Kathleen Grattan Award – 2015 edition

Focus by Cherice Montgomery

Coming out way earlier than is usual, the results of the 2015 Kathleen Grattan Award have appeared on the  ever-interesting BookSellers news page. A big congratulations to this year’s winner, (drumroll please) … Michael Harlow! Yay!

Michael HarlowThe way OUP have handled the results has varied a bit each year. It used to be quite a strongly guarded secret until the official announcement appeared in the pages of the November Landfall. Then for the previous couple of times, they have released the shortlist a wee way in advance of the big reveal. But this time either felis domestica has managed a burlap Houdini, or they’ve decided there’s no point delaying the announcement past the time when the judge (this year the seemingly indefatigable Emma Neale – herself a previous winner of the award) has made their final decision.

There were 109 entries – which might not sound huge, but this is for a book-length manuscript, which isn’t really the sort of thing you can just chuck together on a whim. Six poets were Highly Commended behind Michael, and there’s a pleasingly strong takahē connection to many of them*. They were:

Nick Ascroft (who guest edited an issue back in 1997);
Victoria Broome (another ex-takahē poetry editor, who was also shortlisted for the KGA in 2010);
David Howard (takahē founding editor);
Hannah Mettner;
Alice Miller;
Elizabeth Morton (runner-up in last year’s poetry comp!)

Well done to all seven. I really wish there was a policy of publishing all the shortlisted collections as well, and not just the winner. Those writers whose work I’m reasonably familiar with cover a fairly diverse range of approaches, so it would make an absolutely fascinating bundle of books.

And now begins the race to get all the other manuscripts out to editors … and shout hooray for poetry!

* Not to mention that Michael was guest poet in T73, as well as taking second place in last year’s comp. And Emma was guest poet in T67.
We can pick ’em!

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