UQP announces 2021 recipient of the UQP Quentin Bryce Award
We are thrilled to announce that the 2021 recipient of the UQP Quentin Bryce Award is Sarah Walker’s dazzling essay collection, The First Time I Thought I Was Dying, out in August 2021.
The award, which recognises The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce, is for a book on UQP’s list each year that celebrates women’s lives and/or promotes gender equality. Sarah Walker will receive $10,000 in prize money, and an extra $5,000 will be put towards marketing and publicity for the collection courtesy of The University of Queensland.
Of selecting The First Time I Thought I Was Dying from UQP’s 2021 list, Dame Quentin Bryce says:
‘As soon as I started reading Sarah Walker’s book, I knew I was in the presence of a special writer. There’s a freshness and immediacy to the voice, and an incisiveness and intelligence to the writing, that captured my attention throughout. I am delighted to select The First Time I Thought I Was Dying as the 2021 UQP Quentin Bryce Award winner. This is an insightful, timely and brave book that excavates the many ways that social conditioning and gender stereotyping impact on how we experience our bodies and our minds.’
‘I am excited and moved to be the recipient of the 2021 Quentin Bryce Award. To have this support behind my first publication is such an act of faith and generosity, for which I am very grateful. Quentin has long been a supporter of literature in Australia, so it is fitting that this award represents both institutional support and that most precious of commodities – a period of writing without financial pressure. I am proud to receive it for a work that advocates for an end to bodily shame.’ – Sarah Walker
Dame Quentin Bryce and Sarah Walker will appear at a live event together later this year.
In this striking debut, artist and writer Sarah Walker wrestles with the awkward spaces where anatomy meets society: body image and Photoshop, phobias and religion, sex scenes and onstage violence, death and grief. Her luminous writing is at once specific and universal as she mines the limits of anxiety, intimacy and control. Sharp-witted and poignant, The First Time I Thought I Was Dying explores our unruly bodies and asks how we might learn to embrace our own chaos.
Sarah Walker is a writer, artist and photographer. She makes work about anxiety, control and intimacy in text, video and immersive installation across Australia and internationally. She is a Walkley-nominated essayist and critic, and co-hosted the podcast Contact Mic. She is also one of Australia’s most experienced arts photographers. She lives on Wadawurrung country in Geelong.
‘Breathtakingly good. Darkly funny and deeply true. I was furious when I had to interrupt my reading to put the book down and live.’ – Virginia Gay
About the UQP Quentin Bryce Award
The award recognises The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce, who is an alumna of The University of Queensland and was the first woman appointed as a faculty member of its Law School. From 2003 to 2008 she served as the twenty-fourth Governor of Queensland, and from 2008 to 2014 she was the twenty-fifth Governor General of Australia, the first woman to hold the office. Throughout her career Quentin Bryce has been a strong supporter of the arts and Australia’s cultural life, and she is an ambassador for many related organisations, including the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Stella Prize.
To honour Quentin Bryce’s impressive career and legacy, The University of Queensland and UQP jointly established the UQP Quentin Bryce Award in 2020. The award recognises one book on UQP’s list each year that celebrates women’s lives and/or promotes gender equality. The University of Queensland has provided $15,000 towards the award: $10,000 prize money for the selected author; and $5,000 towards additional marketing and publicity.
The inaugural winner of the award in 2020 was Ellen van Neerven’s second poetry collection, Throat, which has gone on to be shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Awards, a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, the 2021 ALS Gold Medal, and won three awards at the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, the NSW Multicultural Award and Book of the Year.