Governor General’s Literary Award–winning poet Jacob Scheier has weighed in on the Ali Smith/Giller Prize controversy on Now Magazine‘s website. As you may recall, Scheier himself was at the centre of an awards scandal after winning the GG in 2008, when it was discovered that jurors Di Brandt and Pier Giorgio Di Cicco had clear ties to both him and his collection, More to Keep Us Warm.
I [want] to draw a significant parallel between that controversy and this year’s Giller uproar, a parallel that holds true for many, if not every, literary award controversy.
What happens in these ‘controversies’ is the mainstream media jumps on conflict, regardless of the facts (or lack thereof), and stamps the words ‘scandal’ in a big bold writing. They use these words, of course, to get us to read about it. If they could, with any legitimacy, add the word ‘sex’ to the headline, they would.
But I don’t blame media outlets for that. I blame the fiction writers and poets, the ones who fuel these dust-ups, by writing their speculations on their blogs and Facebook pages for the media to pick up.
I would urge all writers when they hear the siren sizzle of juicy gossip to stay off Facebook and blogs, and, if you have to, put that gossip where it belongs: into a good story.