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Lionel Fogarty

Aitken, Au, Fogarty and Gorton shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

Three Giramondo poets and one novelist have been shortlisted for the 2023 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The shortlisted works:

Revenants by Adam Aitken – Poetry Award
Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au – Fiction Award
Harvest Lingo by Lionel Fogarty – Indigenous Writer’s Prize
Mirabilia by Lisa Gorton – Poetry Award

Read the judges’ comments below. Congratulations to these authors, and to all of this year’s finalists.

Revenants by Adam Aitken

Shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

Revenants is a mesmerising collection of wistful, atmospheric poems that speak of returnings and revisitations, of the impossible desire to embody and inhabit the past. The poet guides us through places, people and events which no longer exist, but have left their indelible shadows on this earth. Aitken questions what it means to be haunted, and seamlessly juxtaposes the prosaic with the poetic, at times self-consciously subverting the artistic impulse with wry humour. 

With characteristic gentleness and a deft lightness of touch, Aitken displays his restless curiosity and probing intelligence throughout the poems, all the while dancing upon strange currents of longing, loneliness and resignation. Throughout the collection, Revenants reiterates the questions that underpin our meaning-making in this world: What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be dead? ‘We enter this room / and all stop talking. / Maybe it’s like this / beyond the canvas’. 

— Judges’ comments

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

Shortlisted for the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

Vote for the book in the NSWPLA People’s Choice Awards here. Voting closes 14 April 2023.

A masterpiece of observation and subtle insight, this exquisite novel uses crisp prose and the deceptive simplicity of its narrative to bring intimate relationships to shimmering life. A daughter and mother meet for a holiday in Japan. The narrator-daughter observes her mother as they wander through the streets of Tokyo, into galleries, temples and shops, and into tentative conversations that evoke their shared and separate and sometimes imagined experiences. 

As each deftly rendered episode flows onto the next, a meditation emerges on the elusive, shifting web of meaning made by stories, memories and images in our lives. Deeply felt and brilliantly restrained, this book conveys the often-contradictory dynamics in the parent–child relationship, the way in which both alienation and intimacy, and difference and resonance, shape the relationships between the narrator and her mother, and the narrator with herself.

— Judges’ comments

Harvest Lingo by Lionel Fogarty

Shortlisted for the Indigenous Writers’ Prize

This extraordinary volume of poetry from renowned Yugambeh poet Lionel Fogarty is urgent, poignant and compelling. It reckons with history, interconnectedness and injustice, interweaving individual experience with the larger webs of relationships that link First Nations peoples to each other whilst also speaking to connections with colonised peoples elsewhere. Throughout, Fogarty interrogates expression and form, wielding the English language itself as a decolonising tool. The poet challenges empire while portraying the lives and experiences of First Nations peoples with intimacy and grace. 

Harvest Lingo invites the reader into dialogues that stretch across time, space, and place. This collection is uncompromising in its demand that the voices of First Nations peoples, communities and Countries be heard on our own terms. Every carefully chosen word connects with others to form a rhythm that is sometimes gentle and sometimes fierce, mirroring the heartbeats of peoples, place and resistance that shape this collection. 

— Judges’ comments

Mirabilia by Lisa Gorton

Shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry

Mirabilia’s poems stem from deep, eclectic research. As they unpick and anatomise ekphrastic practices (sometimes gutting them), they are propelled by a powerful interest in justice, especially concerning women’s lives and the more-than-human world. The poems’ method involves looking again, assembling evidence in patterns so that poems speak to one another. Lines and images bounce between poems, repositioned, restive. These astounding poems unfold like the chambers of a nautilus: spiralling, repeating in dazzling patterns. 

An eye/I hovers but is brought into question for its complicity in ways of seeing that have cramped or violated the lives and conditions Gorton explores. This eye/I is unsettled, elided, displaced, mirrored and measured. Gorton’s intelligent and inventive poems dwell between the lines of history, art and poetry, cerebral, mysterious and often devastating. They bring to poetry a heteroglossia usually confined to fiction in their exhilarating consideration of how art might be made and unmade.

— Judges’ comments

Lionel Fogarty and Jessica Au shortlisted for 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards

Works by Jessica Au and Lionel Fogarty have been shortlisted for the 2023 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Au has been nominated in the Fiction category for her novel Cold Enough for Snow, and Fogarty has been nominated in the Indigenous Writing category for his poetry collection, Harvest Lingo. Read the judges’s comments below.

Lionel Fogarty’s anthology of poems covers an enormous breadth of subject matter, marrying humanistic compassion and intelligence with remarkable formal experimentation. Topics covered by the poems include international terrorism, the Internet, medicine, and Emiliano Zapata, but Fogarty brilliantly collapses categories and gives a true sense of the interrelatedness of phenomena. Particularly striking are the ‘India Poems’, which form the second part of the anthology and discuss the Indian caste system and economic inequality in relationship with the position of Australia’s First Peoples. The poems emphasise revolution as a global movement and the need to cross territorial boundaries; at the same time, they contain achingly personal and poignant reflections on death, desire, and memory. The style of the poems is intellectually and aesthetically challenging without being abstruse. Fogarty often defies easy interpretation, but never retreats into obscurantism. Some lines strike the reader as a blinding flash of insight: ‘Fascism is the dead flower for every dead voice’.

Above all, Harvest Lingo presents a truly unique poetic vision. Despite the diversity of the poems, there is a consistent sense throughout that political struggle without love is ultimately futile. As Fogarty writes in ‘Stay Alive Next 16 Years (Fish Trap)’: ‘We don’t want desire to be dead leaves.’ It is rare to encounter a book which operates so effortlessly on the intellectual, poetic, and political registers.

— Judges’ report, Harvest Lingo

Jessica Au’s lyrical second novel, Cold Enough for Snow, opens up new horizons for Australian literature. Featuring an unnamed protagonist travelling with her mother in Japan, Au’s work gently poses the question: how well can we know the ones we love? Masterfully slipping between memory and the present, the novel carries a subtle eloquence, replete with astute observations. Au’s prose is like a river, pulling the reader along as the story pools and eddies, flowing steady and deep. It may be a slender volume – but this book holds all the heft of a writer in full command of her craft.

— Judges’ report, Cold Enough for Snow

‘Intruder Wants the Writer’: a poem by Lionel Fogarty

The following poem is from Harvest Lingo by Lionel Fogarty, a collection published in 2022.

Intruder Wants the Writer

To write as a child to be a man
No boxes of childhood voice
my present, writing details.
No hidden child backward growing up
gains my learned on the road sky.
Future’s song dance lit pen friends for me in evenings
Not one sort of personal fireworks voice,
gave rise to the now existence dared.
Reluctance response by these ages,
Spare me not remorseful teenage pandemonium.
Pare her tempest defiant with red yellow brown ochre.
Breathe well inside the walls of rooms helplessly undecided.
No baby’s cries touch my raiment saddest crutch lost of mum’s death.
Those life survivals by childhood happenings are snapped
by swine trample readership.
Embellishing more than needed.


Lionel Fogarty: a note on Harvest Lingo

Acclaimed poet, Indigenous rights activist and Murri man Lionel Fogarty writes on Harvest Lingo (June 2022), his fourteenth collection of poems.

Harvest the world. My next writing is power for inspiration and understanding. With life and eyes to read appreciation to complete a stimulating determination. Harvest lingo has the power to light the dark. Misunderstanding into fresh seeds to flower Indigenous international struggle to some closure. Also gives affection to solution which can treasure knowledgeable people. The work of Harvest Lingo has taken me to write another level, but harmony is active to inspire others as stories are seemly to world words. Cause unity to fight the same adventures. Spoken ultra-modernism needs complement. General justice to overcome injustice. Harvest Lingo coordinates this continent owner, authoritarian at the same meaning entwined existence for liberators. Conversation in these ages are to undo abstractional, neo-colonist written forms, you all will read a heart shows worlds of words, forefront by a mind it advocates its immaturity injustice, who expect me to write and re-write in accordancy to their intervention. To walk, listen in overseas stories, gave and combining anticipation, perpetuated so uniqueness can’t be hidden. Passion has a way with words, harvesting existency. In a global world, Harvest Lingo will give Multicultural clarative fireplaces. We, in me, has sensitive political raising. Now within song, written so our tranquility must travel to all plants. Recitation by readers to these fine works are to be used by young, old, aged, people. Even to mind out of the same sensationalism spaces. Solidarity to be shown in a big word playing world has to have ways out of naivety, jealousy, even value. Then a regional written perfectionism will always be urgent. Harvest Lingo pulses blood for good spirits, amended into higher educated united First nations all over earth. Hybrinating a retrospective in respects gives Harvest Lingo a broadcasting new world order to sparkling, translating, published writes, needs are wanted now. The skills for excellency took a long time, poetry to existency. Let’s suggest that this book will make the price so expensive. Heritage has magical verses because poetry is emotion. Laudable shapes a lingo, but poetry has pohotic and Harvest surrenders its sweet response before you all close the book. 

— Lionel Fogarty

Photo: Marnya Rothe