Stacey Mason/Mark Bernstein
The Poole Literary Festival has selected Christine Wilks’ Underbelly for the New Media Writing Prize. Michael Bhaskar, one of the judges, gives an overview of a couple of the pieces and the diversity of the field. He writes that
Underbelly is an intense, educational, visceral experience, that delves deep into new media territory and transforms our expectations of what could be called literature. Exploring the experience of women miners in the nineteenth century the look, sound and writing of the piece are all magnificently distinctive and skillfully designed. I learned a lot “reading” and it hung around for days. This is powerful stuff.
Bkaskar underestimates how long new media literature has existed – he thinks tr(A)ce a precursor – but he makes a useful point that new media could benefit from "the market or at least reader focused approach of commercial publishing.” Of course, market-driven publishing is often deplored by writers, and is among the main reasons for having literary festivals and awards. If publishers and the marketplace made consistently sound judgments of quality, we’d simply read best-sellers and would hardly need the Booker, Pulitzer, Nobel, PEN, or Poole awards!
Congratulations to Christine Wilks!