I’ve been a bit slow getting around to this post, and the number of things to be posting about has hit critical mass. But first, a brief pause to pay homage to Father Ted:
Almost a month late, but congratulations to John Adams, who has won the 2012 NZSA Best First Book Award for Poetry for his collection, Briefcase. And making it a related-to-poetry double, congrats also to Hamish Clayton,who has won the NZSA Best First Book Award for Fiction for his novel, Wulf, which was based on a poem very dear to Dark Feathered Art hearts, “Wulf and Edwacer”. You can read the judges’s comments here. Well done guys! I shall have to get my hands on copies of both.
Speaking about their selections for the non-debut categories, the judges have echoed something that has been discussed here before – that reducing the shortlist for the non-debut fiction and poetry categories to three rather than five finalists is doing a disservice to the awards. That:
“Having all the categories restored to five finalists would more accurately represent the quality and breadth of New Zealand’s writing … The same diversity is present in the fiction and poetry – and should be reflected in the shortlists.”
No argument from me, although I would argue that it is even more important to restore the shortlisting to the First Book Awards. I know there may be years when the standard isn’t sufficiently high to warrant a shortlist of five. But it would be nice to know who else was in the running.
Which brings me to the shortlist for the 2012 Best Poetry Collection Award:
Yay Rhian! Having read Shift, all I can say is that if she doesn’t win, the book that does will have to be mind-blowingly good. (And yes, I am going to have to get my hands on copies of those too …)
Next bit of news is to do with the Queen’s Birthday Honours. (Yes, I know: I’m gradually catching up.) You can read the full list here, but the one I’d like to draw your attention to is number nine on the list of Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit: Ms Fiona Farrell, for services to literature. This last year and a bit has seen Fiona as one of the very visible faces of the writers of the earthquake. But long before that, Fiona has been one of the people just off the main glare of the spotlight who has helped keep things ticking over in the Canterbury literary scene for as long as I can remember. She has also become one of the more audible (and eloquent) voices speaking about the growing anger here in Canterbury as the rebuild process keeps being highjacked for political points. Well done Fiona. And well deserved.
And finally, the third bit of belated news: Helen Lowe is going to have to buy a bigger mantelpiece. The Heir of Night has just won the über prestigious David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut. I know Helen is still trying to come to terms with it, because this is seriously big. And thoroughly earned too – I started rereading Heir last week (in honour of the award and to lead in to my first reading of The Gathering of the Lost, which is book two). Drat you Helen, it s just such a damn good read. Even having read it before, I had to really struggle to put it down again at night. Marital disharmony was threatened on more than one occasion, and pretty well the only way I was able to resolve the issue was to put the book down on the other side of the room when it was time to turn out the lights and get some sleep.
Things didn’t improve with the second book. For me, that is. Addictive, compelling, thought-provoking … drat you Helen! Wherever you are, stop doing whatever it is and get on with finishing Book Three NOW.
All those in favour of chaining her to her computer until it’s finished?