Tag Archives: Sarah Broom Poetry Prize

Celebrating the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize winner 2018: Jane Arthur

 

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Photo credit: Kelley Eady Loveridge

It was with great pleasure I announced Jane Arthur as the winner of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018. I had not heard Jane read before, had read a few of her poems here and there, but her reading just blew my socks off. Poems have first life on the page but poems also have infectious life in the air. So I cheekily asked her to record two of the poems she had read. Jane is a poet on my poetry radar – I can’t wait to hold her first book and review it on the blog. Warm congratulations!

 

Jane’s acceptance speech:

When I found out I was shortlisted for this prize, I said to my partner, “This is the flashest thing that’s ever happened to me.” And he looked at me and at our baby and back at me, and raised his eyebrows. I mean, it’s a close call, though. Sarah Broom and Eileen Myles? This is definitely the coolest I’ve ever been.

In 2010, a year after I’d moved from Auckland to Wellington, my friend Harriet sent me a gift in the mail, with a note along the lines of “This is essential reading”. It was a copy of the newly released Tigers at Awhitu. I’ve read it a number of times since then, and Gleam, too – and they’ve meant different things to me each time. I’ve read them for pleasure, and I’ve examined their craft. Most recently was this month, and it’s the first time I’ve read them since becoming a parent – it was harder this time. But they’re so brave, and kind and clear-eyed. I’m thrilled to have my name associated with Sarah Broom.

The poems I submitted for this competition were mostly ones I wrote when I did my MA in creative writing at Vic in 2015. Since then, I’ve had a couple of jobs, moved house twice, got a second dog, launched a website, had a baby – and lost entirely my confidence in my writing. It’s always been tenuous, but I had quietly come to the realisation that I’m not a writer. Definitely not a poet. Not good enough. Not proper-writer enough. I’d stopped writing. I was embarrassed at myself for entering this competition.

Then I got a phone call. And I spent a few days feeling like I’d had too much coffee. And then I wrote a poem.

The way this competition runs means the poems are judged blind – the judge doesn’t know who wrote them, how famous or accomplished or awarded the poet is. They simply read the poems. And the judge is different each year. This is a wonderful way to even the playing field and let different tastes and styles rise to the surface. I mean, here I am. Eileen freaking Myles read my poems. 

The prize means – I can barely believe this – I join the likes of Hera Lindsay Bird, who I did a Unity Books stocktake with once, and Elizabeth Smither, who’s from NP like I am. Once it’s sunk in, this prize will seriously up my confidence and give me ammunition to fire back at my imposter syndrome, and it will help me write a book.

Thanks again to the trustees, and the judge. And to the other finalists whose work I’ve really enjoyed discovering. But mostly thanks to Grisham – you are pretty flash.

 

Two poems from Jane’s reading at the festival:

 

“To check up on the state of your heart you must lie back”

 

“Keanu is afraid (a triolet)”

 

From our conversation on Poetry Shelf:

Paula: Which poem in your selection particularly falls into place. Why?

Jane: To check up on the state of your heart you must lie back” is one of those rare poems that burst out of me in one sitting (having been rolled around my brain for a day or so) and didn’t change significantly after that. An earlier version was published in Ika and two years later only a few words have changed. I wish I knew why some poems come out easily, it’s much more efficient. I am typically the world’s most painfully slow and fussy writer … more of a deleter.

 

 

 

Jane Arthur was born in New Plymouth and lives in Wellington with her partner, baby and dogs. She has worked in the book industry for over 15 years as a bookseller and editor, and is a founder of the New Zealand children’s literature website The Sapling. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University, where her supervisor was Cliff Fell, a 2017 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize finalist. She also has a Diploma in Publishing from Whitireia Polytech and a Master’s in English Literature from Auckland University. Her poems have appeared in journals including SportTurbineIka, and Sweet Mammalian.

 

 

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Photo credit: Kelley Eady Loveridge (Michael Gleissner with Paula Green, Stuart Airey, Jane Arthur and Robyn Maree Pickens)

The Sarah Broom Prize 2018 winner ….

 

 

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Wellington poet Jane Arthur is the winner of the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018.

 

Arthur is a Wellington-based poet with a Masters in Creative Writing from IIML at Victoria University, a Whitireia Polytech Diploma in Publishing and an MA in English from the University of Auckland. She has worked as an editor and bookseller for over 15 years and co-founded The Sapling, a NZ children’s website. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals.

Stuart Airey, Wes Lee and Robyn Pickens joined Arthur as prize finalists at the Sarah Broom Poetry event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 20 May. Each read work from their prize submissions, introduced by Paula Green, who stood in for guest judge and New York poetry icon, Eileen Myers.

Myers described the quality of the entries for the prize as ‘really high’.  After whittling down the list, they said ‘there’s an incredible intimacy about sharing that moment with a group of writers you’ve never met and then hunkering down finally with a small bunch of them’.

Of Arthur, Myers said that ‘poetry’s a connection to everything which I felt in all these poets but in this final winning one the most. There’s an unperturbed confident “real” here.’

The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize was established to celebrate the life and work of Sarah Broom (1972-2013), author of Tigers at Awhitu and Gleam.  It is now in its fifth year, and we are pleased again to be working together with the Auckland Writers Festival to showcase and celebrate New Zealand poetry.

 

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize winner announced today @AWF Herald Theatre 3.15 pm

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Sarah Broom Poetry Prize Finalists 2018 will read today

 

Stuart Airey is a poet with a day job as an optometrist, which involves using the logical, scientific part of his mind. He describes poetry as “letting me explore all the other bits”.  Stuart began writing poetry a few years ago; these poems are as yet unpublished, but they have been performed in his local church. Though he has been living in Hamilton for many years now, Stuart feels an increasingly strong call from his Christchurch roots and his resonance with loss. Poems allow a part of him to look up at the Port Hills, walk along leafy Saint Albans, and gaze longlingly out at the Sumner surf.

 

Jane Arthur was born in New Plymouth and lives in Wellington with her partner, baby and dogs. She has worked in the book industry for over 15 years as a bookseller and editor, and is a founder of the New Zealand children’s literature website The Sapling. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University, where her supervisor was Cliff Fell, a 2017 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize finalist. She also has a Diploma in Publishing from Whitireia Polytech and a Master’s in English Literature from Auckland University. Her poems have appeared in journals including Sport, Turbine, Ika, and Sweet Mammalian.

 

Wes Lee is the author of Body, Remember (Eyewear Publishing, 2017), Shooting Gallery (Steele Roberts, 2016), and Cowboy Genes (Grist Books, University of Huddersfield Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2018, New Writing Scotland, The London Magazine, Landfall, Poetry LondonIrises: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Anthology 2017, and many other journals and anthologies. She has won a number of awards for her writing including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award; the Short Fiction Writing Prize (University of Plymouth Press) and the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award in Galway. Wes is currently working on her third poetry collection, By the Lapels.

 

Robyn Maree Pickens is an art writer, poet, and curator. Her critical and creative work is centred on the relationship between aesthetic practices and ecological reparation. Robyn’s poetry has appeared in the Australian eco-poetic journal Plumwood Mountain (2018), and US journals Matador Review (2017), water soup (2017), and Jacket 2 (2017). Her most recent work was exhibited at ARTSPACE, Auckland in March 2018. Robyn’s poetry criticism has appeared in Rain Taxi (2018) and Jacket 2 (2018). Currently Robyn is a PhD candidate in ecological aesthetics in the English Department at the University of Otago, and an art reviewer for the Otago Daily Times, The Pantograph Punch, and Art News.

 

Judged by Eileen Myles

The four finalists will read from their work at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on

Sunday 20 May, 3.15-4.15pm.   Herald Theatre, Aorea Centre

A conversation and poem from the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize Finalists: Robyn Maree Pickens

 

 

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Urban planning

 

Before we came to this country

there would’ve been another name

for the Spectacled Flying Fox

(an endangered bat).

 

I never understood how she could

disparage the indigenous people

yet work long nights giving out free food & bibles

(to the Aboriginal homeless & street children).

 

Some groups, she says, have taken

the rainbow as their symbol

without knowing its true meaning.

Instantly I want to cover myself with Pride tat

loll in the refracted light where the rainbow meets the mangroves

& hold my girlfriend

(the speed of coloured light).

 

After a day with her

hordes of yellow crested white cockatoos

descend cawing to roost in the crowns of brittle ribbonwoods

(their guano is killing the trees).

 

Aboriginal people were sleeping amongst the tropical vegetation

outside her hotel, she tells me. The council raked between the dense weave

collecting bedding & feces which were left to dry before removal

(the maintenance of urban planning).

 

The plaque in the hotel acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land

pays respect to the elders throughout the ages

but does not name the people, the mob, the community

(a sea-swimming turtle angles towards the milky way).

 

It is 5:30pm at the bus stop, a drunk man attempts to attack

two women. No one bats an eyelid. Outside my hotel

it is a person I discover, not a machine, breaking down, rupturing

(I remember that under blue light veins are not visible).

 

The tiny ants come into my hotel room

appearing first on the white bathroom tiles

to run over my bathroom toe & later my bedroom ear lobe

(you and I were kissing but some countries cut that out).

 

©Robyn Maree Pickens

 

 

A conversation

 

If you were to map your poetry reading history, what books would act as key co-ordinates?

Three books in particular come to mind: The Limits by Alice Miller (2014), Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (2016), Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change edited by Heidi Lynn Staples and Amy King (2017).

 

What do you want your poems to do?

I want them to do whatever they want to do, so I try not to impose on them too much.

 

Which poem in your selection particularly falls into place. Why?

Each poem responded to a specific moment or set of circumstances, but I am not sure that there is one that particularly falls into place.

 

There is no blueprint for writing poems. What might act as a poem trigger for you? 

Probably like most people it comes down to time. Either I am almost inadvertently quiet for long enough so that I can listen for a word, phrase, response, or I actively make time to write. Sometimes of course there is an event or experience that eclipses whatever else I am meant to be doing. A residency with a generous stipend would also work wonders.

 

If you were reviewing your entry poems, what three words would characterise their allure?

Ecological, political, caring.

 

You are going to read together at the Auckland Writers Festival. If you could pick a dream team of poets to read – who would we see?

Ocean Vuong, Kaveh Akbar, Alice Miller, Talia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne ō Wairau, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Takihiku), CAConrad, Lucas de Lima, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Adam Zagajewski, Emer Lyons, Hana Pera Aoake (Ngāti Raukawa, Tainui), and if I could raise the dead, Janet Frame.

 

 

Robyn Maree Pickens is an art writer, poet, and curator. Her critical and creative work is centred on the relationship between aesthetic practices and ecological reparation. Robyn’s poetry has appeared in the Australian eco-poetic journal Plumwood Mountain (2018), and U.S. journals Matador Review (2017), water soup (2017), and Jacket 2 (2017). Her most recent work was exhibited at ARTSPACE, Auckland in March 2018. Robyn’s poetry criticism has appeared in Rain Taxi (2018) and Jacket 2 (2018). Currently Robyn is a PhD candidate in ecological aesthetics in the English Department at the University of Otago, and an art reviewer for the Otago Daily Times, The Pantograph Punch, and Art News.

 

The four finalists will read from their work at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 20 May, 3.15-4.15pm in Aotea Centre’s Herald Theatre. Free event, all welcome.

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize page.

A conversation and poem from the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize Finalists: Jane Arthur

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To check up on the state of your heart you must lie back

 

with your tits out so a warm-handed stranger-

technician can run a small device across your ribs

like a barcode scanner. She seems not to see your skin,

is only concerned with looking beneath it. You want to ask her,

What is it that makes me different

from others who’ve lain here, does my heart hide deeper

in my chest, do my nipples watch you cock-eyed, disturbingly,

am I more beautiful than 50% of others or.

On a black-and-white screen there’s something grainy

and pulsing, trapped in a wedge frame

like an embryo, unheard. This is your heart, twitching.

Watching it you can’t tell what from what, all you know is

the image is moving and you are alive. What a miracle

of existence, you now understand, to have a life inside you

and you want to clutch the technician and rejoice.

Now you can hear it, too, your heart—thumping, muffled,

like listening with your ear pressed up against a wall,

the white-noise hiss of the ocean trapped behind.

But that’s not ocean, not white noise,

it’s blood noise. That’s blood pumping through your heart

to your veins. You hear it through a wall

of veins, bones, fat, flesh, skin keeping all this life inside you

like one big intricate loving dam.

 

©Jane Arthur

 

If you were to map your poetry reading history, what books would act as key co-ordinates?

Formatively, I was a music-obsessed teen, so the liner notes of the angsty ’90s: Kristin Hersh, Tori Amos, R.E.M.. Patti Smith. Before that: the poems of Leonard Cohen and Pam Ayres. More recent inspirations: Jenny Bornholdt’s Miss New Zealand; Geoff Cochrane; Kim Addonizio’s What Is This Thing Called Love; Louise Glück’s Vita Nova; random editions of Sport; A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Online poetry journals, including Sweet Mammalian, Starling, Turbine/Kapohau. The Poetry Foundation website. And most recently: essa ranapiri’s incredible Twitter thread of great NZ poems.

 

What do you want your poems to do?

I guess I want them to be intellectual exercises that end up appearing thoroughly non-intellectual. I want them to be approachable, definitely messy and imperfect, a bit funny but completely heartfelt without being gross? At least, that’s what I want them to “be”. What I want them to do is … reassure awkward readers that we’ve all been there and it’s cool, don’t worry about it.

 

Which poem in your selection particularly falls into place. Why?

“To check up on the state of your heart you must lie back” is one of those rare poems that burst out of me in one sitting (having been rolled around my brain for a day or so) and didn’t change significantly after that. An earlier version was published in Ika and two years later only a few words have changed. I wish I knew why some poems come out easily, it’s much more efficient. I am typically the world’s most painfully slow and fussy writer … more of a deleter.

 

There is no blueprint for writing poems. What might act as a poem trigger for you?

Standing in the shower. Brushing my teeth. Trying to write a different poem. Reading fiction. Going for a walk. Restless nights. Pretending to be someone else. Deadlines.

 

If you were reviewing your entry poems, what three words would characterise their allure?

Familiar, surprising, dorky

 

You are going to read together at the Auckland Writers Festival. If you could pick a dream team of poets to read – who would we see?

HRH Selina Tusitala Marsh as MC because I want her to be everywhere at all times. Some of the finest new, super-young poets like Tayi Tibble, Nina Powles and Freya Sadgrove – I’d ask the Starling eds to organize that bit. With interludes from Faith Wilson, Coco Solid, Hera Lindsay Bird, Chris Tse and Fleur Adcock. With a surprise VIP encore from Margaret Mahy during a round of whisky.

 

Jane Arthur was born in New Plymouth and lives in Wellington with her partner, baby and dogs. She has worked in the book industry for over 15 years as a bookseller and editor, and is a founder of the New Zealand children’s literature website The Sapling. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from the IIML at Victoria University, where her supervisor was Cliff Fell, a 2017 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize finalist. She also has a Diploma in Publishing from Whitireia Polytech and a Master’s in English Literature from Auckland University. Her poems have appeared in journals including SportTurbineIka, and Sweet Mammalian.

 

 

The four finalists will read from their work at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 20 May, 3.15-4.15pm. 

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize page.

 

A conversation and poem from the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize finalists: Stuart Airey

 

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Horse on the Ice

 

at first horse and rider rode easily

it was cold and bright across the ice

the frozen lake

we can’t feed you all

you’ll have to go to New Zealand

the next ride was still clear

a little mist hugged the surface

perhaps joinery carpentry building

then a little icy fog formed on the brow

some sort of motorcycle racing

a fall at night and a broken wrist

permanently numb fingers on one hand

now the rider dismounted halfway across

knelt down to get a closer look

if you peered carefully there were fine cracks

a web of spidery blue veins

a small stone bridge in the Lake District

uncle Franks boat accelerating an arc

to test the waterskier

but not last week last month last year

the horse and rider snorted steam

riding faster the crack of hooves on ice

the sure clip of memory

its web of fissures and creaking pressures

he was sure we were sure i was sure

we were all nearly quite certain

it could take the weight

 

©Stuart Airey

 

 

If you were to map your poetry reading history, what books would act as key co-ordinates?

In primary school I loved Louis Untermeyer’s Golden Treasury of Poetry especially the limericks and ‘The Highwayman’. There’s a fair bit of a lull after that until my brother passed away and then I turned a lot to The Oxford Book of English Verse – particularly Thomas Hood’s ‘The Sea of Death’. A few years back I discovered the Bloodaxe ‘Staying Alive’ trilogy which opened up a whole new world of modern poems and poets, particularly shorter ones. (Poems that is). I started writing more seriously about this time. Favourite writers would be Carol Ann Duffy, Wislawa Szymborska, Stephen Dunn and especially Alden Nowlan – a Canadian genius and earthy, accessible poet.

 

What do you want your poems to do?

I think that first of all I write for myself. I have discovered that quite often the poem is telling me something about myself that I couldn’t get to another way – a sort of self-therapy I guess. If I’m writing about an idea or a feeling it’s a way of turning it over and looking at all the edges. Sometimes it’s the poem that tells me how I’m feeling. After that though I definitely enjoy sharing (mostly) the poem with others and seeing if it touches some vital part of being human. It’s a real kick when others find layers of meaning that I was unaware of or hadn’t really intended. Some are written just to be enjoyed, a bit of a laugh or even more visceral.

A few to provoke though this rarely raises much angst.

  

Which poem in your selection particularly falls into place. Why?

I find this quite a difficult question. As none of my poems have (yet!) been published I had quite a few to select from for the competition. I have submitted to a few journals and competitions, as yet unsuccessfully, so I found it really hard to gauge which poems I should put in – actually I think I got a little cavalier with the entry. I think ‘Mercury’ fell into place as the last to be picked as it’s one of the earliest poems I wrote and got excited about. I love the word Mercury so much I’ve written several poems all with that title but the one I’ve included is the original.

 

There is no blueprint for writing poems. What might act as a poem trigger for you?

I’ve found that poems come to me in quite different ways. Usually the best or at least easiest to write is when a first line comes out of the blue, closely followed by the last line. I’m not sure exactly what the prompt in these instances is, whether a scene or a feeling or just a thought. Perhaps a glimpse into someone’s life. Then there are poems that start with an idea or a feeling I want to convey. These are a little harder to write but if the idea or feeling is quite solid they carry through and if they don’t they often morph into something else. I love it when the poem ends with so much more than it started with. I have also written a few poems to a particular theme (one was borders) – these are usually a little slower to start but once momentum kicks in they get there. There’s a lot of polishing that goes on. It’s a real high when a poem is finished.

 

If you were reviewing your entry poems, what three words would characterise their allure?

So I think you mean if I could detach myself from the poems in a sort of impartial way? In that case variety, accessibility and aftertaste.

 

You are going to read together at the Auckland Writers Festival. If you could pick a dream team of poets to read – who would we see?

Carol Ann Duffy, Paul Muldoon, Carolyn Forche, Stephen Dunn, perhaps John Burnside. Would have loved to have heard John O’Donohue live but at least we have Youtube.

 

 

 

Stuart Airey graduated in Optometry from Auckland University in 1986 and has worked in this role for over 30 years. He also has a post-graduate Diploma in Theology from Laidlaw College. He is married with three children and lives in Hamilton. Apart from dabbling in short stories in high school Stuart began writing poetry more seriously after the Christchurch earthquake which resonated with personal loss in his family. Stuart has enjoyed performing some of his poetry in a series of dedicated evenings featuring a mix of drama, audio-visual, lighting and special effects. His poems are currently unpublished and he feels he is very much on the threshold of an unknown yet inspiring path.

 

 

The four finalists will read from their work at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 20 May, 3.15-4.15pm. 

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize page.

A conversation and poem from the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize Finalists: Wes Lee

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Lifesaving

They don’t do it anymore,
breathe into the mouth to save.

We had learnt it reluctantly,
lined up beside a recumbent dummy,

waiting to take our turn to kneel at that mouth.
The simplest things disturb –

at night when the fluoros shut off and the cover is pulled,
the tiles swabbed – there it lies open,

not even a ventriloquist’s dummy
is so exposed.

 

©Wes Lee    ‘Lifesaving’ won second place in The London Magazine‘s 2015 Poetry Competition

 

 

A conversation:

 

If you were to map your poetry reading history, what books would act as key co-ordinates? 

I have always admired truth-tellers: Anne Sexton (The Awful Rowing Toward God), Raymond Carver (All of Us), Denis Johnson (The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly), Dorothea Lasky (Thunderbird), Sharon Olds (Satan Says), Rachel Wetzsteon (Sakura Park), Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), Douglas Wright (Laughing Mirror), Alice Anderson (Human Nature). To name a few.

One of my favourite poets at the moment is a Lovelock Paiute writer from Nevada, Adrian C. Louis (Ceremonies of the Damned), who blows my hair back, and makes me laugh out loud! He speaks such truths, I am in awe of him.

I also recently loved Michel Faber’s first book of poems on the subject of his late wife’s struggle with cancer: ‘Undying’. Brilliant book.

I am waiting to receive (through the mail) the Collected Poems of Jane Kenyon.

 

What do you want your poems to do?  

Sharon Olds has said that she wants her poems to do something useful. I agree with that.

I want my poems to be brave, to connect, to surprise. I want to trust my voice, to resist self-censorship; to learn something each day about my own drama, as I learn each day from other poets. A journey of surprise and discovery.

  

Which poem in your selection particularly falls into place. Why?  

I suppose a poem like: ‘Mania Come Back!’ which goes against the grain of the prevailing idea that the stable world is the desired world. It’s a poem that grinds against the flat plane of balance.

 

There is no blueprint for writing poems. What might act as a poem trigger for you? 

I read poetry every day, and often other people’s writing is a trigger. Not only poetry but articles, essays, interviews, world news, movies, etc. And of course lines come up from “nowhere” and set the thing off.

 

If you were reviewing your entry poems, what three words would characterise their allure?

Resilient.

Ordnance.

Sly.

 

You are going to read together at the Auckland Writers Festival. If you could pick a dream team of poets to read – who would we see?

 

Probably poets I would like to meet, reading from the following collections:

Julian Stannard (The Parrots of Villa Gruber Discover Lapis Lazuli)

Michel Faber (Undying)

Vicki Feaver (The Book of Blood)

Elspeth Smith (Dangerous Cakes)

John Burnside (Black Cat Bone)

Martin Figura (Whistle)

 

Wes Lee is the author of Body, Remember (Eyewear Publishing, 2017), Shooting Gallery (Steele Roberts, 2016), and Cowboy Genes (Grist Books, University of Huddersfield Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2018, New Writing Scotland, Westerly, The London Magazine, Landfall, Cordite, Poetry London, Irises: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Anthology 2017, and many other journals and anthologies. She has won a number of awards for her writing including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award; The Short FICTION Writing Prize (University of Plymouth Press); The Bronwyn Tate Memorial Award. She is currently working on her third poetry collection, By the Lapels

 

The four finalists will read from their work at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 20 May, 3.15-4.15pm. Guest judge Eileen Myles will introduce the finalists and announce the winner.

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize page.