Tag Archives: pineapple prize

Pineapple Prize 2012 Winner

The Orange Prize has been in the news more than usual in the past week. First there was the announcement that it has lost its corporate sponsorship, and that was followed, predictably, by discussions about the need for a prize for women’s writing in the first place. Finally, yesterday saw the announcement of the worthy winner, Madeline Miller’s debut novel The Song of Achilles (Bloomsbury, 2011).

Amidst this media circus, the PG CWWN steering group are pleased to announce the winner of our own Pineapple Prize (independently drawn from a hat). The winner was Katrina Naomi’s nomination of Loudness (Seren, 2011).

This collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2011, and follows Brown’s earlier pamphlet publication and appearences in anthologies such as Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, 2010). Katrina nominated Loudness on Facebook ‘because it takes risks, both in subject matter and language, and it’s clever without being too ‘knowing’. It’s one of my favourite recently-published poetry collections’.

Katrina wins a £10 Waterstones book voucher, and has chosen to donate two copies of her nominated text to local libraries in Streatham (London) and Margate (Kent).

The Pineapple Prize 2012 has been kindly sponsored by Waterstones, Leicester Highcross

@WaterstonesLHX

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Pineapple Prize: Nomination Blog Series (4)

PG CWWN Steering Group members propose their nominations for The Pineapple Prize 2012. Cat Mc Gurren nominates a provocative choice.

I’ve decided to go for a controversial choice. Scarlett O’Kelly’s Between the Sheets (Penguin Ireland, 2012) is an account of a middle class woman’s year spent as a high-class escort. The book has caused quite a stir in recession hit Ireland, with reactions ranging from outrage to censure to disbelief. The book has hit a nerve with people, who, like Scarlett, are lumbered with huge mortgages, negative equity, increasing taxes and a decreasing job market. The writer nominates herself as a spokesperson for this generation:

‘Ireland was lifted to dizzying heights during the boom years, but now we’ve been dashed hard on the rocks. I think people feel it socially and personally – like we’re all little wrecks, washed up and with no prospect of being repaired’. (129)

Between the Sheets is not high literature, but it is a political memoir. At a time in Ireland where prostitution is increasingly seen in essentialist terms as victimising women, this book argues that escort work can be empowering and enjoyable. Scarlett is pragmatic about this:

‘I think of it as a normal job where you have your professional self and then your weekend self. If I’d been any other committed responsible professional from Monday to Friday, would you have expected me to feel guilt if, on Saturday, I wore a mini dress, drank ten cocktails and had a one night stand with a stranger? (158)’

She points out the hypocrisy in a society where licentious sex is now the norm but prostitution is stigmatised and written about in a sensationalist manner. Scarlett is unafraid to be provocative, speaking explicitly about her sexual encounters with clients and her own sexual desires, with a chapter dedicated to advising women on sex toys. This is an important feminist book for modern Ireland, which challenges the sanctimony of a country where the law continues to criminalise women involved in prostitution, punishing those society deems to be ‘victims’ of prostitution. Scarlett of course acknowledges the terrible crime of sex trafficking as a separate issue, but her sex-positive approach and argument for the legalisation of the sex trade provides a refreshing read.

‘I don’t think the world – certainly not my world – is ready for the escort who enjoys what she does and makes it work well for her. Most people either couldn’t believe it or wouldn’t want it to be true because it would challenge their notions of women and female sexuality. (242)’

I advise you all to read this book, and let it challenge your assumptions about modern prostitution and the men who use them. This book deserves to win the Pineapple Prize because it is brave and feminist, and very much a part of the zeitgeist.

Cat McGurren, Queen’s University Belfast

Pineapple Prize: Nomination Blog Series (3)

PG CWWN Steering Group members propose their nominations for The Pineapple Prize 2012. Cheeky joint nomination from Claire O’Callaghan and Amy Rushton.

‘Rather than bun fight over who gets to nominate our chosen book, we decided to join forces to pitch our view that Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman (2011) is a heavy contender for the Pineapple Prize 2012.

We both read this book upon publication in early 2011, and Moran’s non-fictional prose blew our socks off. How To Be A Woman rewrites Germaine Greer’s feminist classic The Female Eunuch and asks what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. However, it is also a hilariously funny women’s lib text for women in the 21st century. As Amy Weir so eloquently suggests: “It’s less about bra burning and boardroom quotas and more about bikini waxing and botox (she vehemently detests both – yelling ‘grow your little minge-fro back!’ ) but every bit as empowering”. If that still doesn’t appeal, how about Laurie Penny’s description of it being “like [Nancy Friday’s] My Secret Garden as written by Lady Gaga in a skip in Wolverhampton, with knob gags”?

As a bestseller and recent winner of ‘Book of the Year’ (as voted by the public), How To Be A Woman isn’t exactly crying out for attention. However, we both feel that its importance to contemporary women’s writing cannot be overlooked. Line after line, Moran’s modern witty text combines moving memoir-esque insights from her own experience with “you-go-girl” feminist style ranting; it is exceptionally funny but also covers a range of deeply important topics, most prominently her reclamation for ‘the f word’:

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

Do we agree with Moran’s version of feminism wholeheartedly? Of course not: there are a number of issues that any reader will disagree with, in terms of one’s own personal viewpoints of womanhood and feminist politics. But scrupulousness of argument is not the driving force of Moran’s book: How To Be A Woman derives its power from writing about feminism in such an accessible, informal way that it seems like an utterly commonsensical concept. And HURRAH for that, as the good lady herself might write.’

Claire O’Callaghan, University of Leicester
Amy Rushton, Goldsmiths (University of London) 

Pineapple Prize: Nomination Blog Series (2)

PG CWWN Steering Group members propose their nominations for The Pineapple Prize 2012. Second to pitch, Emma Young.

‘I’ve already submitted my Pineapple Prize nomination via Twitter. I’ve chosen Gemma Seltzer’s first short story collection Speak to Strangers which was published in June 2011 by Penned in the Margins.

I received this book at the end of 2011 as a new title to review for the online journal The Short Review and it instantly blew me away. I have nominated this book because it has been the collection of short stories (and I have read many this last year) which really impressed me and I would urge everyone to give it a try!

Originally conceived as a daily blog, Speak to Strangers is a collection of one hundred short stories each comprising one hundred words and depicts the experience of observing and interacting with strangers in London. It blends perfectly the multitude of voices that one person can witness on an ordinary day on their journey through the city. The structure of the book and stories challenges the boundaries of the form as the culmination of blog, poetry and narrative all intertwine to provide a thought-provoking and surprisingly vivid reading experience. The collection as a whole demonstrates a depth and variety so diverse that it is difficult to believe that this is one person’s journey in just one city. In lifting snapshots from her daily life, recollections of conversations heard, Seltzer creates stories that offer us an almost incomprehensible selection of characters and scenery.

However, whilst all this makes it a strong contender for The Pineapple Prize 2012, I think the quality that reaffirms Speak to Strangers as a clear winner is the brilliance of its concept. The success of Speak to Strangers as an online blog of short stories and its following translation in to a published short story collection acknowledges the versatility of short fiction as well as the positive impact digital publishing can have on literature today. Seltzer shows us how everyday life and experience is, and can easily become, art and this wonderful short story collection is a living example of such a claim.

Discover some of the stories for yourself on the blog but for the full experience, as the book has been edited and rearranged from the original blog, the book is essential. My tip: take a wander around your town or city and sit in the middle of the hustle and bustle, read a story or two, it will truly open your eyes to strangers!’

Emma Young, University of Leicester

Pineapple Prize: Nomination Blog Series (1)

PG CWWN Steering Group members propose their nominations for The Pineapple Prize 2012. First up, Alex Pryce.

 

‘I’ve already submitted my Pineapple Prize nomination via Twitter. I’ve chosen Leontia Flynn’s third poetry collection Profit and Loss which was published in September 2011 by Cape Poetry.

There are two reasons for my nomination. The most obvious of these is that this is a text my thesis will be looking at, so I’ve spent more time studying it in the past months than I have looking at any other recent publication. The other reason is that it is really very good.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, subtitled ‘A Gothic’, is composed of 29 short(ish) poems which address everything from family tragedy to receiving unsolicited pornography in the mail. As you might guess, then, some of these poems are humourous, some are dark, and some are darkly humourous. The second section is a 11 page poem ‘Letter to Friends’, the first long poem of Flynn’s career. This takes its subject from moving house and addresses a variety of modern issues in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. The final section is more delicate and seems a little overshadowed by its proximity to the sensory overload of ‘Letter to Friends’. However, the ‘versions’ of Catullus and  but it is considered and at times brilliant.

You don’t have to take my word alone on this matter. Fran Brearton says that ‘Profit and Loss is a serious book, engaged with the world in which we live; and it is engaging too – thoughtful, prescient and eminently readable’. Amanda Claire Eades acknowledges that ‘[t]here is something special in the pages of Profit and Loss […] This is a collection that has depth and confidence, without ever being tangled in poetic technique: Flynn impresses without trying.’

And, since @MarkAnthonyOwen has also nominated Profit and Loss, Flynn is surely a strong contender for our inaugural Pineapple Prize.’

Alex Pryce, University of Oxford

The Pineapple Prize 2012: The PG CWWN Prize for Contemporary Women’s Writing

 

Post your nomination online and you could win a £10 Waterstones voucher!

As great as the Orange Prize for Fiction is, all lovers of contemporary women’s writing have experienced frustration at a seemingly obvious oversight: even more so if you’re also a fan of poetry, drama, non-fiction and the short story. So here’s your chance to champion your most recent favourite writing by a female writer. Presenting…. The Pineapple Prize! We would love you to post your nominations for books that in your view deserve recognition on Facebook and Twitter before 21 May 2012.

We will then draw up a list of all nominations on our website, with the eventual winner announced on May 31 (the day after the announcement of the Orange winner). All those who tweet or post their nominations will be entered into a prize draw to win a £10 Waterstones gift card and two copies of the nominated book to donate to a library, book group, charity, hospital, school or similar of their choice.

The Rules

  • Just tweet your nomination @pgcwwn (tag ‘#pineapple’) or post in our Facebook group (PG CWWN). Please make sure to mention the name of the text and author!
  • You can nominate any novel, non-fiction book, poetry, short story collection, drama text, or even an individual poem or short story – so long as it has been written by a female writer and published in either hardback, paperback or digitally between May 2011 to April 2012.
  • No novels that have been listed for this year’s Orange Prize.
  • You can submit as many nominations as you like, as long as they fit the stated criteria.
  • If you have room, feel free to squeeze in a few words regarding why you loved it.

Sponsored by Waterstones, Leicester Highcross

@WaterstonesLHX