Poetry Shelf congratulates The Ockham NZ Book Awards Long List

9780143770053.jpg  Mansfield_and_Me_final_cover__50890.1467692638.220.220.jpg    TWC_front_corrected_dimensions__88547.1470790944.140.215.jpg   Hungarians-catalogue.jpg

Woohoo happy days Sarah Laing’s graphic memoir makes a list and Victoria Press has had a boom year of quality publishing. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and to those who didn’t make the cut: it all comes down to the way a love of writing transcends and the way books endure.

That said, I am dressed in black not seeing Cilla McQueen’s In a Slant Light: a poet’s memoir here somewhere. I adored this book.

It is not easy being a judge but these lists underline what good heart our literature is in. Bravo!



  • Back with the Human Condition by Nick Ascroft (Victoria University Press)
  • Fale Aitu/Spirit House by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press)
  • Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird (Victoria University Press)
  • In the Supplementary Garden: New and Selected Poems by Diana Bridge (Cold Hub Press)
  • Thought Horses by Rachel Bush (Victoria University Press)
  • As the Verb Tenses by Lynley Edmeades (Otago University Press)
  • Fits & Starts by Andrew Johnston (Victoria University Press)
  • This Paper Boat by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press)
  • And So It Is by Vincent O’Sullivan (Victoria University Press)
  • Beside Herself by Chris Price (Auckland University Press)

Judges: Harry Ricketts, Vivienne Plumb, Steven Touissant

This is a strong list and underlines the excellent work Victoria University Press is doing as one of our key poetry presses. I have reviewed and adored virtually every one of these books on the blog. The ones that have haunted and stuck and spiked or uplifted: Tusiata, Hera, Rachel, Gregory, Chris, Diana, Lynley. Already too many for a shortlist!


FICTION (The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize)

  • The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press)
  • A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse by Brannavan Gnanalingam (Lawrence & Gibson)
  • My Mother and the Hungarians by Frankie McMillan (Canterbury University Press)
  • Love as a Stranger by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House)
  • Tail of the Taniwha by Courtney Sina Meredith (Beatnik Publishing)
  • Billy Bird by Emma Neale (Penguin Random House)
  • Deleted Scenes for Lovers by Tracey Slaughter (Victoria University Press)
  • The Name on the Door is Not Mine by CK Stead (Allen & Unwin)
  • Dad Art by Damien Wilkins (Victoria University Press)
  • Strip by Sue Wootton (Makaro Press)


Judges: Bronwyn Wylie-Gibbs, Peter Wells, Jill Rawnley (and an unnamed international judge?)

I love the diversity of style in this list and recognise what a tough and brilliant field of entries. I mourn Laurence Fearnley’s  The Quiet Spectacular but am delighted to see small fiction makes an appearance (Frankie McMillan) along with several fiction writers that can astonish with both content and craft (Catherine Chidgey, Courtney Sina Meredith, Emma Neale). Tracey Slaughter’s book hit me like no other and I think Damien Wilken’s is one of his best. I loved it. On another note, in terms of the missing, I haven’t read Fiona Kidman’s yet but it has got great reviews. This is my favourite list although I have only read six on it. Making a shortlist out of this gold cloth seems impossible let alone picking a winner.


GENERAL NON- FICTION (Royal Society of New Zealand Award for General Non-Fiction)

  • Goneville: A memoir by Nick Bollinger (Awa Press)
  • This Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art by Anthony Byrt (Auckland University Press)
  • My Father’s Island by Adam Dudding (Victoria University Press)
  • New Zealand’s Rivers: An environmental history by Catherine Knight (Canterbury University Press)
  • The Broken Decade: Prosperity, depression and recovery in New Zealand, 1928-39 by Malcolm McKinnon (Otago University Press)
  • The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books)
  • The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920 by Ben Schrader (Bridget Williams Books)
  • The World, the Flesh and the Devil; The Life and Opinions of Samuel Marsden in England and the Antipodes, 1765-1838 by Andrew Sharp (Auckland University Press)
  • Being Chinese: A New Zealander’s Story by Helene Wong (Bridget Williams Books)
  • Can You Tolerate This? By Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)


Judges: Susanna Andrew, Professor Tom Brooking, Morgan Godfrery

Delighted to see Ashleigh Young makes the cut as this is a top read – and although I haven’t read the book yet, Helene Wong’s extract at The Ladies Litera-Tea was topnotch. Have several others on my must read list (Adam Dudding, Nick Bollinger).




  • Islands: A New Zealand Journey by Bruce Ansley & Jane Ussher (Penguin Random House)
  • A History of New Zealand Women by Barbara Brookes (Bridget Williams Books)
  • A Whakapapa of Tradition: One Hundred Years of Ngati Porou Carving 1830-1930 by Ngarino Ellis with Natalie Robertson (Auckland University Press)
  • 101 Works of Art by Ken Hall, Jenny Harper, Felicity Milburn, Nathan Pohio, Lara Strongman, Peter Vangioni (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu)
  • Mansfield and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Sarah Laing (Victoria University Press)
  • New Zealand Wine; The Land, the Vines, the People by Warren Moran (Auckland University Press)
  • Futuna: Life of a Building by Gregory O’Brien (Victoria University Press)
  • A Beautiful Hesitation by Fiona Pardington (Victoria University Press)
  • Dark Matter by Ann Shelton (Auckland University Press)
  • Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press)

Judges: Paul Diamond, Linda Tyler, Bronwyn Labrum

So very glad to see the extra good Mansfield and Me here. I want this one to win. Let’s see a graphic memoir sing from the rafters. Because it is so very good. Not familiar with the other books so very biased!

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