2022 - Shortlisted
Evelyn Araluen’s Dropbear is a vital debut. A book of deep love and resistance, it incisively interrogates colonialism and the violence of colonial myth-making while enacting an ardent remembrance of lives lost and cultures dismantled. Its searching intellectualism and innovative sense of form are underscored by a burning emotional core. These pages are filled with history, family, love and the generational inheritance of loss; inscribed with both piercing lyrical beauty and excoriating honesty, this collection reveals a tenderness which survives despite brutal and continued injustice.
Using a combination of lyric poetry, essay, memoir and prose poem, Araluen creates formal tensions which make it possible to ‘unspeak the empire’ and unpick the iconography of settler nation building. Fluidly shifting form and language, Araluen attests to the complexities of ongoing labour required to be heard in the occupied spaces of land and language. This powerful collection questions the literature of settlement, articulating the ongoing impact of dispossession on all facets of life. The care and generosity at the heart of this work reveal a poet committed to community, love, language and Country.