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2017 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

In Fragments, Antigone Kefala faces time’s relentless fragmentation of the wholeness of human experience. Against the indifference of the world to human life in all its phases — ‘so many seasons now/… unaware of us’ — Kefala cries out to poetry. In a book of stunning austerity, razor-sharp imagery and precise free-verse prosody, Kefala appeals to the redemptive power of memory in the face of life’s transience and intimate loss; a power that, for the poet, is found in the eloquence of poetry’s restoration of memory and life.

Kefala’s poetry approaches the dark clarity and dense allegory of Paul Celan, the face of the other peering into the face of the self across an abyss of emptiness which becomes, in the shadow of the poetic gesture, an abyss of completeness: ‘yet I called your name/lost in the rain of ash/that kept on falling.’ There is also passion, the sparkle of youth texturing the shadows of the present. Beneath it all is an eye for the ‘ferocity of life’ and, in poetry, its elegant embrace of what time can give, and what time takes away.