Tag Archives: Sarah Broom

The Sarah Broom Poetry Award finalists: an interview, some poems

Sarah-prize2.png

 

This world is only ever

water, rock and black air.

It cannot accommodate us;

we cannot, will not complain

when the water deafens and knocks us.

We shut our eyes

and meet its volleyed blackness.

 

©Sarah Broom, from ‘Caving,’  in Tigers at Awhitu (Auckland University Press, 2010)

 

 

 

 

The Sarah Broom Poetry Award supports New Zealand writers through an annual poetry competition. The finalists are invited to read their work at an Auckland Writers Festival event and the winner gets a substantial cash prize. This award matters not only because it offers a financial reprieve for a poet, but because it showcases our poetry. We are an eclectic bunch writing in diverse ways with diverse preoccupations within diverse communities. The award also returns me to Sarah’s poetry; an annual pilgrimage for which I am grateful. Her work continues to resonate on a personal level and along the fertile line, ever revealing, ever fresh and vital. I applaud Michael Gleissner and Sarah Ross for all the hard, behind-the scenes the work they undertake to make this award happen. Thank you.

This year’s judge is Carol Ann Duffy who will also appear at the Auckland Writers Festival.

The finalists: Sandi King, Cliff Fell, Hera Lindsay Bird

 

 

The Poems

 

 

Where the World Looks In

 

It’s true that everything’s always moving:

The way a sunbeam glances off the corner of the fridge

Or the shadows turn from violet to indigo.

 

Or the way your voice will slip a semi-tone

When you’re talking on the phone

And you think someone else is listening.

 

So I’ll wait for you under the first arch of the bridge

Where the river longs to persist,

To abide beyond its turbulence and flow

And all the other laws that words will not obey.

 

And I want the words to say

Something else again

Or just to be there when the river is blessed

Like a mirror where the world looks in.

 

© Cliff Fell

 

 

 

The Way Home

 

Flamboyant: noun

  1. The condition of being flamboyant
  2. A group of flamingos

http://www.yourdictionary.com/flamboyance

 

 

The lush wetland

of my unconscious mind is squawking

in the same way I formed thoughts

before I was old enough to know words.

Just out of sight I hear

wildlife, and the shore

bright with the colours of sunset

discarded in the morning

grass.

 

I reach through the wire fence

and grasp the legacy left to me,

orange/pink

and fragile. Thousands

of flamingo feathers

 

which I scoop secretly into a bag

and carry back to the motel

to admire the fluffy whiteness

of the tiniest feathers. I lay

the long ones in a row

to assess

their intensity of pigment,

their readiness for flight.

 

Sometimes I dream that my body

is wrapped in a bolt of organza.

It’s orange/pink,

a hood-to-ankle garment.

In the mirror, behind my reflection

I can see the Manawatu Estuary

coloured in with my childhood

dreams. I lift primary flight feathers

to the sky, soar

over road and cars and houses

all the way back to Nana and Grandad’s lawn.

 

In Nana’s flowerbed I find

two ornamental flamingos, pink

so pink. She bends as if to feed

from the shallows, he waits

fondly beside her.

They are translating the garden

into bird

of paradise.

 

I shelter with these two as long as I can hold

then wade on home, finally

orange/pink,

into the flamboyance of flamingos.

 

© Sandi King

 

 

 

 

The Questions

 

 

The Sarah Broom Poetry Award is a terrific supporter of New Zealand poets and poetry. Can you name a New Zealand poetry book that has resonated with you in the past few years. What do you love about it?

 

Sandi: Bill Nelson’s collection Memorandum of Understanding is stuffed with the kind of poetry I love to read. There is variety in the content that sparks my imagination. Some of the poems have an ambiguity, but of a giving nature. If the poem could talk to the reader it might say ‘I have more. Come back tomorrow and read me again.’  His clutch of poems titled ’How to do just about anything’ feature a liberal use of the second person that I enjoy.

Cliff: There are quite a few, but I particularly admired Dinah Hawken’s Ocean and Stone and recently enjoyed reading Hannah Mettner’s Fully Clothed and So Forgetful. But the book that resonated most with me in recent years is Rachel Bush’s Thought Horses, published shortly after she died in March 2016. It’s not only that she lived in Nelson and that I’d read some of the poems as they came into being, but the way the collection finds her – particularly in poems I hadn’t seen before – facing her death with such fortitude, wit and wisdom. Rachel has always had this wonderfully elastic syntax, and a giddy playfulness to the way she can shift focus in a poem. All of that is heightened in this collection. It’s a book that’s marvellously re-readable. I discover little gems I hadn’t noticed before, nuances and images, every time I enter its lost domain, its domain of loss.

Hera: I try not to talk about why I like certain books because I always end up lying by accident, but I always like reading Geoff Cochrane. Can everyone just take my word for it? It’s better this way.

 

 

What are some of the strengths or weaknesses of New Zealand poetry and its communities?

 

Sandi: I have found a lot of generosity. Writing groups meet together to nuture each other, and develop their work into the best it can be. We have organisers like Bill Sutton who organise events where poets can come together and hear each other. We have poetry competitions which offer hope to everyone who enters. There are still opportunities to be published thanks to the commitment of small publishers, plus a variety of journals and websites, and there are excellent educational opportunities available. New Zealand has talented mentors too – I have been extremely fortunate to be mentored by Renée.

Cliff: There’s so much going on in New Zealand poetry, you would have to be very dedicated to keep up with it all. Its strengths are its poets, of course. They’re probably its weaknesses, too. But I’d imagine that New Zealand poetry is generally thriving, gaining greater recognition overseas. Cheers to all responsible for that! As for its communities, apart from the point that individuals can create their own community, their following, these days, I’ve had a notion for a while that in the arts, in poetry in particular, in its real nose-to-the-grindstone communities, New Zealand resembles the city-states of late medieval, Renaissance Italy, with their arts flowering in different styles. There are similar alliances and rivalries and moments of cross-pollination, as there were then, and distinct local sounds or voices or concerns are beginning to develop, the way the Dunedin sound developed in music. The rivalries in poetry have been going on for generations, as we all know. All of this is, obviously, down to our demographics – relatively small population – and our geography, our topography, in that it means journeying between centres is bound to be epic, on some level. Who would the Papal State be in such an analogy? CNZ, I suppose, with the patronage it confers. Of course, this is a notion – and in some ways a ridiculous one – that I would favour, indulge in, due to my interests. Also, I’m an outsider, so that probably colours the way I see things. But I think there’s a kernel of truth to it. We may not exactly have to learn the taste of other people’s bread, but it’s not a bad trope for how things are.

 

Hera:

 

con: poor overall fighting technique, weak in physical combat department

pro: lots of wine

con: nobody to talk to at parties about Survivor

pro: except Louise Wallace and Holly Hunter

con: small population size leading to difficulty maintaining rigorous critical culture, ancient confusing unexplained feuds going back decades, lack of money, too many poems about mountains, easily hurt feelings

pro: if people hate you they have the decency to do it in private, to their friends and loved ones

con: James K Baxter

pro: oh relax, I’m only joking

 

 

 

Do you see your shortlisted collection as a surprising departure from your previous poetry, a continuation and deepening engagement with your poetic concerns, or something altogether different?

 

Sandi: To be honest, I was excited by the opportunity to have my work read by Carol Ann Duffy and looked through everything I have written for poems I thought she might like to read.

Cliff: More a continuation probably, though I’m not sure – and either way, hopefully some kind of a deepening engagement. To be honest I was amazed that my entry came together at all, as I hadn’t really been writing for a while. I wrote two new poems on the deadline day and heavily revised four others. When I looked at the collection again, on learning that I’d been shortlisted, one thing that did surprise me was to discover that three of the poems were ekphrastic in nature. How that came about, I really don’t know.

Hera: Some are following on from my first book, others are a little looser. I’m trying as hard as possible not to think about it while I write. The phrase poetic concerns is such a great one. It always makes me think of Byron having trouble with his swans.

 


I am putting you on the spot here, but if you were reviewing your collection, what three words would characterise its allure?  

 

Sandi: Sensual, adventurous, satisfying

Cliff: Yes, horribly on the spot, as I would hate to review my own collection. It would be a public self-mauling that no one would want to witness. Flawed. Flibbertigibbet. Fatal. Will they do? Oh, and Astronomy. That’s four words, but there are plenty of stones and stars, and also caves, in my poems. Too many probably.

Hera: Silly, unsettling, imagistic

 

 

When you write a poem, what talismans or cornerstones or spark plugs or jump leads or release pads do you favour? I am thinking, for example, of the way some poets are drawn to musicality, storytelling or the element of surprise.

 

Sandi: Many of my poems are portrait poems or persona poems. The beginning of a poem can sometimes be the sound of the character’s voice, and trying to thread that into the poem

so that maybe the reader can imagine the character speak when she reads the poem. Often a segment of story develops from the portrait as I write. Otherwise a poem will begin from a little stub – something I have seen, heard or felt. When I discover a stub, I write it down. Months later, I’ll look at that stub again, and sometimes it will be the start of a poem. It’s like taking cuttings from people’s gardens – you achieve variety without having to try too hard for it.

 

Cliff: Yes, I certainly believe in talismans and little rituals. I once knew a builder in Scotland who wouldn’t go up on a roof without a kilt pin in his trouser pocket. It’s easy enough to understand why, when you think about it. In my case, well, first up I consume a quantity of petrol. That’s for the spark plugs. Then I get into some kind of trance-like fire-eating routine, blowing flames around the room, hoping the poem and all my electric guitars will spontaneously combust. Or I imagine I’m being carried in a coffin into what has been billed on the invitation as an ‘outrageous’ party. This is in fact a gate-crasher’s ploy, as the hosts have notably declined to invite me. I only learned about this exclusive mother of all parties when I saw an invitation a so-called friend taunted me with. So when the night-watchmen I’ve hired as coffin-bearers carry me through the door, we thump into the hubbub, noise of glasses being smashed, voices, music, people banging on the lid and so on. I think they must have set me down in the middle of the dance floor, because when I emerge, naked as the day I was born, there she is, Topsie-Terpsichore, spinning and pirouetting and doing the scorpion in my arms. And we dance all night. Maybe it’s West Coast swing, on the track to begin with, but then it gets crazy, circle dancing around the coffin, big bass lines pumping out of the PA and deep into your rib-cage, and a frenzy of many arms and legs. Later, there will be sweaty, abandoned sex on the grassy shores of a lake. Moonlight and embarrassment, of course.  A boat, though perhaps it’s just the coffin floating away. I seem to remember there was a high wire-mesh fence we had to clamber over. Stuff like that. It all helps.

 

Hera: Everything at once. I like poetry pushed to its stylistic limits. For instance, take a poem about a swan in the moonlight. That might be a good poem. But what if…… instead of one swan you had a thousand swans? And what if instead of moonlight……the moon had never existed & instead there was a giant neon exit sign, hanging in the sky? I’m just being indirect because I don’t want to write a manifesto too early. I think one of the tasks of poetry is to teach yourself to write as many different ways as possible, and then to trick yourself into never thinking about them in the moment. Like mixed martial arts, if people used mixed martial arts to express their feelings about autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

The Finalists

 

 

Hera Lindsay Bird is a poet from Wellington. Her debut self-titled collection Hera Lindsay Bird was published in 2016 with Victoria University Press; it has been reprinted many times, and is currently on the shortlist for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She has an MA in poetry from the International Institute of Modern Letters where she won the 2011 Adam Prize in Creative Writing. She works as a bookseller at Unity Books Wellington.

Bird’s work has been featured in The Guardian and Vice Magazine. She has been published in a number of journals and publications including Best New Zealand Poems, The Spinoff, The Listener, The Hairpin, Hue & Cry and Sport. In 2016 she ran a free, ten-week creative nonfiction class called TMI. She likes watching the figure skating at the winter Olympics and murder mysteries set on trains.

 

 

Cliff Fell is the author of three books of poems, The Good Husbandwoman’s Alphabet (illustrated by Fiona Johnstone, Last Leaf Press, 2014), Beauty of the Badlands (Victoria University Press, 2008) and The Adulterer’s Bible (Victoria University Press, 2003). The Adulterer’s Bible was awarded the 2002 Adam Prize in Creative Writing and the 2004 Jessie Mackay Prize for Best First Book of Poetry. Other poems have appeared in the online anthology Best New Zealand Poems and in various New Zealand and overseas publications. He has been a regular contributor to the RNZ National Nights programme, talking about poetry.

Born in London to an English mother and New Zealand father, he has lived in New Zealand since 1997 and worked, sometimes very briefly – and tenuously – as a roadie, musician, bank clerk, bar-tender and also in farming, forestry, and film-making. He studied History and Archaeology at Exeter University, received an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and currently lives in the Motueka river catchment. He is a tutor of creative writing in the Arts programme at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

 

 

Sandi King (previously known as Sandi Sartorelli) is a New Zealander of English, Irish, Danish and Moravian descent. She currently lives in the Hutt Valley with her youngest son Guy. She has a degree in Creative Writing from Whitireia New Zealand. Her work has been published in a number of journals and websites including 4th Floor, Blackmail Press, JAAM, Renée’s Wednesday Busk, Snorkel and takahē.

In 2013 three of King’s poems were highly commended in the Caselberg Trust Prize, the New Zealand Poetry Society Competition and takahē Poetry Competition. In 2015 her poem ‘Timing’ took first place in the Upper Hutt Poetry Competition. The most recent publication to include her work is the book Poetical Bridges/Poduri Lirice (2017), a collection of New Zealand poetry translated into Romanian, and Romanian poetry translated into English, created by Valentina Teclici.

 

 

Hera Lindsay Bird, Cliff Fell, and Sandi King will read poems from their submissions at the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday 21 May 4.30-5.30pm.

This is a free event. Guest judge Carol Ann Duffy will introduce the finalists and announce the winner of this year’s prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf The Summer Season: Poets pick poems – Simone Kaho picks Sarah Broom

 

Rain

She’s been lying
on the jetty for weeks,
cheek flat on the wet
wood, mouth an inch
from a fishgut stain
knife at her elbow.

The rain just keeps
coming down.

She’s as naked
as a shucked scallop,
raw and white
on the splintered planks.

Her breath is as slight
as the sea’s sway

Up there in the bush
all the trees lean down
and inwards, longing
for the creek
which longs
for the sea.

And the grey ocean
nuzzles the sand,
its waves as gentle
as tiny licks of kisses,
their small collapse
an everytime surrender.

Don’t touch her.
Let it rain.
Let it rain.

 

©Sarah Broom, Tigers at Awhitui  Auckland University Press, 2010.

 

 

I find this a terrifying poem, I feel it offers me hopelessness and acceptance intermingled.  There is spiritual movement away from a body before the body is dead, an exquisitely rendered vulnerability, a painfully sensual strength.

The poem opens on a woman who has been lying on a jetty ‘for weeks’; stopped in the middle of gutting fish, to drop her knife and be still, her mouth close to the fouled wood, which has not been cleansed by the continuous rain.

Some violence has been done on her, she is naked, shucked from her clothes, her position of power – she is as a scallop, an image both sensual and visceral. She has swapped places with the sealife – someone/thing else now holds the knife.

The image of the scallop caught me, an icon of fine dining. It’s tender vulnerability is its delectability; I see the taut white quiver of her on the splintered wood.

In the next line we learn she is still alive, breathing, aware. Unable, then, to move – or unwilling. Is she being punished – is she being defiant?

The likening of her breath to the sea’s slight sway is a dizzying; she is at once barely alive, and conversely, a goddess; inexorable and elemental.

We move up and away into the bush with the curved yearning trees, and the sustaining creek – all longing for the sea, which is far away, with this woman.

The sea in the sixth stanza is like an animal or a lover:

‘its waves as gentle
as tiny licks or kisses,
their small collapse
an everytime surrender.’

This verse holds all the tension of lovemaking.  The woman on the jetty is soothed by the sea, it surrounds her, supporting her breath – the elements are the only things that can reach her now.

This is confirmed for us in the next line where for the first time we are given instructions:

‘Don’t touch her.
Let it rain.
Let it rain.’

We are powerless like her. We must not touch her, we must allow nature.

I think of the rain. How we rush to be out of it because of its wetness and coldness. How I knew my cats were ready to die when they didn’t move out of the rain. Here, it replaces human touch, releasing, relentless.

This poem is spare; precisely descriptive and rhythmic. Small sways of lines like shallow breathing. It presents us injury, danger and paralysis – a helpless naked female, who has not lost her allure despite her diminishment, and her vulnerability – yet prevents us from helping or even empathising. Rather asks us to bear witness to her passage. Her transcendence into an elemental rhythm which we cannot take part in.

I feel this poem has helped me understand my father’s death from cancer more, and given me a glimpse into a pain beyond anything I have experienced or imagined.

Simone Kaho

 

Simone Kaho is an Auckland performance poet and a graduate of the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington. Lucky Punch, Simone’s first book, was launched November 2016. It bridges poetry and memoir as the narrator comes of age in New Zealand’s rich and confusing intersection of pacific and colonial culture. Simone has been interviewed on TV by Tagata Pasifika and will be featured in an upcoming Landfall.

 

The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize is now open for entries, closing March 2nd. Details here.

 

 

 

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize – Entries now open

SARAH BROOM POETRY PRIZE

The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize is New Zealand’s most valuable poetry prize and aims to recognise and financially support new work from an emerging or established New Zealand poet through a $10,000 award.

The prize was established in 2013 in honour of the New Zealand poet Sarah Broom (1972-2013), the author of Tigers at Awhitu (2010) and Gleam (2013).

Entries open on 6 February and close on 2 March 2017

The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize is now in its fourth year, and we are pleased again to be working together with the Auckland Writers Festival to showcase and celebrate New Zealand poetry. The prize will be announced at the Auckland Writers Festival in May 2017. Shortlisted poets will be invited to read their poetry at a dedicated poetry event at the Festival, where the winner will be announced.

The judge for the 2017 prize is Carol Ann Duffy. Duffy is Britain’s Poet Laureate and is the first woman in the role’s 400 year history. She is one of the most significant names in contemporary poetry and the author of books for children, plays and many celebrated poetry collections including Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry Prize, The World’s Wife (1999), Love Poems (2010) and The Bees (2011). She has been awarded numerous awards and prizes for her work including the T.S Eliot Poetry Prize.

 

For more information about the prize and Sarah Broom see here.

For more information about the Auckland Writers Festival, which will be held from 16 – 21 May 2017, visit here.

 

HOW TO ENTER

The prize is awarded on the basis of an original collection of poems by a New Zealand resident or citizen. Entries will be accepted from from 6 February 2017 until 2 March 2017.

Poets are required to submit six to eight poems, of which at least five must be unpublished. The recipient of the prize will be announced in May 2017 at the Auckland Writers Festival. Shortlisted poets will be invited to attend a dedicated event and read from their work.

Entries should be emailed to poetryprize@sarahbroom.co.nz Any queries should be emailed to enquiries@sarahbroom.co.nz

 

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

1. Poets are required to submit six to eight poems of which at least five must be unpublished. 2. There is no maximum or minimum length – formatting and font size is your choice.
3. Entrants must be New Zealand permanent residents or citizens.
4. Only one entry per person will be accepted.

5. Entries must be the author’s original work. Any use of quotation must be acknowledged by attribution to its source.

6. Entries must be submitted as one electronic file per entrant, as an email attachment in Word or PDF format. No identifying details should be present in this poetry portfolio.

7. Your entry should also include a covering email with a brief personal statement, an indication of how you would use the award money, and contact details. These covering details are not provided to the judge.

8. The judge will assess the merits of submissions, and the Sarah Broom Poetry Trust reserves the right not to award a prize.

9. The prize recipient will be announced at the Auckland Writers Festival in May 2017 and in other appropriate publications.

10. No correspondence with the judge will be entered into.

11. The name and photograph of the prize recipient may be used by the Sarah Broom Poetry Trust for publicity purposes.

The judges for the 2015 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize

The judges for the 2015 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize are:

2015 GUEST JUDGE

2015 JUDGES

S HuntVona Groarke
Vona is an Irish poet. She has published six collections with Gallery Press, the latest being X, (2014), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Others include Spindrift (2010), Flight (2002) – which won the Michael Hartnett Award, and her translation from Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill’s eighteenth-century Irish, Lament for Art O’Leary (2008), which is currently being adapted as an opera by Irish composer, Irene Buckley. In the U.S., she publishes with Wake Forest University Press. Her poems have recently appeared in Yale Review, The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Guardian, The Times and Poetry Review. She teaches poetry in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester in the UK and is the editor of Poetry Ireland Review.
S RossSarah Ross, BA (Hons) Canterbury, MSt (Distinction) Oxford, DPhil Oxford
Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in English at Victoria University of Wellington. She specialises in early modern literature, poetry, and women’s writing, and she is the editor of Katherine Austen’s Book M (ACMRS, 2011) and the author of numerous articles on early modern women’s writing, poetry, and manuscript culture.

M GleissnerMichael Gleissner, LLB (Hons), MBA, CPA
Michael met Sarah in 1990 and they married in 1999 before moving to New Zealand. Michael is General Manager Corporate Strategy at the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. Previously he held Chief Financial Officer roles at Pacific Fibre and Sealord Group and various roles at Fonterra. Michael has also worked as a lawyer in London and Auckland. He is an avid supporter of the Arts, and shared a particular strong interest in poetry with Sarah. Michael lives in Auckland with his and Sarah’s three young children.

Kirsti Whalen makes a moving tribute to Sarah Broom

Kirsti has just posted this on her blog. She has the writing life within her, her mother would be proud, and as she took to the stage on Sunday, it shone out for us all.

In Memory of Sarah Broom

It was with a mild hangover and a brimming heart that I greeted the day following my first writers festival reading. I attended a great many luminous events, but read as part of the celebration of the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Prize.

I feel incredibly honoured to have been shortlisted for this very special award, especially alongside such distinguished poets as Emma Neale and C.K. Stead, the winner, to whom I offer my utmost, and sincere, congratulations.

This event held a special significance for me, in so many ways. Before I went on stage, my dad told me to do it for my mum, and to imagine her at the back of the room.

I lost my mum to cancer six years ago. Knowing how short these years feel only makes me more amazed at the courage of Sarah’s family and friends, creating this tribute to her life such a short time after she left it.

My mother was a staunch supporter of my writing, and in the diary I inherited after her death she stressed that she hoped I could find a life in which I wrote, above anything else. When I was informed that I had won the Katherine Mansfield Young Writers Award back in 2006, I remember clutching her hands and jumping up and down in the entrance of our old home, with shared excitement.

The submission that I sent for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize was titled ‘i’m only here because she isn’t,’ a line from one of my poems. This statement is applicable to my both my mother and Sarah, two women who fought their cancer with incredible bravery, and both, in different ways, left a legacy of language.

See the rest of her blog here.

Emma Neale on being shortlisted for the Sarah Broom Poetry Award

This is a terrific piece of writing. Emma offers us a moving tribute to Sarah, her love of her poetry and a poem– amongst other things.

‘Now that I am settling down a bit from the giddy whirl of the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival, I want to repeat here how much admiration I have for Michael Gleissner and the other trust members who set up the Sarah Broom Award. To do this so soon after losing Sarah must have taken an enormous amount of energy and focus at a very raw and vulnerable time. I know from all the positive feedback and well-wishing I was lucky enough to receive even as a short-listee, that the wider poetry community has been highly aware of the award and the chance it offers to local poets.

It was a hoot to meet Sam Hunt at the session, and Kirsti Whalen showed really professional slam-background confidence. I’ve owned Sam’s poems since I was 13: though back then I didn’t have a clue what all the fuss about love and desire was. Adults seemed tortured by such bizarre emotions. Sam not only takes poetry to the people but also does a mean tap dance — look him up on YouTube. Also his interview on National Radio about the Sarah Broom Award is a marvellous recording. It’s the kind of radio that makes you forget how to multi-task. You just end up frozen in place, dishcloth at the window, struck in an attitude of intense distraction.’

See the rest of Emma Neale’s post here.