2018 - Shortlisted
Rico Craig’s exhilarating, original debut collection is an urgent yet tender symphony to generational and poetic metamorphosis. Written across two sections, ‘Bone Ink’ and ‘The Upper Room’, the book opens with a heartbreaking elegy before moving cinematically from evocative memories of a Malaysian childhood, to courageous, unflinching odysseys through the blood lines, hope and decay of contemporary suburbia. The book’s heart beats in western Sydney, where love, brotherhood and the scent of violence are depicted with intimacy and passionate honesty.
Craig’s quicksilver lyricism and assured sense of form are inspired by a refreshingly romantic metropolitanism. Drawing upon key movements in twentieth and twenty-first century poetry and poetics, Craig’s poems synthesise tactile, vernacular speech with a sensuous, immediate sense of place and an insightfully nuanced reach for allegorical possibility. The imagery and observations are clear and energetic while plumbing the depths of the imagination, which, in the end, is liberated in the best possible way.