Sunday, January 10, 2021

ACT Writing and Publishing Awards

Along with Eleanor Malbon, I judged the Poetry category of the 2020 Writers Centre ACT Writing & Publishing Awards.

We had excellent submissions to the category, but we ultimately chose Sandra Renew’s collection Acting Like a Girl from Recent Work Press.

‘Acting Like a Girl. From its deceptively declamatory opening poem, ‘Trust what I tell you. / I am here to describe / one of the greatest discoveries / that has ever been made’ this collection brings a muscular and well-dressed strength to its examination of gender, while revealing the protagonist's vulnerabilities as equally robust. As one example, that making a stand can come at a cost, ‘make convoluted arrangements to never leave / the dog home alone and vulnerable.’ while showing that patience and teaching can be ends in themselves, ‘Just wait for the dog. What else do you have to do?’ The book maintains an un-veering focus, and drawn from a series of interviews it develops a historical artifact that shows the reader a multitude of experiences while taking no prisoners; ‘the toad count rose, all those potential princes, under the wheels,’ while acknowledging the finiteness of the individual, ‘Where will my atoms go when I die? They’ll mix and meld with the Sandman, ride the V8 rumble….’

I really enjoyed reading and discussing the poetry books submitted to the ACT Writing & Publishing Awards, congratulations to those shortlisted and thank you to all who submitted their work. It made for some tough choices.

You can find Acting Like a Girl at Recent Work Press, and please get a copy of the Highly Commended books, Blur by the by Cham Zhi Yi and Catching the Light by Suzanne Edgar. You can find Sandra's video response to the award, as well as information on all the other winners at the ACT Writers Centre website.

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