Bruce Dawe (1930–2020)
Bruce Dawe, the so-called Australian ‘protest poet’, died on April 1, aged ninety. Dawe was born in Fitzroy in 1930 and grew up in a working-class milieu, moving between seven schools before working myriad jobs – labourer, farmhand, postman, and more. His socially conscious poetry was enjoyed by a diverse audience; his collection Sometimes Gladness (1978) was a standard text on high-school curricula.
John Kinsella, in a fine tribute published in The Guardian on April 3, wrote: ‘Always behind Dawe’s seemingly playful banter with us, his readers and public, is his commitment to sympathy and connection with the less empowered, the disenfranchised, downtrodden, neglected and exploited.’
As we go to press, entries are pouring in for the 2020 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, which is worth a total of $12,500. Entries close on May 1 at 11:59 pm. Our judges – Gregory Day, Josephine Rowe, and Ellen van Neerven – will then start assessing the large field. The shortlisted stories will be published in the August 2020 issue of ABR. The usual ceremony remains moot: we’ll host one if we can.
Meanwhile, for all those poets out there who are cooped up at home: the Peter Porter Poetry Prize will open on July 15.
Calibre Essay Prize
Judging of the 2020 Calibre Essay Prize was delayed because of the pandemic and the unprecedented number of entries, but the judges – J.M. Coetzee, Lisa Gorton, and ABR Editor Peter Rose – have now finalised their deliberations. The two winning essays will appear in the June–July issue. The winner receives $5,000, the runner-up, $2,500.
Jess Hill wins Stella Prize
Congratulations to Jess Hill for winning the $50,000 Stella Prize for her pioneering work See What You Made Me Do: Power, control and domestic abuse (Black Inc.). This is a book of immense importance to discussions about domestic abuse and systemic violence against women. Hill, a Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist, combines forensic research and immersive narrative. Zora Simic, reviewing See What You Made Me Do in the September 2019 issue of ABR, predicted it would be ‘the most important work of Australian non-fiction this year’.
The ABR Podcast
The response to our first ‘Poetry for Troubled Times’ podcast was enthusiastic. Various poets and critics read poems of considerable meaning to them – ones that seemed to speak to these anxious times. Readers included Judith Beveridge, Peter Goldsworthy, Lisa Gorton, and Paul Kane from New York.
Such was the response that we have recorded a second cohort of poets and aficionados in 'More Poetry for Troubled Times'. They include Anthony Lawrence, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Maria Takolander, and Claire G. Coleman. (Jaya Savige reads Bruce Dawe’s poem ‘Happiness Is the Art of Being Broken’.)
Look out for more poetry on the ABR Podcast in coming months. Previous episodes include Robyn Archer on the way we live during the pandemic and how it might change Australia once the crisis is over. Billy Griffiths reviews Cassandra Pybus’s Truganini, and previous Calibre Prize-winners Michael Adams and Martin Thomas read their celebrated essays. Be sure to tune in – and don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss any upcoming episodes. The ABR Podcast is available on the ABR website, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
After last year’s contentious decision not to award a winner, K.M. Kruimink has won the 2020 The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award for her novel A Treacherous Country. Set in nineteenth-century Tasmania, it was shortlisted alongside three other works, all unpublished of course: Emily Brugman’s The Islands, Belinda Lopez’s Tete and Maree Spratt’s The Followers. Kruimink receives $20,000.
Allen & Unwin published A Treacherous Country in April.