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An Open Book

2020 - Shortlisted


Judges' comments

David Malouf is one of this country’s most respected poets and prose writers. An Open Book, his collection seen through the lens of late-life’s quiet wisdoms does not disappoint. Malouf’s craft is exemplary. His concerns, while uniquely expressed, are universal: selfhood’s hall of mirrors, the insistent resonances of childhood, the miraculous grace we find despite misunderstandings and the shortfall between our inner and outer lives. 

At first glance, An Open Book is as advertised: modestly small poems with nothing withheld. But Malouf uses the pronoun ‘we’ as a generous invitation to find the deeper mysteries of identification. Beyond the effective line breaks, his masterful use of pauses amplifies meaning and response. Incrementally, we encounter ourselves in those silences. ‘In the darkness/my foot finds a stair/No occasion to ask where/it leads to or if the next/is there.’