This is the first award I have ever won for my writing. It is such a surprise. Such a wonderful surprise.
I was raised by my maternal grandmother. When my grandmother died earlier this year it changed me. I was in the middle of writing a novel and suddenly I couldn’t write fiction anymore. I couldn’t write anything except poetry. I had never written poetry before, and now, suddenly I was writing it obsessively. I was waking up in the middle of the night with words in my head. I slept fitfully. I wrote like I was possessed. I was writing poetry about my grandmother. I was trying to make sense of my grief and poetry seemed the only language available to me.
There is an episode of Rake where a women suddenly starts speaking Indonesian. She can no longer speak English. It is a strange and surreal part of that story, but I thought of it often as I continued to write poem after poem. When I was done I had something on paper, but I had no idea if it was any good. The only way to find out was to read more poetry.
I discovered Ann Carson, Miroslav Holub and Sharon olds. I re-read old favourites, Elliot Weinberger, Michael Ondaatje and Simon Armitage. I began to feel more comfortable about my own strange place in all of this.
My friends Katherine Lyall Watson, Ellen Van Neerven, Asley Hay, Kris Olsson and Michelle Dicinoski and my wonderful boy Anthony Mullins encouraged me to finish what I was working on and to enter what I had into the Thomas Shapcott award. I was away in Tasmania in an isolated shack writing and Anthony printed it all out for me and carried it down to Tasmania in his luggage so I could enter it. I would like to thank these people for making me do this. I would also like to thank the Judges of the award, the Qld Poetry Festival supported by Arts Qld, and UQP. This is a crazy new journey I am on but it really has opened up a new world for me to explore.
I am only just beginning my journey in this new language but I love what I am discovering on the way. I would also like to thank the poets of Brisbane for always supporting me and accepting me. I have a lot to learn and you are the most fun teachers. Poets are always the most outrageous people to be with at any festival and it is really great to join your crazy crew.