C.K. Stead was announced as the winner of the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Prize at the Auckland Writers’ Festival on Sunday 18 May.
Stead is one of New Zealand’s most prominent writers and critics, as well as a recipient of New Zealand’s highest honour (the Order of New Zealand), and the 2009 Montana Book Award for his Collected Poems, among numerous other awards.
The iconic New Zealand poet Sam Hunt was the invited guest judge for 2014.
“Sitting in judgement on 3000 odd poems by 300 odd poets is a daunting task”, writes Hunt. “When poems of the voice and presence of Karl Stead’s – and, to varying degrees, the poems of all my ‘top lot’ -come along, those hours of reading/listening, become more than worth the while. They become a total pleasure. Stead’s poems, particularly, did just that.”
Stead accepted the award via video on Sunday, as he is currently in Europe. “One is always delighted to win a literary prize”, he says, “but this a very special one because Sarah Broom was a special person. I admired her poetry hugely and I wish I had met her personally.”
“It’s a delight and an honour. I understand that this was a strong field — so that’s reassuring at my age to be told that you are still in business.”
“I am delighted to have won, and i hope that the award continues and that it keeps, along with the poetry itself, the name of Sarah Broom alive to us all.”
The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize was established this year to celebrate the life and work of Sarah Broom (1972-2013), the author of Tigers at Awhitu and Gleam. The aim of Sarah’s husband, Michael Gleissner, was to create an award that would honour a New Zealand poet, whether established or emerging, and that would provide financial support towards writing a poetry collection.
The award of $12,000 was announced at a dedicated event at the Auckland Writers’ Festival, where shortlisted poets Emma Neale and Kirsti Whalen also read from their work.