In Los Angeles, a Harvard poet wondered ”Is this too loud, is this too soft, am I going on too long?” while Sharon Olds put the ideal of her husband to rest and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Anne Carson published a poem composed using a random integer generator in the London Review of Books, and James Franco released a poem on the occasion of his 35th birthday. Bollywood heartthrob Farhan Akhtar penned a poem after hearing a five-year-old girl in Delhi had been raped and tortured by her neighbour. Dresden Dolls singer Amanda Palmer penned “the worst poem of all time“ in her musings on the younger Boston Marathon bomber. Historians noted 397 and 189 years have passed since Shakespeare and Byron, respectively, died of fevers.
Review of Walking Home by Simon Armitage
Wordsworth – poet–walker par excellence – had the best legs in the business. As his friend Thomas de Quincy noted: ‘Undoubtedly they had been serviceable legs beyond the average standard of requisition. For I calculate, upon good data, that with these identical legs Wordsworth must have traversed a distance of 185,000 English miles.’ In contrast, Simon Armitage’s legs, by his own admission, generally ‘do very little other than dangle under a desk’ or propel him from the multi-storey car park to the railway ticket office. ‘Even if I’m writing about the Sahara or the Antarctic,’ he confesses, ‘I’m usually doing it in a chair, in a room, behind double glazing.’
The Stella Prize, which comes with a whopping $50,000 purse, is Australia’s newest literary prize celebrating Australian women authors. Australia’s other “gendered” prizes for literature include The Kibble Literary Award ($30,000) for a fiction or nonfiction book by an established Australian woman writer; and The Dobbie Literary Award ($5,000) for a first published work by an Australian woman writer. Australian women writers are also eligible to enter Britain’s The Women’s Prize for Fiction (AU$45,000), awarded to a female author of any nationality for the best original full-length novel written in English. It is not impossible that a first book by an Australian woman author could sweep all of these prizes in a literary superfecta amassing a tidy $130,000.
The Australian Book Review Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize is for a short story in English of between 2000 and 5000 words. The prize will be judged by Tony Birch, Maria Takolander and Terri-ann White and first prize is AUD$5,000. Entries close 31 May.
One of the most lucrative poetry prizes in Australia, the Newcastle Poetry Prize offers $20,250 in total prize money with a first place award of $12,000, a second prize of $5,000 and third prize of $1,000. In addition, the $500 Local Award is given to a poet who resides in the Hunter Region and the Harri Jones Memorial Prize awards $250 for the best poem by a poet under the age of 36. Entries close 7 June 2013.
Australian writers are invited to enter the Alan Marshall Short Story Award, which celebrates the art of writing and honours the life and work of Alan Marshall. 2013 Judge: Arnold Zable. Open first prize: $3000, Local first prize: $2000, Youth first prize: $400 (14 to 18 years of age). An award ceremony will be held at 4pm on 24 August 2013. Entries close 17 May 2013.
Entries are now open for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. The winner of the prize will receive a cash prize of CA$20,000 (AU$19,000). The prize is open to original, unpublished poems up to 40 lines long. Entrants can be from anywhere in the world. Entries close 15 May 2013.
Not surprisingly – poets being aural creatures – the #art issue of Australian Poetry Journal thrums with music. In Philip Hammial’s ‘Walk that Walk’ Afro-Cuban jazz-king Machito (Crowded Fingers) Smith thinks, along with Zelda Fitzgerald, that ‘Al Jolson is greater than Jesus’. In Philip Salom’s ‘Counterpoint with Red’ Glenn Gould guns through Bach in a triptych of waltzes showcasing the pianist’s architectural tics and copious pharmaceutical predilections. ‘The purpose of art’, Gould wrote in 1962, ‘is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity’. Always more concerned with the effects of art than the product itself, Gould argued that art’s ‘justification’ (should it need one) is ‘the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men’.