Gerald Murnane, Brian Castro, Fiona Wright and Bonny Cassidy are shortlisted for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
We are pleased to announce that four titles published by Giramondo have been shortlisted for this year’s Prime Minister’s Literary Awards: Gerald Murnane’s Border Districts in the Fiction category, and Bonny’s Cassidy’s Chatelaine, Brian Castro’s Blindness and Rage: a Phantasmagoria and Fiona Wright’s Domestic Interior in the Poetry category. See the judges’ comments below for each of the shortlisted titles.
To view the full shortlist, please visit the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards website.
In Border Districts, Gerald Murnane has distilled the various elements of his inimitable literary sensibility into a perfectly formed short work. The logic of this unique book is associative rather than narrative. Styled as a ‘report’ on the images that strike the mind of its narrator, it has him relating scenes from his childhood and adolescence, reflecting on the books he has read, remembering old acquaintances, and taking in the landscape of the small borderland town where he has come to live. The narrative is an exquisite prism of introspection, in which a life’s experiences are carefully ordered and transformed into art by virtue of the patterns they come to form in the mind and the profoundly evocative qualities they have acquired. Rendered in crystalline prose and touched with an elegiac pathos, Border Districts is the crowning achievement of a singular literary career.
Blindness and Rage is a verse novel – composed of thirty-four cantos – notable for its mordant wit, its rich allusiveness and the invigorating fluency of its verse. Characterised by its author as a ‘phantasmagoria’, it describes the adventures of a terminally ill poet from Adelaide named Lucien Gracq, as he undertakes a final journey through the seamy underbelly of the literary world in the hope of realising his desire to complete his own epic poem. Blindness and Rage displays the formal inventiveness that has long been a feature of Brian Castro’s work, but it is also an extremely funny book, packed with jokes and wordplay that wrings considerable delight from Gracq’s gloomy outlook. Blindness and Rage is a wicked satire on pretension and futility, a poem about ambition and literary endeavour as paths to frustration and failure, but it is itself a poem that manages to avoid these pitfalls and achieve a brilliant success.
Domestic Interior by Fiona Wright invites us to observe Australian life through the lens of the suburban domestic. Wright’s aim is not to replicate notions of domestic space as one that inhibits its female occupants, but rather one that, if properly calibrated to the moment, is copious in its catalogue of energies. Wright’s meditation on domestic interiors extends to the interiority of the self as she turns her gaze outdoors. ‘Sometimes a reorientation’, she says, ‘presents another face to the sea’. In ‘Winter Pastoral’ she juxtaposes the concrete imagery of road kill – ‘dead wombats bouldered / and wild-eyed wallabies / vaulted the boundary fence’ – against the unexpected marvel of the sky: ‘I’d forgotten how stars giddy / out here,’ she says. Finding herself in Berlin, the poet is disoriented but enthralled inside a foreign language: a woman on a train hands her ‘the word Pfingsrosen, / a peony plucked from her own front yard’. The poet later recalls ‘a white lace dress. We’re drinking gin,’ she says, ‘muddled with cherries’. Intoxicating in its imagery, Domestic Interior affirms language, even its smallest components, as the prime constituents of our inner world.
Chatelaine by Bonny Cassidy puts the word centre stage. Cassidy’s poetry is rooted in her investigations of language, an interest in a feminist consciousness, and her capacity for renewing meaning as a virtual space of desire. The reader enters a poetic world of ‘noisy secrets’ in which ‘riddles multiply’ to generate a reading experience in which it is more rewarding to ask than to answer: ‘Question nearly everything, read it again,’ the poems command. ‘Why do you do this?’ and ‘who else owns your body?’ From pilgrims to daleks, a shimmering heath to a basement carpark, Cassidy tunnels in opposite directions – accelerating through time, dreams, myth and person – to stake a territory beyond the language of the familiar. The poems in Chatelaine coalesce in a dream in which Cassidy renovates the ancestral household into an audacious new architecture of meaning.
Giramondo is thrilled to announced that Alexis Wright and Michael Farrell have been awarded 2018 Queensland Literary Awards. Wright was awarded the University of Queensland Non-fiction Book Award for her “stunningly innovative” book Tracker, while Michael Farrell was awarded the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, a prize for an outstanding collection of poetry by an Australian writer, for his collection, I Love Poetry. See what the judges had to say about each title below.
To view the full list of winners, please visit the Queensland Literary Awards website.
This book is stunningly innovative in the way it brings the life and story of Tracker Tilmouth to the printed page. Tracker was a visionary Aboriginal leader who used his knowledge of economics to further opportunities for his people. This book is operatic in form, soaring to great heights and depths, always fascinating and ultimately illuminating about this Indigenous leader who remains unknown to many non-Indigenous Australians.
One of the country’s foremost poets, Michael Farrell opens a door and invites the reader to step beyond the threshold of disbelief into a new and dazzling world. In I Love Poetry, his commitment to Australia as subject, and to poetry as a mode of thought, gains power with each fearless interrogation. Farrell remixes the Australian experience though a multiplicity of word play, bush poetic, irony, fragmented joy, and surprise cameos from Australian icons such as INXS and Waleed Aly. A truly inventive book, I Love Poetry brings a whole new dimension to Australian camp: extravagant, subversive, and hilarious, but also profound in its capacity to reimagine the terms with which we inhabit this complex continent. In the great tradition of queer Australian landscape poetics, like Patrick White, David Malouf, and Martin Harrison, Farrell recombines Australian ecology, history, and mythology into glorious, and very funky, new forms. But despite the book’s grand canvas, many of the poems feature a startling intimacy: the poet has become as open to the details of his self as he has always been to the currents and conjectures of pop culture, literature and philosophy; all is vibrant, viable material for this lyrebird of Australian poetry.
Giramondo has acquired A Novel Idea, a new book by author and performance artist Fiona McGregor. The book, a photoessay memoir that depicts McGregor’s writing of her Age Book of the Year award-winning novel Indelible Ink, will be published in March 2019. World rights were sold to Giramondo by Jane Novak.
Giramondo Commissioning Editor Nick Tapper said of the acquisition: ‘We’re delighted to be publishing A Novel Idea, which brings photography into dialogue with Fiona McGregor’s prose writing and performance work. The photoessay is a much-neglected genre, but Fiona turns and modifies it in unexpected ways, bringing her own sense of rhythm and intensity to the work. She gives an honest and moving, and very funny, self-portrait over years of artistic labour, showing the work of the writer in a way not seen before.’
A Novel Idea is a photoessay about the process of writing a novel. Begun four years into the writing of McGregor’s Age Book of the Year Award-winning novel Indelible Ink, it is a tongue-in-cheek rumination on the humdrum and loneliness of the novelist’s daily life, and the act of endurance which the writer must perform. Using text, and photographs taken on a hand-me-down camera, the book creates an in-depth portrait over several years of labour and procrastination, joy and despair. She works on the novel alone in her flat in Bondi with nothing but a desk, a pin-board, a laptop and a cat. McGregor also travels to Berlin and Estonia, and the book captures details of the world outside as they intrude. McGregor’s voice is wry, vulnerable, at times caustic, capturing the colloquial qualities of her fiction and the durational nature of her performance art via the ephemeral and essential thoughts that make up an author’s days, weeks, years.
Fiona McGregor is a Sydney author and performance artist. Since 1993, she has published five books, including Indelible Ink, which won The Age Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Indie Book awards, the Barbara Jefferis Award, and the Western Australian Premier’s Awards. Her other books include Strange Museums, a travel memoir of a performance art tour through Poland, the short story collection Suck My Toes, which won the Steele Rudd Award, and the underground classic chemical palace.
Argentinian author Mariana Dimópulos, whose novel All My Goodbyes Giramondo published last year, will be holding several public events in Australia in August and September. Dimópulos will appear at events in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, joined in some by her Australian translator Alice Whitmore. More information on these events can be found below.
All My Goodbyes was published in Giramondo’s new Southern Latitudes series in August 2017, and will be published in the United States in January 2019 by Transit Books. Dimópulos’ next book, Pendiente, is forthcoming from Giramondo in April 2019.
Dimópulos is currently undertaking a residency at the JM Coetzee Centre in Adelaide, sponsored by the ARC Discovery Project ‘Other Worlds: Forms of World Literature’.
4 September: Mariana Dimópulos in Conversation with Ivor Indyk – Gleebooks, Glebe, 6pm for 6.30pm
29 August: Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies, Australian National University (details to come)
We are pleased to share the news that four Giramondo authors will feature at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival this August, including Ali Cobby Eckermann, Michael Farrell and New Zealand writer, Ashleigh Young. Also appearing at the festival will be Alexis Wright to speak about her Stella-Prize-winning book, Tracker.
Find full sessions details for all attending authors by following the links below.
We are delighted to announce that Alexis Wright has been awarded the 2018 Magarey Medal for Biography for her book, Tracker.
Tracker, which also won the Stella Prize earlier in the year, is a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth.
The Magarey Medal is a biennial prize that is awarded to the female author who has published the work judged to be the best biographical writing on an Australian subject in the preceding two years. The prize is administered by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature and the Australian Historical Association. To learn more about the award, please visit the ASAL website.
Read the judges’ comments below.
The committee felt that in a strong field Alexis Wright’s Tracker represented a clear and worthy winner of the Magarey Medal. Tracker is a significant achievement, which provides a complex historical, social, and personal account of a remarkable Australian by innovatively supplementing the conventions of biography with Indigenous knowledge and perspective. Tracker is a bespoke biography which crafts its form to fit with its individual subject, whilst also respecting more collective responses which are important to the Indigenous life story. The author calls it ‘consensus storytelling’ and locates its conventions in the decision-making practices of Indigenous community.
Tracker Tilmouth is an extraordinary Australian who worked to improve the well-being of Indigenous Australians by tirelessly advocating, acting, and inspiring people and projects. He was an influential man who worked within complex networks of organisation, business, government, politics and wider society so as to aid and develop an enduring Indigenous contribution to Australian life. To tell such a story the form curates a range of different perspectives from a remarkably diverse set of people who were chosen by Tracker to contribute to his story. The book artfully organises these recollections along with interviews with Tracker himself. The overlapping, restorying, and the meshing together of different perspectives on Indigenous experiences and histories, and the irreverent humour that recurs throughout make a powerful statement about a life expressed as purpose, imagination, action, resilience, and connection. In this way Wright is able to provide insight into a variety of individual and collective views of a remarkable Arrente man.
Tracker provides a diverse and complex appreciation of the challenges, labours, achievements and capacities of Indigenous Australians. Wright is able to vacate that location of the biographer to create a more polyphonic narrative that makes a point about the importance of a sense of society to any understanding of a life. It is a book that might be read cover to cover or dipped into serendipitously for example. Tracker enables its subject to be understood in complex moments and key relationships in such a way as to preserve the rich and multifaceted details of a life of engagement from the generalising tendencies of more conventional biography. It is a book appropriate to its subject.
We are thrilled that Border Districts by Gerald Murnane and No More Boats by Felicity Castagna have been shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Literary Award. The announcement was made at a ceremony in Canberra on Sunday, 17 June. Giramondo is the only publisher to have more than one of their published works on the finalist list.
Gerald Murnane, author of 12 fiction works and a ‘neglected literary giant’ according to the Sydney Morning Herald, has made the list for the first time and given his ‘first nod in [a] 44-year career’. Approaching his eightieth year and now ‘delivered of [his] books’, the New York Times proposed in March that he may be ‘the greatest living English-language writer most people have never heard of’. Border Districts has also been shortlisted for the ALS Gold Medal.
No More Boats is Felicity Castagna’s debut adult novel, which tells the unravelling of a man and a nation at the time of the Tampa crisis. ‘I wanted to ask questions about what happens when we cut off our past,’ Castagna told Jason Steger for the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘But also to ask how the trauma of separating yourself from your past and actively suppressing it can come out later in your life in your relationships with other people and in your understanding of the world.’ No More Boats was shortlisted for the 2018 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, and her previous novel The Incredible Here and Now won the 2015 Prime Minister’s Award for Young Adult Fiction.
The winner of the $60,000 prize will be announced on 26 August.
The occasion for this novel is the narrator’s move to a remote district near the border to be alert to what might be described as the landscape of his own mind. We are told that what we are reading is a ‘report’, intended only for the narrator’s own files, on the series of mental images that are set in train by a very ordinary sight: a tiny church and its porch window that is passed daily on the morning walk to the shops and the post office. From here, we follow the narrator down certain rabbit holes into his history that centre on books read, people recalled, objects owned and locations visited.
The focus is on paying attention to the vines of thoughts and feelings, then and now, that wind around and cling to these things. The telling is lyrical, precise, highly self-aware and, at times, disarmingly humorous. The result is a subjective portrait of certain religious, geographical, architectural, social and cultural textures of life as it has been lived in Australia over the past seven decades. This novel, a consolidation of the idiosyncratic aesthetic programme Murnane has pursued throughout his career, gestures towards the capriciousness of consciousness, the relationship between fiction and fact and the purpose of writing itself.
This novel brings to life an Italo-Australian migrant family living in Parramatta, that historic town at the border of Sydney’s western suburbs, on the river ‘where salt water met fresh and the boats could go no further’. It is 2001, the time of the Tampa crisis when the prime minister intoned, ‘we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.’ His words resonate with Antonio Martone, unhinged by grief for his dead friend and his forced retirement from the building business they shared. When he paints ‘No More Boats’ on his front yard, his alienation from his English-born wife and adult son and daughter is complete.
Castagna skilfully dramatizes the generational conflicts as well as the everyday multiculturalism of the Martones’ relationships with family and friends. Borders, boats and homes are powerful motifs in this novel. It conveys a vivid sense of a decisive historical moment, as the events of 9/11 loom – events that generated ‘all those connections between Muslims in planes and Muslims on boats’ that have marked Australian life ever since.
Flood Damages by Eunice Andrada was launched by award-winning poet and fiction writer, Michelle Cahill, at the Red Rattler Theatre in Marrickville, NSW, on Thursday 10 May, 2018. Below is an edited version of Cahill’s launch speech.
…Flood Damages is that rare book that speaks, without self-censorship, from the heart of the Eurasian woman’s experience of cultural suspicion, racial hatred, sexual fetishisation, historical and moral ambivalence. Andrada articulates this knowledge brilliantly with unwavering poise, remarkable clarity and with an intimacy that is highly skilled and syntactically varied.
These poems work in extraordinary and complex ways as they dramatise the lyrics of diaspora and domicility, of family disruption, domestic and sexual violence with colonial and environmental ravages. From the very first line in the opening poem ‘a series of half truths about drowning’ Andrada performs a striking interrogation with her rhetoric… (read more)
Photo credit: Robin Wallace-Crabbe
A eulogy delivered by Ivor Indyk at Beverley Farmer’s memorial service at Queenscliff on Sunday 29 April 2018.
It is difficult to write a formal eulogy for Beverley Farmer, because she was herself so much a writer of process. Her characters are often portrayed in ‘in-between’ states, in transition – culturally, socially, physically – and she pursues their fluctuating thoughts and emotions with fine discrimination, and a determination to bring to the surface the anxieties, the anger, the impulses to cruelty – and the ecstatic moments too – which lie within those thoughts. There is no aspect of experience she is not prepared to explore, and to observe, in the most exacting detail.
It is here, in her commitment to recording the transient moments of experience, that I think Beverley’s most striking achievement as a writer lies. Even in her fiction, it is the dynamic features of the natural world which command her closest attention, in part because her characters cannot be separated from the worlds they inhabit, but also because these elements are sources of wonder or fascination in themselves… [Read more]
Image credit: Connor Tomas O’Brien
15 April 2018
Worth $50,000, the Stella Prize is a major annual literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing. In her acceptance speech, Alexis Wright – the first Indigenous Australian to receive the prize in its six-year history – said she was ‘completely overwhelmed’ that Tracker had won, and that she ‘really had to spend some time unpacking this idea.’
‘I would like to thank you for considering the important messages in this book and its style,’ she said. ‘I wanted it to be a book for our times and from our place in the world. I am deeply grateful to you for helping Tracker reach a greater audience.’
Wright also praised the ‘remarkable diversity’ of the year’s shortlist, saying that ‘a literary dialogue that allows us to have greater knowledge and understanding of each other…is what will make Australian literature truly marvellous, relevant and far stronger than it has ever been.’
Published in November 2017, Tracker was also shortlisted for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Non-fiction, and is longlisted for the 2018 ABIA Book Awards. The book can be purchased through our website and in bookstores.
‘In this remarkable biography, Alexis Wright follows an Aboriginal tradition of storytelling that she describes as a ‘practice for crossing landscapes and boundaries, giving many voices a part in the story’. Tracker is a collective memoir of Tracker Tilmouth, charismatic Aboriginal leader, thinker, entrepreneur, visionary and provocateur. Tilmouth worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles including Director of the Central Land Council. This unique, majestic biography has been composed by Wright from interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself. It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s unique humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read.’
— Stella Prize judges’ citation for Tracker
The book, which is about the unravelling of a man and a nation set against the backdrop of the Tampa Crisis, is competing in the Multicultural NSW Award category, worth $20,000. Castagna’s previous novel The Incredible Here and Now was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2014, and won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction the same year.
Established in 1979, the awards have a history of ‘celebrating achievement by Australian writers and in helping to establish values and standards in Australian literature’. This year, over 600 works were entered across 10 prize categories.
The award finalists will be announced on 30 April 2018 as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
27 March 2018
Fiction writers Gerald Murnane and Ali Alizadeh have been longlisted for the 2018 Australian Literature Society (ALS) Gold Medal for their respective works Border Districts and The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc.
The ALS Gold Medal is an annual award presented by the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL), recognising ‘outstanding literary work in the preceding calendar year’. In 2014, Alexis Wright received the award for her novel The Swan Book.
27 March 2018
Vanessa Berry and Brian Castro have each taken out first prize at the 2018 Mascara Avant-garde Awards for works published last year. Berry’s Mirror Sydney (recently longlisted for the ABIA awards), has topped the nonfiction category, and Castro’s Blindness and Rage: A Phantasmagoria has won for fiction.
We also extend our congratulations to Oscar Schwartz, whose collection The Honeymoon Stage was shortlisted in the poetry category, and Ali Alizadeh, whose book The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc was shortlisted for fiction.
Read the judges’ comments on the two winning works below.
Described as an off-piste urban field manual, this book walks us through a psycho geography where alternative narratives find space between the icons, infrastructure, wharves and freeways. Historical layering, speculative flourishes and the rhetoric of maps shape the city’s ethical and hybrid possibilities. An extended meditation on time, space, history and urban subjectivity.
With its dark ironies and playful liberties of form there is mastery and joy in this verse novel. Castro’s musicality, anagrams and puns interpolate the banal with the absurd in 34 cantos that riff on The Divine Comedy as they tell the story of the last days of cancer fugitive and Adelaide architect, Lucian Gracq. This superb novel is innovative, thoughtful, comforting and profound.
20 March 2018
We are proud to announce that nine Giramondo authors will be appearing at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival. Running from 30 April to 6 May at a new temporary location at Carriageworks, the program – designed around the theme of ‘power’ by artistic director Michaela McGuire – will include sessions with recently published authors Alexis Wright (Tracker), Vanessa Berry (Mirror Sydney) and Fiona Wright (Domestic Interior), with the latter in conversation with New Zealand author Ashleigh Young (Can You Tolerate This?). It will also include a panel discussion featuring Western Sydney poet Maryam Azam, whose debut collection The Hijab Files will be coming out in May.
Find full sessions details for all attending authors by following the links below.
We are thrilled following the announcement that Tracker by Alexis Wright and This Water: Five Tales by Beverley Farmer have been longlisted for the 2018 Stella Prize. Read the judges’ comments below and visit the Stella Prize website for details of the full longlist.
The five stories that make up This Water draw on familiar tropes from fairy tales and classical mythology, but fashion them into distinct and evocative fictional worlds. Beverley Farmer’s protagonists confront the universal problems of love, desire, loyalty and loss; but the contexts in which they face these problems also compel us to consider the ways in which the constraints imposed upon them by virtue of their social positions as women have conspired to shape their experiences, conflicts and sufferings. The timeless nature of Farmer’s subject matter is reflected in the elemental imagery that gives the volume its unique atmosphere and underlying sense of coherence. Blood and water are organising motifs in a book whose earthiness and multivalent symbolism are matched by its surpassing elegance of expression. This Water confirms Farmer’s reputation as a stylist of rare distinction. Her euphonious prose fuses the fluency and gravitas of ancient storytelling traditions to the concentrated clarity of the greatest modern writers. She writes prose with the attentiveness of a poet, achieving much of her lyrical effect by means of a plainspoken vocabulary utilised with a perfectly attuned sense of rhythm. This Water is an estimable work by one of Australia’s finest writers.
In this remarkable biography, Alexis Wright follows an Aboriginal tradition of storytelling that she describes as a ‘practice for crossing landscapes and boundaries, giving many voices a part in the story’. Tracker is a collective memoir of Tracker Tilmouth, charismatic Aboriginal leader, thinker, entrepreneur, visionary and provocateur. Tilmouth worked tirelessly for Aboriginal self-determination, creating opportunities for land use and economic development in his many roles including Director of the Central Land Council. This unique, majestic biography has been composed by Wright from interviews with family, friends, foes and Tilmouth himself. It is one man’s story told by many voices, almost operatic in scale. With a tight narrative structure, compelling real-life characters, the book sings with insight and Tracker’s unique humour. Wright has crafted an epic that is a truly rewarding read.
5 February 2018
Young will be speaking at two sessions alongside Patricia Lockwood, Sarah Krasnostein and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The New Zealand writer’s book of essays, Can You Tolerate This?, was published in September last year, winning the prestigious $20,000 Windham-Campbell Prize and the Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Nonfiction.
The award-winning author Castagna will join Michelle de Kretser to discuss issues of migration and Australian culture as explored in her fiction novel No More Boats, also published last year.
Find more information on each of the two author’s festival sessions below.
19 January 2018
Giramondo poets Corey Wakeling and Shevaun Cooley will be appearing across six sessions at the 2018 Perth Writers Week as part of the Perth International Arts Festival. The authors are both originally from Western Australia, with Cooley an Adjunct Lecturer at the state’s Edith Cowan University, while Wakeling has since relocated to the Kansai region of Japan.
Each poet has a festival session dedicated to their latest work. On Wednesday 24 February, Wakeling will be talking to poet Philip Mead on his fervent and provocative poetry collection The Alarming Conservatory, which is to be released early next month. (Mead’s 2008 review of Wakeling’s previous collection, Goad Omen, can be found on Cordite Poetry Review.) On Thursday 25 February, Shevaun’s 2017 book Homing – a meditation on her preoccupation with place and belonging – will be discussed with Robert Wood.
Please find information on the two poets’ festival sessions below.
Alexis Wright and Jennifer Maiden have been shortlisted for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
Congratulations to Alexis Wright for being shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Nonfiction for her most recent book, Tracker, and to Jennifer Maiden for being shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry for her collection, The Metronome.
To learn more about the award, visit the Wheeler Centre website.
We congratulate Antigone Kefala for being shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry with her poetry collection, Fragments.
Antigone Kefala’s Fragments is a searing enactment of memory. Time demolishes us all in little doses, so the poet contends, but the past is “a poison / we thirst for”. Shards of memory conjure the world in various states of evanescence: dreams evoke empty rooms in old houses, the floorboards gone, even the walls are thinning to mist – here and there the cry of birds pierce the enveloping silence.
We, like the poems, may “sink in light, disappear in silence”, but Kefala bids us to recall the “glossy beings” of our younger selves who head into the future innocent to what awaits us.
Kefala astounds with imagery that is intense, unsettling and always unexpected: at dusk in the coastal town of Derveni on the Peloponnese peninsula, fishing boats are “massive dark stones / planted / in a field of moonstone”. Light, fire and flowers are recurring motifs, as is the theme of “self-sufficiency”, which in the fierce austerity of Kefala’s mind finds its ultimate embodiment in death.
Fragments is a wonder of minimalism in which we find ourselves, like the poet, dancing in memory rooms growing bigger and bigger. It is a major work by a senior poet whose poetry continues to fascinate.
This year the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, given to an outstanding collection of poetry by an Australian writer, was awarded to Antigone Kefala for her poetry collection Fragments.
About the poet
Antigone Kefala has written four works of fiction, including The First Journey, The Island and Summer Visit, and four poetry collections, The Alien, Thirsty Weather, European Notebook and Absence: New and Selected Poems as well as the non-fiction work Sydney Journals. Born in Romania of Greek parents, she lived in Greece and New Zealand before coming to Australia.
About the book
Antigone Kefala is one of the finest Australian poets, highly regarded for the intensity of her vision, yet not widely known, on account of her minimalism, and the small number of poems she has published, each carefully worked, each magical or menacing in its effects. Fragmentsis her first collection of poems in almost twenty years, since the publication of New and Selected Poems in 1998. It follows her memoir Sydney Journals (Giramondo, 2008), of which one critic wrote, ‘Kefala can render the music of the moment so perfectly, she leaves one almost singing with the pleasure of it’. This skill in capturing the moment is just as evident in Fragments, with its linguistic precision, its heightened perception and sense of drama – though the territory is often darker now, as the poet navigates the liminal spaces between life and death, and the energies which lie in wait there.
Learn more about the Queensland Literary Awards.