Tag Archives: Lauris Edmond Poetry Award

Poetry Shelf connections: Frances Edmond celebrates Lauris Edmond’s birthday by reading a poem


Lauris Edmond & Frances.jpeg





Frances Edmond reads ‘Late Song’ by her mother Lauris Edmond

Night Burns with a White Fire: The Essential Lauris Edmond (Steel Roberts, 2017)





Lauris Edmond, 1924–2000, grew up in Napier, and attended Wellington Teachers’ College, Victoria University College (1942–44) and Canterbury College (1944). She completed an MA in English literature with First Class Honours at Victoria University of Wellington. She wrote poetry, novels, short stories, stage plays, autobiography and edited several books, including a selection of A. R. D. Fairburn’s ltters. She published seventeen volumes of poetry, including several anthologies, and a CD, The Poems of Lauris Edmond, which was released in 2000. Her debut collection, In Middle Air (Pegasus Press, 1975), wri tten in her early fifies, won the PEN NZ Best First Book of the Year (1975) and Selected Poems (Oxford University Press, 1984) won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1985. She received numerous awards, including the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (1981), an OBE for Services to Poetry and Literature (1986), and an Honorary DLi from Massey University (1988). Edmond was a founder of New Zealand Books. The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award was established in her name. Her daughter, Frances Edmond, and poet Sue Fitchett published Night Burns with a White Fire: The Essential Lauris Edmond (Steele Roberts), a selection of her poems, in 2017.

Today Emma Neale was announced as the 2020 winner of the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Poetry.


Frances Edmond is a writer and reviewer who works across disciplines in film, theatre and literature and is Literary Executor for her mother, poet, Lauris Edmond. Her most recent completed projects include: Night Burns with a White Fire: THE ESSENTIAL LAURIS EDMOND (with co-editor Sue Fitchett and published by Steele Roberts Aotearoa) and she is now working on a companion piece tentatively titled, Burning Substance: a Lauris Edmond Companion, which explores the origins, sources and inspiration of her mother’s writing through a daughter’s eyes. Frances was the 2018 recipient of the Shanghai Writing Residency and spent two months in Shanghai working on a new draft of her screenplay about New Zealand Missionary Nurse, Kathleen Hall, and her experiences in China. With Ken Rea who teaches at the Guildhall in London, and who was the founder of the Living Theatre Troupe (1970-76), Frances is working on a history of the Troupe based on completed oral histories that were funded with a Ministry of Culture and Heritage Oral History Award. She has also written and directed her own short film, The Apple Tree.


Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 5.27.27 PM.png










Some photos and thoughts on The Lauris Edmond Memorial Poetry Award

This award was launched by the Canterbury Poets’ Collective and The NZ Poetry Society in 2003. Five poets read in a festival slot and one poet gets the award. Originally the event was staged during the Christchurch Writers’ Festival but, after the earthquake, it moved to Wellington (with one brief return).

This year Dinah Hawken, Bob Orr, Claire Orchard, Chris Tse and Harry Ricketts read. The festival as a whole seems to short change poetry somewhat, so I welcomed the opportunity to hear this group. Ultra small venue which was full to max. Would there be an audience to fill something a little bigger?

But smallness is intimate and the readings were a treat. I was especially keen to hear Claire Orchard read as I have her debut book next on my pile to read and already have a strong relationship with the work of the other poets. I loved her reading.

The winner: Bob Orr. It feels like this award casts light on a poet who deserves a little more attention. Bob has the ability to take you to all four corners of the world and show you a vital snapshot. Something that gets to the very heart of place, of people, of experience. His poetry comes out of strong attachment to home but is wide in its reach. Wonderful!

Bob thought he had just come to read a couple of poems  so was quite surprised to get the package with a cheque.

A few years ago I was delighted to launch a collection of Bob’s at the Grey Lynn Library. It was packed to the rafters with poetry fans of all ages. So seldom do I see such a turn out. The warmth and affection for Bob and his poetry in that room was exactly why he deserved this award.