We are thrilled to announce that two Giramondo authors have been shortlisted for 2017 NSW Premier’s Awards: Antigone Kefala is shortlisted for her poetry collection, Fragments, for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry, and Michelle Cahill is shortlisted for her short story collection, Letter to Pessoa, for the UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing.

To see the full list of shortlisted works, please visit the NSW State Library website.

Fragments: Judges’ comments

In Fragments, Antigone Kefala faces time’s relentless fragmentation of the wholeness of human experience. Against the indifference of the world to human life in all its phases — ‘so many seasons now/…unaware of us’ — Kefala cries out to poetry. In a book of stunning austerity, razor-sharp imagery and precise free-verse prosody, Kefala appeals to the redemptive power of memory in the face of life’s transience and intimate loss; a power that, for the poet, is found in the eloquence of poetry’s restoration of memory and life.

Kefala’s poetry approaches the dark clarity and dense allegory of Paul Celan, the face of the other peering into the face of the self across an abyss of emptiness which becomes, in the shadow of the poetic gesture, an abyss of completeness: ‘yet I called your name/lost in the rain of ash/that kept on falling.’ There is also passion, the sparkle of youth texturing the shadows of the present. Beneath it all is an eye for the ‘ferocity of life’ and, in poetry, its elegant embrace of what time can give, and what time takes away.

Letter to Pessoa: Judges’ comments

This virtuosic literary collection experiments with a wide range of styles and narrative points of view. It wears its literary influences on its sleeve, adopting and adapting the narrative voices, characters, biographies and story fragments of writers as diverse as Pessoa, Derrida, Woolf, Borges and Genet. In ‘Letter to John Coetzee’ Melanie Isaacs, the minor character from Coetzee’s novel Disgrace, cheekily interrogates him about the ways in which women of colour are exploited and marginalised in literature as they are in life.

The stories address issues to do with race, war, queerness and belonging. Their characters move across geographic, class and aesthetic terrains, visiting global hotspots of struggle, tourism and migration. Questions are raised about the ethics of first-world witnessing as Cahill draws the UK, the US, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia and Australia together in a web of transnational connections.