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Anne Elder Award
or FAW Anne Elder Poetry Award (1977-2018) ; or Anne Elder Poetry Award
Subcategory of Awards Australian Awards
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The Anne Elder Award is for the best first book of poetry published in Australia, awarded annually.

From 1977 to 2018, the award was administered by the Victorian branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers.

The 2018 award (awarded in 2019) was the first under the new administration by Australian Poetry.

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2020

winner y separately published work icon Dead Bolt Ella Jeffery , Waratah : Puncher and Wattmann , 2020 20769654 2020 selected work poetry

'This is a captivating and varied collection. No matter what Ella Jeffery turns her attention to, her subjects find sharp resolution in language that has been subtly crafted and beautifully honed. These poems carry their insights deftly and intensely, her lens always focussed on those alchemical images that move her work from sensation into perception, from observation into shimmering awareness. Everything shines with the gloss of her highly polished linguistic and imaginative skills. Her work is a triumph and a delight.
– Judith Beveridge

'As its title suggests, Dead Bolt is a meditation on home and its ability to become suddenly unhomely or uncanny. Ella Jeffery’s poetry ranges from the plangent and elegiac to the comic and satirical. It attends to both the eye and the ear; its extraordinary imagery is matched by a marvellous attention to poetry’s sonic capacity. Dead Bolt is a compelling, exquisitely realised debut. 
– David McCooey

'I love Ella Jeffery’s poetry. Like Elizabeth Bishop’s, it is companionable and unshowily surprising, and has perfect timing. Jeffery is clear-eyed and has a gift for the exact word, one that opens a rift. This is a masterly and original first collection—a major work.
– Lisa Gorton'

Source : publisher's blurb

Year: 2019

joint winner y separately published work icon Blur by The Zhi Yi Cham , Sydney : Subbed In , 2019 16927844 2019 selected work poetry

'blur by the is a collection of fractures that make not quite a whole. It is a giving of permission to the self, to exist as messily as ( i s ). These poems are a record of navigation through longing and dis [ place ] ment of the body and of place, a shattering of expectation(s) of the self and of family, often through dreams, food and eroticism. blur by the is an attempt at freedom.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

joint winner y separately published work icon Recipes for the Disaster Gareth Sion Jenkins , Wollongong : Five Islands Press , 2019 15864704 2019 selected work poetry 'Gareth Jenkins’ work reads like rituals or incantations, corrupted by the manufactured nature of our modern world while constantly seeking to resist that corruption. Historicity, environmental awareness, culture and its wars: these themes and their constant transmutation dominate and destabilise the voices in his poems. In between, the unreliability of language, an overarching self-awareness of privilege and the uncertainty of human relations make the book both alien and deeply personal. His is a project intent on an honest, heartfelt grandeur of connection, all the while haunted by the fear that such human connection is already doomed to a shallow etching of what it might be. Recipes for the Disaster is at once bleak, mystical and strangely life-affirming; an exploration of mysteries, an excavation of hidden failures, an exhortation to be better than we have been.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2018

winner y separately published work icon Flood Damages Eunice Andrada , Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2018 13182596 2018 selected work poetry

'In Flood Damages Andrada explores themes associated with immigration and inheritance, through the figure of a young Australian Filipina woman, whose family has been irreparably damaged by deportation, violence and illness. The wounds inflicted by these events, political and personal, are felt most keenly in and through her body – ‘your blood sings of the scattered histories/ that left you here’ – and in a dramatic use of language, influenced by the rhythms of prayer, which expresses pain and anger with passionate intensity. A poet and performing artist, Andrada combines the theatrical qualities of voice and image in this, her first published collection, affirming the female body as a site of vulnerability and power.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2017

winner y separately published work icon Bone Ink Rico Craig , Ulladulla : Guillotine Press , 2017 13390527 2017 selected work poetry ''These vivid poems meld wild energy with meticulous crafting. They trace the tactile, the remembered and the sensuous, tracking young lives as they unfold under a 'deadpan sky'. With their exquisite music, fresh and startling images, they are variously evocative, mournful and vibrant. They witness the gritty, the violent and the intense with unflinching focus, probing atonement and resolution as their histories rise and subside. This is an exceptionally assured and original debut' - Felicity Plunkett 

''Urban, decadent, dystopian; in Rico Craig's Western Suburbs there are many countries, caliphates, Terracotta warriors and Arctic shelves. With 'the taste of a derelict future', his working class songs and spells have a political consciousness that is unafraid to be mythopoetic. Bone Ink is a fine debut from a poet to watch, whose work has already crossed national borders' - Michelle Cahill' (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner y separately published work icon Awake at the Wheel Berndt Sellheim , Newtown : Vagabond Press , 2016 10149996 2016 selected work poetry

'From the backroads of the Australian outback to the icy streets of Paris winter, these dynamic poems traverse geographies, languages and techniques. Marked by a subtle probing of the metaphysical layerings that underpin human experience, this exploration returns again and again to the concrete details of everyday happenings. Drawing equally on moments of joy and loss, shifting from comic and bawdy bohemianism to introspective sensory envelopment, Awake at the Wheel evokes a dynamic and fragile world. This fragility is an insistent theme, both in terms of human mortality and ecological crisis. These poems travel across a beautiful earth, through mental and spiritual zones bleached by consumer capitalism, and through country ravaged by mining, passing amongst the ghosts of those who have gone before, the spirits of loved ones, and of cultural and literary inheritance. This is a collection of playful, innovative and imaginative poems, driven by a refined and attentive musicality, brimming with possibility and surprise.' (Publication summary)

Works About this Award

Questioning the Template John Leonard , 2007 single work column
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , July-August no. 293 2007; (p. 36)
John Leonard takes issue with the 2006 FAW Anne Elder Poetry Award judges' report written by Lorraine McGuigan and Earl Livings. Leonard asserts that the report 'offers no crititcal insights into the judges' choices' and 'limits itself largely to workshop dicta, of a doubtful sort'.