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2020 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

Archival-Poetics is a powerful, complex, and moving collection by Narungga poet Natalie Harkin. Published as three separate volumes (titled Colonial Archive, Haunting and Blood Memory), Archival-Poetics boldly reckons with traumatic histories of colonisation, the stolen generations and forced domestic labour. For Harkin, these histories are intimate. Her poetry draws deeply on her Nanna’s state archive records, weaving traces of haunting, missing narratives and accounts of state surveillance into richly conceived and fully-realised poems that remember, reconnect, and restore the loving bonds of blood-memory that beat across time.

Archival-Poetics rewards careful, thoughtful reading and reflection. Harkin’s dynamic, sensitive and keenly-felt poems are underpinned by an impressive command of voice, tone and poetic image. They reveal and contest the crime scenes of ‘imperial-fascination’ while inviting us to keep digging deep to ‘find sustenance, humour, and beauty and dance in impossible places’.