State Library of Queensland Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award shortlist

Year of the Wasp

Year of the Wasp

Joel Deane

Hunter Publishers

About the book

In 2012 poet and writer Joel Deane suffered a stroke. Suddenly he was a poet without language. Year of the Wasp tracks Deane’s journey to rediscover his poetic voice. From these deeply personal origins Deane’s third poetry collection rises to confront the realities of politics and culture, language and love in contemporary Australia. It is a journey of poetic transfiguration that produces a work of unrivalled power, emotional intensity, and insight.

About the author

Joel Deane is the author of seven books, including The Norseman’s Song, Catch and Kill: the politics of power, and Magisterium, and has written speeches for Labor politicians such as Bill Shorten, Steve Bracks, and John Brumby. He has been a finalist for the Walkley Award and the Melbourne Prize for Literature, and been shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award.

Judges' Comments

The Year of the Wasp is a searing work that etches beauty into the open heart. The experience and depth in Deane’s work illustrates that doubt and memory must co-exist in order to write poetry that wrestles with self and circumstance. This is a book that awakens the reader’s gratitude because the painful gift given to the author has been shared in the service of understanding.

Read more

Content cover

Content

Liam Ferney

Hunter Publishers

About the book

In his latest collection, Liam Ferney focuses on the deep contradictions at the heart of modern life. This is fast-paced poetry that is explosive, critical, and engaged. Ferney uses the argot of politics and the internet to tackle religion, war, love, and late capitalism. Content charts and parodies a hypertextual world, engrossed in media while passionately critical of their effects.

About the author

Liam Ferney is the author of Popular Mechanics (2004) and Boom (2013), which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. His work has been published internationally and translated into Korean and Mandarin. He lives in Brisbane.

Judges' Comments

In a post-everything world we find Liam Ferney in the present. This is his patch. He’s a master of the cultural jump cut, telling us how it is before we even ask. Content not only never slows down but continues to pick up speed even after you’ve finished reading it. Its author has been paying attention to everything and, so as not to frighten the daylights out of us, has offered what’s been gleaned with a wit and humour worthy of the best of stand-up. That’s right, you laugh – and you cry not because it’s funny.

Read more

The Hazards cover

The Hazards

Sarah Holland-Batt

UQP

About the book

Charged with fierce imagination and swift lyricism, Holland-Batt’s cosmopolitan poems reflect a predatory world rife with hazards both real and imagined. Opening with a vision of a leveret’s agonising death by myxomatosis and closing with a lover disappearing into dangerous waters, this collection careens through diverse geographical territory – from haunted post-colonial landscapes in Australia to brutal animal hierarchies in the cloud forests of Nicaragua. Engaging everywhere with questions of violence and loss, erasure and extinction, The Hazards inhabits unsettling terrain, unafraid to veer straight into turbulence.

About the author

Sarah Holland-Batt is the recipient of the WG Walker Memorial Fulbright Scholarship, Yaddo and MacDowell fellowships, and an Australia Council Literature Residency at the BR Whiting Studio in Rome, among other honours. Her first book, Aria (UQP, 2008), won a number of literary awards. She is presently a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Queensland University of Technology. The Hazards is her second collection of poetry.

Judges' Comments

The Hazards is a window that opens from no known dwelling but from another window opening that is opening from another window – ad infinitum. The poetic worlds glimpsed from it are perpetually forming and reforming themselves into kaleidoscopes of no exclusion. This is an author who knows that ‘fullness’ is what resides in each thing. Holland-Batt writes with seamless facility and craft, her language expanding and contracting inside the lungs of the imagery she produces.

Read more

Anatomy of Voice cover

Anatomy of Voice

David Musgrave

GloriaSMH Press

About the book

What is a voice? In this book-length poem, (which starts in a manner reminiscent of Beckett's Company), the isness of voice is its central preoccupation: it is considered from as many different aspects as there are parts to this multiform poem. Highly exploratory, with words sometimes rising from or inspired by selected Renaissance wood-cut engravings, Anatomy of Voice is divided into four Partitions – across which are lyricised the shiftings of the question ‘what is a voice’, and the poem's speculative and evocative answers. The book is simultaneously warmly personal and scholarly, intimate and learned, a felt meditation created as a tribute to the late Bill Maidment, a teacher whose influence on the author (as it was for many) was life-changing.

About the author

David Musgrave is a Sydney-based poet, novelist and publisher. His novel Glissando was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Award for fiction, and his collection Phantom Limb was awarded the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry. He founded the independent publishing house Puncher & Wattmann in 2005, and he currently lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle.

Judges' Comments

Anatomy of Voice is a work of intellectual devotion. It operates inside and outside of itself at the same time, in the same time. An important book neither shackled to a specific time nor confined to the places it explores but simultaneously fully ‘personally’ realized by an author of the here and now. Further, its formatting and design, as part of the ‘flesh’ of the text, evince a work of great depth and humanity – all of the senses are literally ‘in mind’ and the book as ‘body’ is vivified through words which consume and spiritualise.

Read more

Not Fox Nor Axe cover

Not Fox Nor Axe

Chloe Wilson

Hunter Publishers

About the book

Women knit at the foot of the guillotine. Hundreds of blackbirds tumble suddenly from the sky. Red Riding Hood's grandmother speaks from the belly of the wolf. Santa Lucia offers you her eyes on a platter. These poems present a panorama, by turns historical, mythical, and modern, of horrors and absurdities both familiar and obscure. 'Perhaps not fox nor axe, but something gives us chase' - and the only thing more difficult than bearing witness is turning away.

About the author

Chloe Wilson is the author of The Mermaid Problem. Her poetry has also been published in The Age, Best Australian Poems, Going Down Swinging, and Meanjin and been awarded the Gwen Harwood Prize, the John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers, the (Melbourne) Lord Mayor´s Creative Writing Award for Poetry, and the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award. She lives in Melbourne.

Judges' Comments

Chloe Wilson’s words come across at the speed of thought. Her work unfolds as surreal embroidery built around her observations and interpretations that are a welcome addition to contemporary sensibility. This is a book that demands that you ‘think’ for your own survival; it reminds us time and again that thought is what informs all questions in order that they can form themselves in readiness for an answer. If a work can be said to take nothing for granted, this one is it.

Read more