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

Euclid's Dog

Euclid's Dog

Jordie Albiston

GloriaSMH Press

About the book

Beginning with the idea of poetry as one code among many, this collection explores the notion of applying patterns derived from mathematics to the conception and creation of poems.  There is a peculiar sort of energy that emanates from an active confluence between two codes: a beat frequency, a moiré.  It is at once a kind of friction, and a marriage. This is not a book of high mathematics: rather, an attempt to migrate some of the innate robustness, clarity and elegance of Euclidean thought into the realm of poetic structure. Albiston's formal experiments do not function as mere theory, dry equations or games, but authentic poetic events, at the same time harmoniously familiar, and strange.

About the author

Jordie Albiston has published ten poetry collections and a handbook on poetic form. Albiston possesses an ongoing preoccupation with mathematical constructs and constraints, and the possibilities offered in terms of poetic structure.  Her work has won many awards, including the Mary Gilmore Award and the 2010 NSW Premier's Prize.  She lives in Melbourne.

Judges' Comments

Euclid’s Dog builds itself out of systematic forms that play with an architectural lustre. Albiston’s language exploits whatever is to hand: part conundrum, part memory, part illusion of the self. Acutely constrained by resolute roots and rules, the poems are nonetheless invigorated by an improvised sensibility that shatters white light into a world of colour.

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Meteorites cover

Meteorites

Carmen Leigh Keates

Whitmore Press

About the book

In this much-awaited first collection, Carmen Leigh Keates draws on her experiences of cinema and of travelling to regions in Scandinavia associated with iconic films – among them, Bergman's remote Swedish island of Fårö, and the Estonian capital Tallinn, where Tarkovsky filmed his science fiction masterpiece Stalker. In these poems, geographical, dream and film worlds collide with brilliant results, taking the reader on unexpected and unpredictable voyages.

About the author

Carmen Leigh Keates received her PhD from UQ and her poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems. Carmen was the winner of the 2015 Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize, leading to the publication of her critically praised first collection, Meteorites. Carmen has received support from Arts QLD and the Australia Council for the Arts.

Judges' Comments

The poems in Meteorites read like postcards from a Northern European sensibility to an Antipodean self. Haunted by the spectre of Tarkovsky, Keates’ poems develop and daze like the films they so achingly describe. Soaked in silence, wry observation and philosophical shifts, the poems splice in unexpected ways to produce a most rewarding debut collection.

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Fragments cover

Fragments

Antigone Kefala

Giramondo

About the book

Known for the intensity of her vision and her minimalism, Antigone Kefala has published only a small number of poems, each carefully worked, each magical or menacing in its effects. One of the finest Australian poets, Fragments is her first poetry collection in almost twenty years. Her skill in capturing the moment is evident in this collection, with its linguistic precision, its heightened perception and sense of drama – though the territory is often darker as the poet navigates the liminal spaces between life and death, and the energies which lie in wait there.

About the author

Antigone Kefala has written four works of fiction, including The First Journey, The Island and Summer Visit, and four poetry collections, The Alien, Thirsty Weather, European Notebook and Absence: New and Selected Poems, as well as the non-fiction work Sydney Journals. Born in Romania of Greek parents, she lived in Greece and New Zealand before coming to Australia.

Judges' Comments

Kefala’s poems enact the beauty of a reserved economy of story-telling. The ascetic concentration of fragments collected across a lifetime transcends the ordinary and enlarges gesture into ritual. The elegiac tone of the collection derives from a wider vision of human life: separated from sureties, people are vulnerable yet live their days under the continuity of a larger universe. This is a mature poet at her best.

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The Blue decodes cover

The Blue Decodes

Cassie Lewis

Grand Parade Poets

About the book

After two decades-plus of quiet yet pointed observations in both Australia and the United States, The Blue Decodes is poetry by a woman speaking for herself and just as importantly about her generation, a generation whose ambitions and emotions have become very fractured and fragmented. Yet, as Cassie Lewis advises throughout her work, all that optimistic blue we once saw beckoning can be regained, decoded if you will, that we may become our original, authentic selves.

About the author

Cassie Lewis is a poet currently living in upstate New York. Her poems have been widely published and anthologised in Australia and, more recently, in the United States.  She is the author of The Blue Decodes (Grand Parade Poets, 2016).

Judges' Comments

The Blue Decodes is a quietly startling collection of poems harvested in two hemispheres. Lewis assiduously sifts through memory to test ideas against experience. The mood is inspired, ardent and searching, keen to strike ore. Her recollecting mind is a kind of bell, awakening us to nothing but our forgotten selves.

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These Wild Houses cover

These Wild Houses

Omar Sakr

Cordite Books

About the book

These Wild Houses is an autobiographical collection of poems exploring place, race, and sexuality through the prism of the poet’s body, as well as his upbringing in Western Sydney. While an undoubtedly intimate and personal book concerned with the makings of a queer Muslim Arab boy, there is also greater depth on display with poems that tackle gendered violence, national politics, and ‘the ugliness that stitches flags together’. Sakr takes an unflinching look at his life here and the pain that has marked it while also reflecting on society at large in this powerful, haunting debut.

About the author

Omar Sakr is an Arab Australian poet whose work has been published in English, Arabic, and Spanish. Omar placed runner-up in the Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the ACU Poetry Prize, and Fair Australia Poetry Prize. His debut collection These Wild Houses is out now.

Judges' Comments

These Wild Houses is a collection that focuses the complexity of a multifaceted individual, who in turn permeates his being into the wider societal complexity in which he lives. Sakr permits us to mine his personal store of images as they arise, like the phoenix, out of suburban conflict. The poetry, politics and history scorch a new path in Australian poetry.

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