Of his work, Via Negativa, The Divine Dark, the 2011 judges (Brook Emery, Bronwyn Lee and Judith Beveridge) said, "This is a powerful, visually striking, intelligent poem which explores complex ideas associated with negative theology in a humble but resonant way. The poem beautifully manages the movement between the immediacy of the present and difficult concepts such as time, suffering and the existence and nature of the soul; between the trivial ordinariness of the world and the large abstractions; between what can be knowable and precisely observed and what remains unknowable and concealed."
Highly Commended mentions went to Verity Laughton for her work The Fox Man and Todd Turner forFieldwork. The judge's reports are below.
The Fox Man
The Fox Man is a rich and powerful poem in terms of both its language and its issues. It uses the discovery of the body of Lovernius in a peat bog to investigate the nature of ritual sacrifice from the point of view of ‘they’, ‘you’, Lovernius, and the pagan gods. There is a controlled movement between the shocking mechanics of the sacrifice expressed in compressed visceral images, the more contemplative reflections on the meaning of the sacrifice, and an imagining of the aftermath of the sacrifice in which the language, surprisingly but convincingly, becomes sensuous and loving.
Fieldwork is both an unassuming narrative of an event and of a mind thinking. It wonders about the cycle of birth and death, about the meaning and purpose (or purposelessness) of life, about the incarnate and the transcendent, about evolution and the spirit. It works towards a conclusion which in itself is a question with only an implied answer. The poem is impressive for its understated craft, its precise observation of nature, the rich inventiveness of its colloquial language, and the evocativeness of its sensual imagery.