Well the finalists have been announced. A few surprises, and some of them even challenge my natural cynicism. The full list can be found in a number of places online, but I’ve used Beatie’s Book blog today.
This year’s panel consists of Professor Mark Williams, Jane Westaway and Margo White, with Bernadette Hall as the poetry category advisor.
For those of you who are interested in such things, the full list of conditions, requirements and criteria can be found here, but for the rest of you, this is what the judges are meant to consider:
The purpose of this award is to reward literary excellence in poetic works. The winning work will, in the opinion of the judges, be a significant addition to the literature of New Zealand.
i) Language: What does the poet do with language? Is language used in original ways to fasten the poetry in the imagination and memory?
ii) Technique: Is the poet proficient in the use of form, patterning, rhyme scheme and lineation?
iii) Originality: Does the overall aesthetic effect and appeal of the work go beyond technical proficiency? Are issues explored in real depth in nuanced tones?
iv) Integrated whole: Does the work produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts? Do the poems work together harmoniously to create a sense of unity, clarity and completeness? Are themes developed coherently?
Sounds reassuringly thorough, doesn’t it? And yet, year after year …
This year’s nominations for Best Poetry Collection are:
- Get Some, Sonja Yelich (Auckland University Press)
- The Lakes of Mars, Chris Orsman (Auckland University Press)
- The Rocky Shore, Jenny Bornholdt (Victoria University Press)
and for the Best First Poetry Collection:
- Everything Talks, Sam Sampson (Auckland University Press)
- The Propaganda Poster Girl, Amy Brown (Victoria University Press)
- The World’s Fastest Flower, Charlotte Simmonds (Victoria University Press)
Despite appearances to the contrary, these are not the only two publishers of poetry in New Zealand. Where are the entries from HeadworX, Steele Roberts, Sudden Valley, Otago University Press … ??
In the interests of being able to make an informed comment on the merits (or otherwise) of the collections, I’ve been to the library and borrowed the first three. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to digest them.