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2015 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

This powerful collection is informed with the wonder and wild energy of a bestiary of familiar creatures made unfamiliar through Hart’s sinuous lyricism; it is a catalogue of the ‘miracles’ of unruly life in its multifarious forms. The poems travel across the globe to invoke and pay homage to the range of knowledges and forms of beauty that elude us in our daily lives. We see the human apprehending and sometimes morphing with bird, fish, beast, insect, plant. The poems show us how animals and other energies of the natural world make their way into our lives, our cities and our sleep.

Language in these poems works not simply as representation but as incantation, spell and offering. Language is a process of ‘making and unmaking’, a thread and a map that weaves us into connections with the world and its many non-human actors — wind, bird, stone, whale, moon. The leaping arcs of the poetry grant us momentary access to experiencing the world through the ‘grizzly eyes’ of the bear, the pumping blood of a bird in full flight. This book’s coherence and unity, its imaginative inventiveness, clarity and lightness of touch are a signal achievement.