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Poet Bob Orr honoured at Writers Week

Poet Bob Orr honoured at Writers Week

Auckland poet Bob Orr was presented the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Poetry yesterday, a prize given biennially in recognition of a distinguished contribution to New Zealand poetry.

The award, which is jointly funded by VUP (Victoria University Press) and the New Zealand Poetry Society, was presented as part of the New Zealand Festival Writers Week. Established in 2002, the award is named after New Zealand writer Lauris Edmond who published many volumes of poetry, a novel, a number of plays and an autobiography. Her Selected Poems (1984) won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize.

Bob Orr learned of his win when VUP publisher Fergus Barrowman announced it live at a NZ Festival Writers Week session, ‘Five Poets and a Prize.’

“I was stunned. I thought this would go to an up-and-coming young poet. I knew Lauris personally and she had such a huge generosity of spirit, so this is a real honour for me.”

Bob Orr has published seven books of poetry, most recently Odysseus in Woolloomooloo (Steele Roberts) and his work appears in numerous anthologies. Born in the Waikato, Bob has spent most of his adult life in Auckland where he works as a boatman on the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.

The Writers Week event featured readings from Bob Orr, Dinah Hawken, the 2007 recipient of the Lauris Edmond Award, and notable poets Harry Ricketts, Claire Orchard and Chris Tse.

This is the second time the Lauris Edmond Award has been presented as part of the New Zealand Festival Writers Week and the first time that Victoria University Press has been involved in sponsorship and in the presentation itself, with Fergus Barrowman, the publisher at VUP presenting the Award to Bob Orr.

Frances Edmond, chair of the Friends of the Lauris Edmond Award, says she is delighted at the new funding partnership with Victoria.

"It is not only a great pleasure but a sense of coming home for the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award to be presented in association with Victoria University and in Wellington at the New Zealand Festival. Lauris is an alumna of Victoria University and she would have been thrilled to be supported by New Zealand's leading university for the creative arts.”

The inaugural recipient was Bill Sewell, who received the award posthumously in 2003 with Brian Turner accepting the prize on his behalf. Subsequent recipients have been Jenny Bornholdt, Dinah Hawken, Brian Turner, Diana Bridge, Riemke Ensing and in 2014 Michael Harlow.


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