Poetry Shelf noticeboard: The 2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards longlists announced



This is a time to celebrate books published in Aotearoa over a range of categories. I offer warmest congratulations to those authors with books selected. One of my two favourite fiction books made it (Elizabeth Knox’s magnificent The Absolute Book) while the other other did not (Lawrence Patchett’s astonishing The Burning River – my review).

2019 saw a terrific array of local poetry published. I have reviewed and celebrated many of the longlist collections on Poetry Shelf – and have a review of  essa may ranapiri’s magnificent ransack appearing soon. I will also be reviewing Jane Arthur’s wonderful Craven. I selected Jane and Gregory Kan to appear in my Poetry Shelf Live session at the Wellington Writers Festival, along with 5 other poets, including USA Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Yes there are New Zealand poetry books from 2019 I have loved and celebrated on my blog that are not on the poetry longlist – but that is a good thing. How alive and vibrant and necessary our poetry communities are. The books just couldn’t all fit!

The shortlist will be announced on Wednesday, March 4 while the winners, including the four MitoQ best first book awards, are announced on Tuesday, May 12 during the 2020 Auckland Writers Festival.



Mary and Peter Biggs Awards for Poetry:

Craven by Jane Arthur (Victoria University Press)     Poetry Shelf Jane’s poem ‘Situation’

Listening In by Lynley Edmeades (Otago University Press) Poetry Shelf review

Back Before You Know by Murray Edmond (Compound Press)  Poetry Shelf review

Under Glass by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press) Poetry Shelf conversation

Moth Hour by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)   Poetry Shelf review

ransack by essa may ranapiri (Victoria University Press)   Poetry Shelf essa reads ‘Glass Breaking’

How to Live by Helen Rickerby (Auckland University Press) Poetry Shelf review plus poem ‘Mr Anderson. you heartbreaker you’

Lay Studies by Steven Toussaint (Victoria University Press)  Poetry Shelf conversation

Because a Woman’s Heart is Like a Needle at the Bottom of the Ocean by Sugar Magnolia Wilson (Auckland University Press)  Poetry Shelf conversation

How I Get Ready by Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press) Poetry Shelf conversation and poem


I am very delighted to see Wild Honey in the General Nonfiction longlist! The joy of being an author is in the writing of a book – anything else is an unexpected bonus. I am also delighted to see Mary Kisler’s wonderful Finding Frances Hodgkins here. I reviewed it!








Congratulations to all those shortlisted!  You can see more details here

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