Monday, September 14, 2009
CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry: Winner & Shortlist 2009
Judges: Claire Gaskin (convenor), Justin Clemens and Lisa Gorton
It was great to see such a large number of entries from Australian presses, reflecting the range and strength of our national poetry scene, the irrepressibility of poetry. We were excited by several new poets, such as Andrew Slattery with Canyon, and also by some striking collections from established poets, such as Anthony Lawrence's Bark and Pam Brown's True Thoughts. This award is for a substantial body of new work: the books on the shortlist distinguished themselves by their craft and commitment, and because they held together as collections.
The winner of the CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry is:
* The Golden Bird
Robert Adamson (Black Inc)
The Golden Bird - WINNER
The new work in this collection shows remarkable craftsmanship. From the very beginning of the sequence, one knows one is in capable hands; Adamson never strikes a bum note. The poems are spare and fantastical, where strange birds fly from savage nature into the world of history and politics. Adamson creates a taut vernacular with an element of song, which pulses throughout the poems.
Fishing in the Devonian
(Puncher and Wattman)
Fishing in the Devonian draws on astrophysics, palaeontology and suburban Australian life. Driving the idea of 'nature poetry' beyond its usual limits, Jenkins creates a stunning sequence of poems with an extraordinary power of defamiliarisation. From extinct species of fish to extinct species of fridge, Jenkins' wit and imagination is evident throughout.
The Other Way Out
Lea works and reworks traditional forms, bringing individuality and edginess, wit and longing to her verse. The poems are lucid yet surprising, consistent and seductive. The directness of Lea's voice balances intimacy with restrained technical experimentation. Wide-ranging in her allusions, Lea writes as well about love as about art, setting up dialogues between other writers, thinkers and her own life.