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John Bray Poetry Award
Subcategory of Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature Festival Awards for Literature (SA)
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Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Archival-Poetics Colonial Archive : Archival-Poetics Natalie Harkin , Sydney : Vagabond Press , 2019 15786299 2019 selected work poetry

'Archival-Poetics offers a unique contribution to Australian poetry through a new way to write into, and out from, the State’s Aboriginal archives and from a Narungga woman’s standpoint. It will demonstrate an embodied reckoning with the colonial archive and those traumatic, contested and buried episodes of history that inevitably return to haunt. Family records at the heart of this work include South Australia’s Aboriginal Protection Board and Children’s Welfare Board records, highlighting assimilation policy measures targeting Aboriginal girls for removal into indenture domestic labour. Three interconnected threads underpin this Archival-poetic writing, and each thread is expanded as the theoretical heart to each section of the work: On Blood Memory – a reclamation of re-imagined histories through cultural identity (blood), narrative (memory) and connection to country (land); On Haunting as a ‘way of knowing’ – an active and honouring response to that which is silent and hidden; the seething and felt, yet unseen presence of colonial violence or unfinished business; On the Colonial Archive – a poetic spotlight on the colonial State and those key institutions, repositories and systems that maintain and perpetuate dominant discourses and representations on Indigenous peoples and histories. Each section of the work will be a potent, multi-textual artefact in its own right that centres the affective, transformative and honouring dimensions of haunting, where the potency of place, colonial-histories and blood-memory collide. They each bear witness to the state’s archivisation processes and the revelation of what is both absent and present on the record. As a trilogy offering in one volume of work, it collectively considers important questions of representation, surveillance and agency; and questions of power that resonate in our daily lives, on and through the colonial archive. It also bears witness to individual and collective loss in order to actively honour and contribute, beyond the local, to larger counter-hegemonic narratives of colonial history. This work demonstrates a critical-creative way of decolonising and transforming the colonial archive through poetic refusal, resistance and memory-making; a poetry that also engages theory, images and primary source archival material.'

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Missing Up Pamela Brown , Sydney : Vagabond Press , 2015 9242764 2015 selected work poetry (taught in 1 units)

'These offbeat, fragmentary yet often discursive poems were written over three years up to spring 2015. In part, they epitomize the absurdities of contemporary materialism. Pam Brown's well-practised scepticism dismantles monumental intent and splices the remains into a shrewd melange of imagery and thoughtful lyric complemented by playfulness. For Pam writing poetry is a habit, a disorganised ritual. Her poetic inventories begin in everyday bricolage. Real things interrupt the poems the same way thoughts and phrases do. You know - the fridge over there, the bus stop, surf music on a radio, a raisin squashed against a floor tile - always backgrounding a connection to the 'social' as the poems make political and personal associative links. Though disquiet is present it is usually temporary - an optimistic wit plays through this idiosyncratic poetry as a kind of placebo. But, in the end, Pam Brown simply lets the language do the work.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2014

winner y separately published work icon The Sunlit Zone Lisa Jacobson , Parkville : Five Islands Press , 2012 14046758 2012 single work novel

'The Sunlit Zone is a moving elegy of love and loss, admirable for its narrative sweep and the family dynamic that drives it. A risk-taking work of rare, imaginative power.' (publisher's website)