My thoughts: 2016 Ockham NZ Book Award Poetry short list

Congratulations to all those who make the short lists! Especially in a year that was larger than a year.

Here is the short list for poetry, see below for other categories.

How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)
The Night We Ate the Baby, by Tim Upperton (Haunui Press)
Song of the Ghost in the Machine, by Roger Horrocks (Victoria University Press)
The Conch Trumpet, by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)
Would this be my list? No! But that doesn’t mean a thing. Book Awards will always reflect the predilections of the judges. And there are some strong collections here that I have reviewed and loved. Great to see Chris’s debut collection make the cut.
Good to see a small press make it along with the big presses who continue to show an admiral devotion to poetry.
Whom do I mourn? Emma Neale’s extraordinary collection, Tender Machines. Ahh!
I haven’t read many of the novels that made it but how I adored Anna Smaill’s The Chimes that did not. Sorry to be a party pooper on that one.
And how good to see Fiona Farrell and Lynn Jenner make the non-fiction list. I reviewed both those books on the blog and thought they were standout examples of how we can write about the world, catastrophe, home.
Fiction plus poetry equals one woman out of eight.  No women poets. Does this mean the men wrote all the best books in the past year? No way!
Is NZ literature in fine heart? Utterly yes. Astonishing books missed the long lists in both poetry and fiction. We are publishing such quality writing it makes judging almost impossible for Book Award Judges.
For those that missed out, good books have a life beyond book awards. Astonishing books are bigger than book awards. Remember that.
For those that have been picked, enjoy the well-deserved moment, then let the white noise settle and get on with what really matters. Writing.
The 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalists are: 
The Back of His Head, by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press)
Chappy, by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House)
Coming Rain, by Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing)
The Invisible Mile, by David Coventry (Victoria University Press)
How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)
The Night We Ate the Baby, by Tim Upperton (Haunui Press)
Song of the Ghost in the Machine, by Roger Horrocks (Victoria University Press)
The Conch Trumpet, by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)
General Non-Fiction
Maurice Gee: Life and Work, by Rachel Barrowman (Victoria University Press)
The Villa at the Edge of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City, by Fiona Farrell (Penguin Random House)
Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood, by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House)
Lost and Gone Away, by Lynn Jenner (Auckland University Press)
Illustrated Non-Fiction
Te Ara Puoro: A Journey into the World of Māori Music, by Richard Nunns (Potton and Burton)
New Zealand Photography Collected, by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)
Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris (Bridget Williams Books)
Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s, by Bronwyn Labrum (Te Papa Press)
The Fiction category is judged by distinguished writer Owen Marshall CNZM, Wellington bookseller and reviewer Tilly Lloyd, and former Director of the Auckland Writers Festival and former Creative New Zealand senior literature adviser Jill Rawnsley.
The Poetry Prize is judged by former Auckland University Press publisher Elizabeth Caffin MNZM, Dr Paul Millar, of the University of Canterbury, and poet and University of Auckland academic Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh.
The General Non-Fiction Prize is judged by Metro Editor-At-Large Simon Wilson, Professor Lydia Wevers, literary historian, critic and director of the Stout Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr Jarrod Gilbert, a former Book Awards winner for Patched: A History of Gangs in New Zealand, of the University of Canterbury.
The Illustrated Non-Fiction Prize is judged by former publisher Jane Connor, publisher of the magisterial The Trees of New Zealand, which won the Book of the Year award in 2012, Associate Professor Linda Tyler, Director of the Centre for Art Studies at The University of Auckland, and Leonie Hayden, the editor of Mana magazine.
The winners (including of the four Best First Book Awards) will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday May 10 2016, held as the opening night event of the Auckland Writers Festival. The awards ceremony is open to the public for the first time. Tickets to the event can be purchased via Ticketmaster once festival bookings open on Friday 18 March.

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