The John O’Connor First Book Award

Sudden Valley Press, in association with the Canterbury Poets’ Collective and with support from the Christchurch City Council Creative Communities Fund, announces the launch of a competition for an original, book-length manuscript of poetry by a Christchurch writer who has not previously published a full poetry collection.

The competition is named in honour of Sudden Valley’s founder, the late John O’Connor. An accomplished and widely published poet himself, John believed in fostering new poets, and under his guidance Sudden Valley Press published more than thirty poetry collections, including the debut collections of a number of poets from Christchurch and beyond.

After a couple of years of planning, strategising, fund-raising, debating and generally driving ourselves slightly insane, we are finally here – ready with a chance for one of the many fine local poets to get their first book out in the world, with the support and expertise of Sudden Valley and the Canterbury Poets’ Collective behind it.

Competition Details in Brief

Full details and the entry form are in the downloadable JOC First Book Award Form (see below), but the essentials are:

  • The competition is for an unpublished manuscript of 60 to 120 pages, with the prize being publication by Sudden Valley Press.
  • Entry is $30, and manuscripts will not be returned.
  • Entrants must be residents of the Christchurch City Council District who have not published a full length collection of poetry.
  • Entries must be submitted between November 3rd 2021 and January 16th 2022.
  • A longlist will be compiled by the CPC committee, announced 1st March 2022, and those manuscripts sent to the external judge (this year, Elizabeth Smither) for final assessment.
  • A shortlist will be announced 1 April 2022.
  • The winning manuscript will be announced on 1 May 2022.
  • The winning collection will be launched on National Poetry Day, in August 2022.