Laureates of Australian literature including Nobel Prize winner JM Coetzee and Miles Franklin winner Charlotte Wood have declared their support for UWA Publishing in a defiant and impassioned open letter. The organisation’s future is in jeopardy following a shock announcement from the University earlier this month, with today the last day of consultation for UWAP staff.
Signed by writers, academics, publishers, associations, students, illustrators, booksellers and other interested parties, the letter scorns the financial justifications put forward by the university to close the traditional publishing arm of the business in favour of a digital open-access model.
“We accept no economic argument,” the letter reads. “Money has been found for the arts and for academic research in the past; and it will be found again in the future. That is because we understand the society we live in is a dull and lifeless prison without these things.”
It also maintains that closing the press would countervail the growing number of Indigenous voices gaining recognition and claiming space in Australian publishing, enriching the stories and histories of the nation.
“We are without doubt this closure will substantially cut down Indigenous voices in writing and the publication of local First Nations’ substantiated and researched history,” it reads. “In turn, competing for limited opportunities with academic publishers outside Western Australia, shutting down UWAP will cut chances for publication of First Nation voices in other states.
“We protest for our culture and for those not born into it yet. They should have UWAP press to be proud of as we have every reason to be proud of it now.”
Among the many notable signatories of the letter includes Booker Prize-winner Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark (adapted into the movie Schindler’s List), Geordie Williamson, chief literary critic at The Australian, and poet Judith Beveridge, who won the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award.
A pop-up protest festival organised by the NTEU’s WA Division will be held this afternoon outside Winthrop Hall.Do you have an idea for a story?
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