[Spellyans] Holyer an Gof 2010

Michael Everson everson at evertype.com
Wed Aug 18 16:35:51 BST 2010

Here is the response of another of those bards, along with my response:

On 18 Aug 2010, at 00:52, a bard wrote:

> Dear Mr Everson,
> I don't think we've met, I've no knowledge of your products, I'm no supporter of any publisher per se, nor am I a supporter of any single Cornish language variant, but I am honoured to be a bard of Gorsedh Kernow. 

As well you should be. 

> I do not know who comprises the Holyer an Gof committee. However, the bards I know are honourable men and women who think for themselves, select principled criteria, and make rational judgements based on those criteria.

I don't know who they are either. I'm sure they're very nice people. Just as I'm sure you and I are. 

The fact, however, is that in previous years in the Cornish Language section of this prize secondary and tertiary prizes (High Commendation and Commendation) were given for books entered, and that this year such prizes *were* awarded in other categories. 

The fact that my books (which are really rather splendid) were snubbed appears to be a deliberate political decision on the part of a person or persons within the Gorseth. 

> I'm interested to hear of your books; I wish them success.

If you would like to see what was submitted, see http://astore.amazon.co.uk/kernowek-21 -- And if you'd like to see even more, you can go to amazon.co.uk and type in "evertype" and "cornish". You can use Amazon's "Look Inside!" feature to see what the books look like. I'm not even lobbying you to buy them; you can look for free. 

> I am sorry to think you are disappointed, but I suspect there is increasing and intense competition in your field.

To be honest, I'm not disappointed for my own sake. I'm disappointed for the sake of the Gorseth. Intense competition, you say? Perhaps so. In fact (though you might not know it) in 2009 I published more new books in Cornish than any other publisher. 

But I wasn't crowded out by other publishers winning the High Commendations and Commendations, either. This year, it was decided to give only a joint First Prize to the Kesva and Cowethas, and to snub everybody else. I say again: The Holyer an Gof committee has told the world that in their view, apart from a fat KK dictionary and a skinny reprint of some kiddies' songs, no books of merit appeared in 2009.

That doesn't look very "honourable". It looks like a political stitch-up. Give a prize to the Kemmyn book, and share it with the SWF reprint (of a mere 24 songs) and dismiss everything else. 

Like 125,000 words of Cornish-language fiction.

> You ask me what I think.

I did, and I thank you for telling me.

> I think it is clear that you care deeply about Cornish-language material. I salute anyone working to advance Cornish culture.

I do, and I thank you for saying so. In fact, the response of Holyer an Gof has not daunted me. It will not deter me from continuing to publish, either. For my part, I hope to honour the legacy of Gwas Myghal, Henry Jenner. 

> However, whilst I can understand your frustration, I fail to see the rationale of your public utterance. I'm concerned that some will not see it as a constructive way to engage with Gorsedh Kernow or initiate a dialogue of enquiry  or mutual understanding with the H an G committee.

I have made a "public utterance" because the choices made this year reflect *badly* on the Gorseth and on that competition. 

You'd never heard of my books. The Holyer prize, in snubbing them, helps to make sure that nobody else hears of them either. And I do say "snub" because nothing *prevented* them from Commending anything except a prejudice against ... well, what? A "foreign" publisher? A critic of KK? A user of an orthography that corrects identified mistakes in the SWF? The translator? The book covers and typography are attractive enough. And the Holyer an Gof rules did not specify which orthographies were "acceptable" and which were not. Nothing prevented Commendation or High Commendation but a choice to refrain from recognizing eight books from one publisher -- the one publisher who published more Cornish-language content than any other in 2009. 

Or from recognizing any of the books which Agan Tavas or Spyrys a Gernow submitted. I haven't made this complaint because of my own ego or craving for glory. I've made it because this year, "fairness" was wanting. I can't imagine "principled criteria" that would have made this year's awards different from previous years. 

No one in the Gorseth or on the Holyer an Gof committee has never communicated to me, apart from sending an invitation to the prize ceremony which arrived only a day before the event because they hadn't put enough international postage to get the invitation to me in Ireland in time. I'm certainly glad I didn't spend the £200 it would have cost me to attend. 

I will of course submit more books next year. Two were published in February -- a new edition of Jenner's Handbook, and a bilingual novel by Alan Kent.

I have sent out my e-mail to a number of bards whose addresses I have, because I think that this stinks. I want to encourage you and your fellow bards to talk about this. It's all very well to be sure that honourable people made rational judgements. But from here in the trenches it looks otherwise. I thought it important that some of the bards learned this.

Michael Everson * http://www.evertype.com/

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