Youssef Baalouj is the guest of the Forum in the second session of the Children’s Literature Initiative: Awards are a means of gaining recognition and not an end in themselves June 13, 2020

The Qatari Forum for Authors broadcast, on Saturday evening, the second episode of the Child Literature Initiative supervised by the writer and fine artist Lina Alali. In this session, which was broadcast on the Forum’s YouTube channel, the Algerian writer Youssef Baalouj was hosted to highlight the “Children’s Literature Awards.”

Baalouj considered that the competitions and prizes are an important milestone in the life of the creative writer adding to his career and name, but the main purpose of writing remains to produce good and purposeful texts, stressing that the reality of publishing in the Arab world is governed by an unhealthy system and does not filter new names based on quality and technical standards.

This is what made him go to competitions in which he found a kind of recognition from specialized bodies and are known for their neutrality and seriousness.

He said that the outcome of these coronations is what created a certain spread of his name in the literary world, which is a starting point for a new journey in the world of writing and creativity, explaining that most of the works directed at children were seeking to address the child and not to win prizes.

In response to Ms. Lina’s question about his personal criteria for choosing the competitions in which he will participate, the Algerian writer said that the decision to participate is made based on several criteria and fundamentals, the most important of which is the organizer of the competition, which must be of a large degree of credibility and then match the terms of the competition with the text in addition to the privileges that are got by this award and its implications for his literary career, and will the work be produced as he thinks about the material value of the award, whether it is discretionary or not, and how it will be reflected on his literary career.

He talked also about his prizes, which became 9 awards from different destinations and countries, the last of which was the Qanbar Award, which he considers an important one to him due to the importance of the organizing body that has the confidence and respect of writers and thinkers in Iraq and in the Arab world in general, and he considers them to extract recognition. In a place where there is strong and fierce competition, indicating that every writer must set his personal criteria for selecting competitions, every writer has his considerations that he takes into account in order to build the decision to participate or not.

Stressing in the same context that he refused to participate in many of the competitions that he published in “The Prize” which he found not suitable for his career and ambition.

He added that each writing project has its own challenges and difficulties, whether it is a story for children or adults, a script or a play, but writing continuously overcomes the difficulties because it gives the writer experiences and supplies him with tools that enable him to be creative in writing, whether at the level of the idea or the word.

He pointed out that writing for the child in particular has a lot of difficulties, and many factors must be taken into consideration, especially given the many restrictions that require additional effort to be formulated work to suit the target group and communicate ideas in a simple and smooth way, which is what made it reduce production His attention is focused on the quality of the idea to leave a positive impact, given that the father contributes to changing the ideas of children and implants in them the principles and values that accompany them for life, so the ideas embedded in the works must be able to continue and compete with the rest of the work directed to the child.

Regarding his future projects, the guest of the Forum said that he is preparing to publish more than one work in the coming period, whether through the organizers of competitions or through publishing houses, stressing that he prefers to keep the work locked up in papers rather than publish it in an unconvincing and inappropriate way.

He also spoke about “The Prize” project, which he considered an important initiative through which he tried to introduce the various literary prizes in the Arab world, so that this initiative has become a mediating role between the writer and the organizer of the competition, expressing his hope that this project will be expanded and supported because it is a personal initiative.

At the end of the session, he gave a piece of advice to writers wishing to participate in competitions, including adherence to the conditions of the competition from the idea and general direction of the award and not to participate in the competition unless the writer finds his work eligible to participate, and called not to rush to publish books intended for the child until to be ready to be published.

In the same context, he sent a message to parents of children who participate in competitions that are directed at the child not to encourage children to cheat, and not to write in their place, and to psychologically prepare them to accept failure in the case of participation, because failure is part of the experience in life.