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The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems 2012

Press Release: 21st November 2012

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems 2012

The winner of the 2012 Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems, run by International Writers' Workshop NZ Inc, has been announced.

Judges Stu Bagby (poet) and Jenny Cole (reader and publisher of poetry) were unanimous in their decision that Canterbury poet James Norcliffe be awarded the $1250 prize.

James Norcliffe’s sequence titled 'What do you call your male parent?' was prompted by his father’s changing circumstances and by how we are the sum of the things that have happened to us.

"I wanted to look at some of the moments and stories that have been important in my father’s life and link them with motifs, images and certain language echoes and element," he says.

Auckland poet, Jenny Clay, is the runner-up.

Stu Bagby commented that with very few exceptions the entries were of a good standard, were a pleasure to read, and demonstrated a wide diversity of styles. "We looked for imagery and language which demanded attention, wasn't stale, and which didn't simply try to impress by being clever. The winning sequence demonstrated an assurance, daring, and use of language which impressed us both. The second place entry had a lightness and charm which came very close to winning."

Jenny Cole commented on the wide variety of subjects, ranging from legends and fables, love and loss, relationships with lovers, family and friends and recognition of a life well lived. "As someone who enjoys poetry, at times it was like looking over the writer's shoulder, almost eavesdropping. Poetry sequences are a demanding format and the best lead well from one section to another with an economy of words and lightness of touch - these had phrases which made your mouth water."

International Writers' Workshop NZ Inc (IWW) was founded in 1976 by poet Hilda B Whyte and meets twice a month from February to November at the Lake House Arts Centre in Takapuna. IWW's main aim is to inspire writers by means of workshops and competitions.

The Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems has been made possible by a bequest from the Jocelyn Grattan Charitable Trust. It was a specific request of the late Jocelyn Grattan that her mother be recognised through an annual competition in recognition of her love for poetry and that the competition be for a sequence or cycle of poems with no limit on the length of the poems. It is one of two poetry competitions funded by the Trust, the other being the prestigious Kathleen Grattan Award run by the publishers of Landfall magazine.

This is the 4th year the prize has been contested.

In 2009 Alice Hooton was the inaugural winner of the Prize for her sequence 'America'.

In 2010 joint winners were declared. They were Janet Charman for her sequence 'Mother won't come to us', and Rosetta Allan for her sequence 'Capricious Memory'.

In 2011 Jillian Sullivan won with ‘how to live it’.

About the winner

James Norcliffe is a New Zealand poet and writer for young people. He has published six collections of poetry including most recently Along Blueskin Road and Villon in Millerton and this month will see the launch of two new collections: Shadow Play which was a finalist in the Proverse International Writing Prize and Packing a Bag for Mars, new and selected poems for younger readers illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

He is also a noted children’s author having published eight novels for younger readers, most recently The Loblolly Boy (which won the NZ Post Junior Fiction Award), The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer and this year’s The Enchanted Flute. A new novel Felix and the Red Rats will come out next May.

He has been an editor for Takahe Magazine, currently edits the ReDraft series with Tessa Duder and is poetry editor of the Christchurch Press. He lives in Church Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, near the shaky city of Christchurch.

Stu Bagby (judge), Jenny Clay (runner-up), James Norcliffe (winner of the 2012 Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems) and Jenny Cole (judge).

For further information about the Prize:


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