We are thrilled to announce that Judith Beveridge was awarded the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry in Canberra on 23 October, for Sun Music: New and Selected Poems. See below for the full judges’ comments.
With joyous fluency and formal mastery, Beveridge’s Sun Music: New and Selected Poems draws the reader into an electrifying encounter with language, guiding us through its flexure and torsion, its exacting grace. The selection of new poems in Sun Music linger on both the human and animal worlds, from the delicate texture of Banaras silk sari to cane toads to the act of juicing sugar cane, and are marked by their clarity of perception and attentiveness to textural and sonic detail. The titular elegy, ‘Sun Music’, is one of several where the poet turns to more personal territory, mourning the loss of a father who found redemption from drinking through bird-watching, finding himself ‘intoxicated / by the sea, the sky, the spindrift a new / spell he could steer his life by’. Beveridge takes a similarly ecstatic pleasure in the elements in many of these new poems, which balance the clamouring external landscape with a meditative, introspective interior world that increasingly seeks a language for loss and grief.