Friday, January 22, 2021

Jerry Craft's Award Acceptance Speeches

While I was retreating in place last week, I read three back issues of The Horn Book. (The most recent one just arrived a couple of days ago.) The July/August 2020 magazine was the special issue that carried acceptance speeches for last year's ALA Awards.

I am not a fan of reading speeches, something I know I've mentioned here many times. Reading the ALA acceptance speeches is not something I look forward to, though I make an attempt to at least skim some. Which is why I got hooked on Jerry Craft's acceptance speeches for the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Newbery Medal. I liked them both. Reading them also helped me work out why I have trouble appreciating other acceptance speeches.

As a general rule, I find that the ALA acceptance speeches (probably the only ones I read) include a lot of talk of agents and editors and how the speaker worked with them and things they've done together. The speeches often include the same kinds of things--talk of "how I got the call," in addition to those agents and editors. There's also an insider aspect to them that must be really meaningful to other writers and illustrators with agents who are on close terms with their editors. But it's hard for the rest of us, by which I mean, of course, me, to feel much connection to all that. 

Jerry Craft doesn't come across as a publishing insider. He writes about having breakfast with a couple of well-known writers who he thought seemed like nice people, though he didn't actually know who they were until later. At one point in his career, he had to ask Siri what the Newbery Medal was.

This is a guy who outsider speech readers can understand and relate to. If you're not a fan of reading acceptance speeches, you might want to try his, anyway.

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