The finalists in the 2021 Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry are:
Funkhaus by Hinemoana Baker (Victoria University Press)
Magnolia 木蘭by Nina Mingya Powles (Seraph Press)
National Anthem by Mohamed Hassan (Dead Bird Books)
The Savage Coloniser Book by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press)
Full shortlist and judges’ comments here.
“Poetry collections published in Aotearoa in 2020 show a wealth of exceptional and original work. It’s an exciting situation for New Zealand poetry. The four shortlisted collections are striking, all exhibiting an acute global consciousness in difficult times,” says Poetry category convenor of judges Dr Briar Wood.
I was so excited about the poetry longlist, I spent the last few months celebrating each poet on the blog. What sublime books – I knew I would have a flood of sad glad feelings this morning (more than on other occasions) because books that I have adored were always going to miss out. I simply adored the longlist. So I am sending a big poetry toast to the six that didn’t make it – your books will have life beyond awards.
I am also sending a big poetry toast to the four finalists: your books have touched me deeply. Each collection comes from the heart, from your personal experience, from your imaginings and your reckonings, from your musical fluencies. The Poetry Shelf reviews are testimony to my profound engagement with your poems and how they have stuck with me.
Over the next weeks I am posting features on the poets: first up, later this morning, Tusiata Avia.
Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM are long-time arts advocates and patrons – particularly of literature, theatre and music. They have funded the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters since 2006, along with the Alex Scobie Research Prize in Classical Studies, Latin and Greek. They have been consistent supporters of the International Festival of the Arts, the Auckland Writers Festival, Wellington’s Circa Theatre, the New Zealand Arts Foundation, Featherston Booktown, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly the New Zealand Book Council), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Featherston Sculpture Trust and the Kokomai Arts Festival in the Wairarapa. Peter was Chair of Creative New Zealand from 1999 to 2006. He led the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce in 2010 and the New Zealand Professional Orchestra Sector Review in 2012. Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for arts governance and philanthropy in 2013.