent Queensland in the Australia Poetry Slam.
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