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2015 - Shortlisted
A resonant calmness of breath is what distinguishes the work of Judith Beveridge. It is a meditative voice achieved by mastery of the lyric art, and sustained by a spiritual outlook that can be best described as Buddhist; a way of seeing that is emptied of the ego, and a way of connecting to the world through intense, self-obliterating acts of imaginative affinity. It is wonderfully incarnated in Devadatta's Poems, in a powerful narrative composed of superbly crafted monologues that plumb the mind and heart of the eponymous protagonist-speaker.
Beveridge’s natural empathy and her keen attention to detail allow her to flesh out Devadatta’s world vividly, in dramatic settings and vignettes that reflect his bodily travails and spiritual conflict. The focus is on a flawed character riven with desire and envy, rather than the Buddha. In poems alive with sensory details, the poetic voice is so firmly planted in the body of Devadatta that the poet seems to have immersed herself wholly in his world. With their exquisite form and imagery, the poems allow us to inhabit a self and world that, though so distant in time and space, strike home powerfully with insights into the struggle between the body and spirit