Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Governor’s Writers Awards Ceremony
September 15, 1999
IN HONOR OF LITERARY EXCELLENCE
Good evening. Thanks very much, Margaret Ann Bollmeier. It’s really a pleasure to be here this evening. The habit of reading is truly one of the greatest resources of human kind and it’s my privilege to be here to honor the writers of those books that change our lives; that challenge and expand our minds.
I really want to thank the Commission for its emphasis on reading and literacy, because reading is truly the foundation for all other academic success, and how can citizens truly cope and function in our society if they are not literate?
One of my favorite parts about being Governor is getting out and about and meeting with people, but the very best part is being able to honor those Washingtonians who have really excelled.
Let me first echo Margaret Ann’s thanks to the awards jury. It’s hard work to read three hundred books, but it’s even harder to narrow that stack down to the cream of the crop. Thank you for your dedication to recognizing and rewarding literary excellence, and for doing such a fine job of it.
Writing has always presented a struggle for me. During my freshman year at Yale, I had to read a book a week and write a paper about it. I’d fill pages and pages of those yellow legal pads and end up with just a paragraph. And then I’d start all over for the next paragraph. It was excruciating labor, and I think because of my own struggles with writing, I am simply in awe of people who are able to write so well.
And now seated in front of me are the best writers in our state; the people who have captivated their readers.
You know, I once had a conference with an instructor who listened while I tried to explain a piece I had written. She listened to me. Then she sat back and said, “Yes, but did you take a blood-filled leap towards anything?”
I didn’t know what to say.
Writers are the members of our community who are brave enough to take those blood-filled leaps; the ones who are willing to fuse emotion and idea in the brain and come up with a meaning to hand to the rest of us. And writers tie us to the human condition more than any other professionals.
Tennessee Williams once wrote, “If the writing is honest, it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. It isn’t so much his mirror as it is the distillation, the essence, of what is strongest and purest in his nature.”
That can’t be an easy job. . .to distill one’s essence and then hand it over to strangers and readers. So I admire your bravery. Thank you, winners, for taking that blood-filled leap and throwing yourselves into your work in order to enrich the lives of your readers.
So now without further ado, let’s meet and honor the recipients of the 1999 Governor’s Writers Award!