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Auckland University Press / Divine Muses Emerging Poets Competition.

‘This year the Divine Muses IX’, a night of poetry readings for National Poetry Day, featured Riemke Ensing, Sue Fitchett, Siobhan Harvey, John Pule, Harry Ricketts, Iain Sharp.

‘The Divine Muses’ was founded by Siobhan Harvey in 2004 to coincide with National Poetry Day, which has been running since 1998. The evenings provide an opportunity to hear leading New Zealand poets read their own poetry.

At this years event, held at the Gus Fisher Gallery, the winners of of a new poetry competition were also announced. The Auckland University Press / Divine Muses Emerging Poets Competition, 2012 open to BA, Honours and Masters students attending the University of Auckland. The competition judge, for the inaugural event was Anna Hodge, Senior editor, Auckland University Press.

First prize - $125 worth of Auckland University books, second prize $75 worth.

Judge’s remarks:

I was delighted to receive and read in July a fat orange folder of original poems entered for the Auckland University Press / Divine Muses Emerging Poets Competition 2012. The quality of entries showed some flourishing poetic talent among those studying at bachelors, honours and masters level at this university, and more than a few clearly emerging poets. However, as I turned the pages of the folder, reading and assessing, among the range of poems a few in particular stood out.

For example, I’d like to give a nod of appreciation to Benjamin Blackman’s poem ‘Non-Contributing Sponge Cunts’, for its humour and boldness; to Tessa Forde’s poem ‘My Childhood as a Boy in the Pacific Islands’, for a narrative which hooked me in; and to Toni Duder’s poem ‘Cino’, for its evocation of a changed moment. These poems made me stop to enjoy and consider.

I also paused, impressed, at the work of Sacha Norrie (‘he comes slowly’ and ‘semit derdnuh a deirt i / i tried a hundred times’) and Angela King (‘Scale’ and ‘Learning Centre at the Museum’). I’d like to Highly Commend these two writers for their attention to craft and to detail and for their strongly developing personal voices.

Moving on, I’m pleased to award Second Prize to two poems by Alana Bruce, ‘So cautious, sky’ and ‘We ripped our script apart’, which were quietly expressive, and unfolded carefully with an attention to the transformative capabilities of language.

And finally I’m delighted to give First Prize to Elizabeth Welsh, the writer of ‘Water Buffalo’ and ‘Soft-shelled crab on Fridays’. Both of these poems are very impressive – confident, ambitious, successful at what they set out to attempt. One charts a specific time and experience with evocative but precise concrete details and language; in the other, poised and taut in its control of line and stanza, Elizabeth plays cleverly with some sophisticated poetic conceits and ideas. I liked both poems, but I was especially impressed by the achievements of ‘Water Buffalo’. My warm congratulations to her.

Anna Hodge, Senior Editor, Auckland University Press. July 2012.


Elizabeth Welsh is a poet and freelance academic editor from Auckland. Her poetry has been published in literary journals, both in New Zealand and internationally. She is currently researching Katherine Mansfield's reviews, preparing for further studies, and has recently spoken on Mansfield at a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Water Buffalo

I Six lines on the art of sorting

To sort is to class, to allot, to share,
to portion, to rank, to categorize,
to line up, to arrange, to join, to divide;
no one saw the first water buffalo escape
from their yolked lumber, clamber from rice fields,
to rank one landscape against another.


II Seven lines on the art of memory

- for Rilke

To remember is to dwell, to bear, to brood,
to call up, to recall, to recognize, to fix,
to go back, to summon, to remind, to relive;
the third water buffalo to flee from paddy
to floodplain has a blank when it comes to
that first hoof poised, sunk into filthy marsh water.
He never stopped, thought: now, change your life.


Elizabeth Welsh


Take a look at Elizabeth's webpage http://ewelsh.wordpress.com/


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