Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The Sarah Broom Prize Finalists 2019


Jessica Le Bas.jpg  Michael Steven  Nina Headshot (32 of 72).jpg

(Nina Mingya Powles: Photo credit Sophie Davidson)


The three finalists for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2019 have been announced.

Warm congratulations to:


Jessica Le Bas’s first collection of poetry, incognito (AUP 2007), won the Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award. Her second collection, dealing with adolescent depression, Walking to Africa (AUP 2009), was a finalist in the Ashton Wylie Book Awards. She worked for the UN during the Balkan War, and later in the Beehive. In 2012 Le Bas went to Rarotonga for a year, returning again in 2017. Her current job takes her into the Pa Enua, the outer islands of the Cook Islands: Pukapuka to Mangaia, Aitutaki to Mauke. Large Ocean Islands is a growing sequence of poems arising from living in the cultural wealth and wisdom of the extraordinary people of the Cook Islands. She lives in Nikao, Rarotonga.

Nina Mingya Powles is of Pākehā and Malaysian-Chinese heritage and was born in Wellington. She is the author of field notes on a downpour (2018), Luminescent (2017) and Girls of the Drift (2014). In 2018 she was one of three winners of the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize.  She is poetry editor of The Shanghai Literary Review and founding editor of Bitter Melon苦瓜, a new poetry press. Her prose debut, a food memoir, will be published by The Emma Press in 2019.

Michael Steven was born in 1977. His poems have previously appeared in brief, IKA, Landfall, Jacket2, and Poetry NZ Yearbook. He is a graduate of the BCA programme at Manukau Institute of Technology. In 2018, Otago University Press published his first full-length poetry collection, Walking to Jutland Street, which was longlisted for Best Poetry Book in the 2019 Ockham Book Awards. He is the recipient of the 2018 Todd New Writer’s Bursary. He lives in West Auckland.


The finalists were selected from over 300 entries for this year’s prize, by the 2019 guest judge and Auckland Writers Festival guest, Anne Michaels. An award-winning poet, novelist and essay writer, Anne Michaels is Toronto’s current Poet Laureate. Her multiple awards and shortlistings include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Americas, the Orange Prize, the Governor-General’s Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Her latest poetry collection, All We Saw, was published in late 2017.


Anne Michaels will announce the winner of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2019 at a special Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Saturday 18 May, 1-2pm in the Waitākere Room, Aotea Centre. She also appears

This is a free event.


Anne also has a feature event on Friday 17th May, 10 – 11 am, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre.

The novel Fugitive Pieces is a work of art. It brought author Anne Michaels accolades, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Michaels has not rested on her laurels, however. She is currently Toronto’s Poet Laureate, and her latest collection of poems All We Saw has garnered rave reviews. Her non-fictional Infinite Gradations is a meditation on art and death. She discusses her life’s writing with Michael Williams.

Supported by Sarah Broom Poetry Trust and Canada Council for the Arts.



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