“Margaret River Sestets” wins the Cardiff Poetry Prize 2012—Makes the Landscape “flame and sing”

Published : Tuesday, December 04, 2012

In June my poem “Margaret River Sestets” was announced as the winner of this year’s Cardiff International Poetry Prize for 2012.

The prize attracts entries from all over the world, and it carries prize money of 5000 pounds.

My poem, written a little while ago in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, appeared in the New Welsh Review in September, along with the poems that placed second and third.

I’m thrilled to have won, of course, and I’d spent the money (paying down debt) long before the cheque arrived. But it’s what chief judge Sinéad Morrisey had to say about the poem in her judge’s remarks that gave me most joy:

“Appropriately for a poem about a river, this is a work completely at home in its own flow of language: its fluency is breathtaking, not least because it takes so many risks with syntax along the way. There is great originality of description here, a way of making the Australian landscape in which it is embedded flame and sing, and if it is, as it terms itself, ‘post pastoral’ (with mobile phones, and trees described as mobsters in grass skirts and black glasses) the sheer specific beauty of what’s displayed and contemplated in the poem resonates all the more powerfully for that. We carry our countries into the world with us and through it and sometimes out again is one of those lines that expresses an abiding truth so effectively it is effortlessly memorised. Smart, self-deprecating, fast, unpredictable, and fantastically observed – this was the outstanding winner.”

Australian poet Rhiannon Hall has posted her reading of my poem on her blog: http://rhiannonhall.blogspot.com.au